International Relations in an Age of Volatility
In a 13 January 2012 speech to the Asian Society in New York, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, even while calling for the construction of a ‘rules-based’ ‘Pax Pacifica’, was candid enough to note ‘a brittleness in the security realities of our region that potentially runs counter to the deeper and economic engagement and interaction we have seen in recent decades’. One does not have to accept Rudd’s point about the viability of constructing a rules-based order to agree with his observation on the tension between robust economic growth and a fragile security sphere in contemporary Asia. At the beginning of the second decade of the twenty-first century, East Asia is emerging as the central site of economic, political, and security significance. In a major 2011 survey conducted in the United States (US), 45 per cent of the American academics sampled identified East Asia as the region of the world with the greatest strategic significance for the US, up from 30 per cent in 2008. In the same survey, 50 per cent of American foreign policy practitioners agreed with this assessment. In a noteworthy development, 85 per cent felt that East Asia would be the most important region for the United States in twenty years.