Asia‘s responsibility after the US troop pull-out of Afghanistan
Securing a structure of peace in Asia is not solely America’s responsibility. America’s friends and allies need to think hard about what sort of regional order they want, and they must begin to collaborate in order to breathe life into a structure of peace within which all of Asia can prosper and feel secure. Japan‘s government in particular needs to identify a coherent Asia strategy and stick to it, instead of leaning towards China one minute, and America the next. In constructing a viable strategy, deepening Japan’s partnerships with Asia’s great democracies – India, Indonesia, and South Korea – must be a priority.
But the biggest question concerns China’s place in a consensual Asian order, and its willingness to collaborate with its neighbours, as well as with the US, in creating it. The doubts that many Asians now hold about China’s intentions are well grounded, given the secretive nature of China’s military build-up, and its leaders’ increasingly aggressive tone in territorial disputes with India, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. China’s unconditional support for North Korea‘s wayward regime, despite its repeated crimes against peace, is also a cause for concern about whether China will treat its neighbours’ security concerns with respect.
Today’s Asia-Pacific region has now become the focus of the global economy. According to the World Bank, three of the top five economic powers will be Asian powers (China, Japan, and India) within this decade. The boom that has brought this shift occurred because America’s military presence in the region provided stability and predictability. America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan must not be allowed to call this stability into question.
What happens in Afghanistan as America begins to draw down its troops will test the willingness of all of Asia’s powers to work together to build a secure regional order. In Afghanistan, their long-term interests are essentially in harmony, as none – including China – wants to see Afghanistan become a haven for terrorism once again. But only a strong regional consensus on Afghanistan’s future can avert the prospect of a renewed struggle for mastery there. If such a consensus can be forged, however, it will provide a foundation for further collaboration in building a pan-Asian order based on consent, not military might.
Asia after the Afghan war – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.