Evelyn Goh and Jochen Prantl Why strategic diplomacy matters
Amitav Acharya Coping with the changing world order
Kishore Mahbubani ASEAN at 50 … and more
ASIAN REVIEW — James Curran: The choice between sentiment and reality
Aileen S P Baviera: Duterte’s China policy shift, strategy or serendipity?
Katherine Morton: The China factor in global governance
From the editors’ desk
Strategy involves connecting ways and means to specific goals,
while diplomacy is one of the key means by which states navigate
the chosen paths to their desired policy ends. Yet, the business of
national strategy-making is increasingly fraught as many states
today lack compelling national narratives such as empire, religion,
independence, or the Cold War whereby to order strategic purpose.
Thus, strategies themselves have become the object of national and
At the same time, states are faced with a wide range of
interconnected risks and threats, making the strategic underpinning
of diplomatic practice even more crucial than before, especially
because the common reaction to complexity and uncertainty is to
seek refuge in tactics. This challenge is especially acute in strategically
dynamic regions like East Asia.
Hence ‘strategic diplomacy’—diplomacy undertaken with
purposeful strategic rationale, with a long-term focus on shaping
the complex international system that nation-states must operate
in—is a policy tool that needs development and sharpening. The
collection of essays in this issue is drawn from our new multi-regional
research program on strategic diplomacy. They present brief studies
from Southeast Asia, a region evincing significant diplomacy with
pronounced strategic motivations.
Leading regional scholars and practitioners from a range of
disciplines examine the challenges of strategic diplomacy in
regionalism, economics, law and security. These eight essays derive
from a selection of papers presented at a workshop jointly organised
by the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre and the Asia-Pacific
College of Diplomacy at ANU, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public
Policy at the National University of Singapore in February 2017.
The Asian Review section features essays on the pressures facing
the Australia–US alliance, Philippine President Duterte’s tilt to China,
China’s changing role in global governance, US–China relations under
Trump and their implications for Southeast Asia, as well as the future
of the China–Japan relationship.
Evelyn Goh and Jochen Prantl
A PRIMARY task of strategic diplomacy is to adapt to the changing contours of the world order. The contemporary order, in place since the end of World War II and often called the US-dominated liberal hegemony, is changing. But it is not simply returning to the multipolar geopolitics of the prewar era, as many pundits and policymakers would claim. In the context of Asia, we often hear that ‘Europe’s past could become Asia’s future’, as political scientist Aaron Friedberg has written and others have echoed. This view is misleading. The prewar multipolar world was largely one of states,
empires and colonies. Today, the main actors are not only great powers, or even just states. They are also international and regional institutions, corporations, transnational nongovernmental organisations and social movements, transnational criminal
and terrorist groups, and so on.
Economic interdependence today has become much more extensive
and multidimensional, consisting of trade, finance, and global production
networks and supply chains. Prewar multipolarity, on the other hand,
was mainly trade-based. What’s more, there is a far greater density
of relatively durable international and regional institutions today. PreWorld
War I Europe had only one: the European Concert of Powers; the
interwar period only had the shortlived League of Nations.
This emerging world order can be better understood as a ‘multiplex
The multiplex world is characterised …