Sunday, August 26, 2007

Who is missing from this group?

In Abe's Magical Democracy tour, there was lots of talk about cooperation between Japan, India, the US, and Australia — glorious Pacific-spanning cooperation among democracies.

But what about South Korea, which last time I checked was a vibrant democracy whose people struggled to achieve it after decades of authoritarian rule?

It seems that any organization of democracies in Asia would be incomplete without a democracy that also happens to be a significant economic power. Is South Korea's inclusion implied in any such organization? Or was Mr. Abe signaling that he expects that if given a choice, South Korea is bound to choose China (and its northern brother) over its fellow democracies, so why even bother extending a hand?

Now, granted, South Korea could do a better job trying to bridge the divide with its Japanese neighbor (like, for example, not arms racing with it). But to me this strikes me as just another sign that no one should take Mr. Abe's proposal all that seriously — as MTC wisely suggests in his "Magical Democracy Tour" post, the community of Asian democracies is more about Mr. Abe's personal and political needs than a serious effort to reorganize the regional security environment.


Anonymous said...

Assuming, of course, that the exclusion is Abe's decision, and not the South Korean government's.

James said...

In all these discussions of Asia-Pacific democracies, New Zealand is always ignored as well. Though that is probably less to do with geopolitical reasons and more because they're small, sheepish and easily forgotten. Although G.W Bush did give them a shoutout (as one of the only two prewar Pacific democracies) in his recent speech.

James said...

And we shouldn't forget New Zealand as well. Although Bush did give them a nice shoutout in his recent speech, everyone seems to forget that they even exist.