GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Pan-Asian cooperation and the prospects of peace in the Gulf
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Preliminary Abstract (Not for circulation)

After the devastating interlude of western colonialism, Asia is re-emerging as an important centre of gravity in a world order that is increasingly multi-polar. The US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have facilitated this trend due to two principal developments. On the one side, these ‘wars on terror’ have seriously impeded the relative material power of the United States in the international system, re-invigorating the importance of regional powers to crisis situations in south-central Asia and the western areas of the continent including the strategically important Persian Gulf sub-region. The successes of the ‘Arab revolts’ that have brought down two of the staunchest pro-Western allies, namely Ben-Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, give impetus to this trend, for they are likely to produce states that are less subservient to the strategic interest of the United States and Israel. On the other side, regional states and their civil societies are by far less prone to US soft power than they used to be. With the dissemination of Arabic news and cultural programmes via prominent satellite TV stations such as Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya etc., the monopoly of western media has been broken which has contributed to a shift in the preference ratings of Arab societies and which has given them a voice beyond western representations. Ultimately, the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated that in today’s world order, hard military power yields pyrrhic military ‘successes’ at the war front, and won’t guarantee strategic gains.
Starting with an analysis of these new trends permeating the contemporary international system, this paper carves out the possibilities for pan-Asian cooperation in the Persian Gulf. It is argued that such ‘pan-Asian cooperation’ can be fostered along a three-tiered process which moves the level of interaction from institutionalised cultural exchanges to semi-governmental forums to traditional inter-state security considerations. Through a survey of the conceptual literature on the emergence of ‘security communities’ the paper shows how under proper conditions a pan-Asian discourse can contribute to the emergence of stability and trust in the Persian Gulf and beyond.