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Regionalism and Crisis Prevention in (Western) Europe and (Eastern) Asia: A Systematic Comparison

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While the globalization of risks is commonly recognized, a corresponding global pattern of risk management has not arisen. For a while after 1989 the vision of a global community of states appeared to be coming true. Long-standing conflicts were settled, and the UN Security Council for the first time acted with consent and commitment in the area of crisis reaction. However, this short-lived phase of global conflict management was soon troubled, beginning with a cascade of secessionist disputes and ending abruptly on 9/11. Ironically, today's global crisis management seems to be more complicated and less promising than that of the Cold War with its comparably primitive bipolar structure. Some threats, such as arms races, nuclear proliferation, enemy images and Alliance-building, have returned. Frozen conflicts have been re-heated because of spreading ethno-political strife. New lines of confrontation have also emerged from transnational constellations. Nations and states are under pressure to cope with new risks at a time when both their competence and capability to manage societal change and adjust to globalization are under duress.1 While the responsibility2 of states to carry out crisis management in a turbulent environment is increasing, their operational capability is being challenged, from both top-down and bottom-up. Most states in the northern hemisphere feel sufficiently prepared to prevent conflicts between themselves and other states, but they are less well prepared for armed conflicts other than among states - so-called asymmetric wars. Where nation-state-based responses are insufficient and global responses out of reach because of disagreement among big powers, it is the regional level, which looks most promising for tackling these new challenges. But even if regional patterns function well, crucial questions remain. Might smaller states become the objects or victims of power politics in a region if it is dominated by champions? Would regional arrangements foster global fragmentation? How can the success of regional conflict resolution be transferred to the national level in cases of transnational risks, and is there anything that states can learn from each other in organizing regional security and state-to-state cooperation? Finally, should tools and strategies that have proven successful in one region be applied to others? This analysis compares state-based regionalism in (Western) Europe and (East) Asia. It accepts the premise that states can learn from each other, but argues that attempts at direct model transfer should be avoided.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-11-01

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