Journal

Safeguard of the Post-War International Order and Asian Security

Mr. Yasar Yakıs Former Turkish Foreign Minister
The scope
 
My intervention will be on the “Post-war International Order and Security in Asia and on Possible Ways of Safeguarding and improving it”.
 
The post-war period that I will talk about covers the period that starts at the end of the Second World War in 1945 and that continues until today.
 
Four major military confrontations have taken place in Asia during this long post-war era that lasted 70 years:
 
The Korean War
 
The Korean War that broke out in 1950 has come to an end with an armistice signed in 1953. The final peace treaty is not yet signed. But there are no hot confrontations either. The Korean conflict looks nowadays more like a frozen conflict. It does not put imminent threat on the peace in Asia.  
 
Vietnam War
 
The second war was in Indochina. This war was fought in two segments: One against France between 1946 and 1954. It ended up with the withdrawal of France from the Indochina peninsula. The second is fought between 1955 and 1975 against the US and ended up with the withdrawal of the US. Therefore the conflict in Indochina has now been resolved. 
 
The Afghan War
 
The third one is the Afghan War. This war started with the military intervention of the Soviet Union in 1979. The Afghan resistance forces called “Mujahideen” (combatants) fought against the Soviet forces. The US and Saudi Arabia helped the Mujahideen. But some factions of these Mujahideen have become radicalized, turned against the US and carried out on 11 September 2001 a deadly attack in New York and Washington, killing more than 3 000 civilians. On 20 December 2001, the UN Security Council adopted a Resolution authorizing an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to restore order in Afghanistan. This force is still operating in Afghanistan.
 
The Afghan crisis made this country the nursery of international terrorism. It still continues to breed terrorists who are active almost everywhere in the world. Therefore the Afghan crisis has still potentials of destabilizing the region.
 
The Middle East crisis
 
The forth military confrontation is that of the Middle East. It started with the invasion of Iraq by the US. The US invaded Iraq claiming that it possessed weapons of mass destruction. After the invasion, it turned out that Iraq did not possess such weapons, but the invasion and the civil war that ensued caused hundreds of thousands of civil and military casualties, enormous destruction of the physical infrastructure of the country and atrocious treatment of the civilian people.
 
Before the Iraqi crisis was entirely over, another wave of crises broke out in various countries of the Middle East. It is called the Arab Spring. It started as a result of internal dynamics of the region. However, with the involvement of outside actors, the crisis has become internationalized. As a result of this, the unrest in the Middle East is shaped more by the foreign actors that conduct a proxy war using either the local or international fighters. Almost all of the foreign actors have their own agenda regarding the region. This is the major reason why the restoration of the stability became more complicated. The Middle Eastern crisis is threatening the world peace.
 
The fact that this region is home for the richest oil reserves of the world makes this crisis more critical for the international peace and stability.
 
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
 
The emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as a terrorist organization is a new phenomenon that has complicated the security problem of the region. ISIL has become a quasi-State actor that has established itself in large swaths of lands in Syria and Iraq. But it has dormant or semi-active cells elsewhere in the world. 
 
Safeguard the international order in Asia
 
I now turn to the subject of the Safeguard of the international order in Asia.
 
All of the crises that I mentioned above and that took place in Asia in the post-war era were shaped by the external actors, or at least the non-Asian actors played a major role in the shaping of the developments in these crises.
 
Asia, especially West Asia or the Middle East continues to be the most unstable region of the world. This instability is likely to spill over to other Asian countries in the region. This has to be prevented at all costs. Several measures may be devised to prevent it:
 
- First, the Asian countries should make more efforts to contribute to the solution of the conflicts, because the instability in the Asian countries affects naturally the countries of the region more than it affects non-Asian countries.
 
- Second, the priority has to be given to the use of soft power in trying to contribute to the solution of the international conflicts
 
- Third, strong economic relations make considerable contribution to the interdependence among the countries and from there to the political stability. Therefore measures should be devised to further strengthen economic ties among the Asian countries. The establishment of regional economic cooperation organizations is one of the ways to achieve this goal. In case this proves to be difficult, legislative environment could be improved by measures such as signing, on the bilateral basis, agreements for the reciprocal promotion and protection of foreign investments, for the avoidance of double taxation, for the establishment free trade areas, for the facilitation of the border crossing formalities and for the visa exemption.
 
- Fourth, the “Belt and Road Project” or the “New Silk Road Project” launched by the Chinese President His Excellency Xi Jinping is an excellent vehicle to increase the interdependence of the countries of the region. To give substance to this project, the directly interested countries have to act in close coordination to improve their transport infrastructure, communication infrastructure and legislative infrastructure. A chain is only as strong as its weakest ring. If one of the countries that is part of the Belt and Road Project does not fulfill properly what is expected from it, the entire project will be negatively affected.
 
To conclude my intervention, I would like to point out that China is progressing steadily in its way to become the biggest economy of the world. Economy alone may not be sufficient to play major roles in the world politics. It needs political instruments as well. These political instruments could be created by eliminating one by one all seeds of discontent among the countries.
 
China has to do it in cooperation with other countries of the world and especially in cooperation with the Asian countries. This is a gigantic task, but the Asian countries have potentials to achieve this goal.

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