Keynote Address at the 11th Asia-Pacific Chiefs of Defense (CHOD-11) Conference, Bali, Indonesia, November 11, 2008.
We meet at a critical time in the geo-political and geo-economic setting of today’s world. This coming November 15, the powerful economies of the world___the United States (GDP: $ 14,5 trillion), the European Union (GDP: US 14,6 trillion) and Japan (GDP: US$ 4,6 trillion)__will meet in Washington for the G-20 Summit which aims to resolve the global financial market and economic crises which have afflicted many countries and regions across all continents. The Washington Summit follows the G-8 meeting in Hokkaido in September and last month’s Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing.
CHOD-11 must take into account what will come out of the Washington Summit and its follow-up meetings. As the “center of gravity” of the world economy continue to shift from the North Atlantic to Asia and the Pacific, Japan, China, South Korea will play more significant roles in redesigning the global financial and economic orders. Sooner than later the crises will affect all of our economies, including the budget, force planning and operational capabilities of the defense forces. In turn, the crises will influence the security environment where trans-regional trade, investment and financial flows occur, ultimately impacting perceptions about future multilateral cooperation.
For over 60 years, the United States maintained “full spectrum dominance” in Asia and the Pacific. Throughout the Cold War (1947-1990) and beyond (1990- present). United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) held its role as “security provider,” enabling its treaty allies (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan) to secure 80% of energy supplies from the Middle East within a stable Northeast Asia-Southeast Asia-Indian Ocean environment. That security environment made possible Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and China to accumulate today’s combined GDP of US $ 11 trillion, whilst at the same time underwriting America’s trade and budget deficits. Growth of Asia Pacific coooperation, including the formation of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) in 1989 and the more recent East Asia Summit in 2005 were made possible by America’s ability to provide satellite surveillance, strategic nuclear, ballistic missile as well conventional forces “forward presence.”
Significantly, USPACOM secured both the intra-regional and trans-regional strategic balance. Japan provided economic, trade and invesment commitments, leading ASEAN to become today a community of 10 nations with a combined GDP of $1,2 trillion. The security, trade and investment complementarities linking Northeast and Southeast Asia were facilitated by USPACOM’s critical role as “regional balancer” adjusting to the shifts of trans-regional military balance over the past 60 yearss. It survived the upheavels in Indo-China (1954-1975), the crises over the Taiwan Straits and periodic tensions in the Korean peninsula.
The transformation from an alliance based SEATO to an independent Asean Regional Forum(ARF)/ASEAN Security Community (ASC) fostered inter-regional links leading to market-based economic prosperity. Indonesia’s vision within the ASC is to provide “strategic space” among all extra-regional and resident economic and military powers in order that multilateral cooperation, regional security and economic prosperity reinforces one another. In place of the former ANZUS (Ausralia-New Zealand-US) alliance, there now exists an informal quadrilateral security consultation forum involving the US, Japan, Australia and India.
CHOD in 21st Century must track trends and projections of Northeast and Southeast Asia with other transregional centers in Pacific Basin, including links with North America, Oceania, Australia/New Zealand and Latin America. USPACOM in Hawaii is strategically located to monitor trans-Pacific air and maritime trade, investments and financial interaction. As budgetary priorities shift, “regional cooperative clusters ” offer useful intersecting points in maintaining trans-regional stability: China-Japan-Korea in Northeast Asia; The ASEAN Security Community in Southeast Asia ; the US-Japan-Australia-India consultative framework.
All of these collaborative clusters need to be carefully harmonized with the right pitch of US military presence. The fulcrum of military “balance of power” and the evolving “power of balance” incorporating economic, financial, trade, investment and energy flows passing through the seas and airspaces of East and Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Indian Oceans were a carefully calibrated by USPACOM..
How will future multilateral cooperation fit into the above trends? How coordinated and synchronized will public and private leaders harness a concerted vision about each country’s geo-political distinct location relative to its geo-economic competitive strength? Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore exemplify the imperative to utilize “brain power” in order “to live off” the rest of the world precisely because they do not possess natural resources. What combination of “hard”, “soft” and “smart” powers must leadership groups in government, in the military and in private business command in order to be able to connect, cooperate and at the same time compete with one another as well as with the rest of the world?
What is the role of traditional “military power” compared to the growing importance of “non-military warfare” such as the “battle” over brain-ware, creativity, ideas and innovation? What is the optimum mix matching the ability to“deter and destruct” with the ability to “capture and secure ” market share, financial assets and intellectual property”? Countries with sizeable numbers of population and territory must adopt a comprehensive policy vision simultaneously linking the global, the regional, the national, the provincial and the local so that “access to” and “claims over” strategic resources in international legally disputed areas can be resolved through mediation and peaceful negotiation.
There is need for more skilled and educationally trained military officers who are able to interface the planning of “military battles” over physical space with areas where the “non-military battles” of ideas, knowledge and management skills become increasingly prominent in determining a nation’s ability to survive in a “24/7” globalized world. The “war room”, “board room” and the “classroom” must interface continously.
CHOD has a vital role in preparing next generation of military leaders able to map out a network of collaboration among young officers in the armies, navies and air forces throughout the Pacific. They will be more skilled in the combined applications of “hard” military power, “smart” economic-financial power as well as the “soft” power of culture and communication.
Only in this way can future generation military leaders and defense planners can ensure that the shared responsibility to secure sustainable multilateral cooperation, regional security and economic prosperity will justly reward our vision of planning ahead in keeping the peace in our region.