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Northeast Asian Security Supercomplex:

The United States Factor as Hierarchy-Assuring Great Power

Arranged as Requirements for


ASEAN and the Regional Dynamic of East Asia

by:
Tangguh (0706291426)

Department of International Relations Studies


Faculty of Social and Political Studies
University of Indonesia
2009

0
I
INTRODUCTION

I.1. Background
In the region of Northeast Asia, the largest power in the international system in Asia is an extra-
regional actor, the United States (US). The US enjoys an unprecedented dominance over all other
nations and becomes the central force in constituting regional stability and order of Northeast Asia. It is
based on US‟s structural power that can even influence the behavior of other, apparently powerful,
states like China and Japan and other potential rivals. Those states within the Northeast Asia regional
system cannot definitively influence events within their regional system alone and choose to cooperate
and align with the US: Japan has been loyal ally of the US while South Korea is so much under the
influence of the US, China never wants confrontation with the US knowing the huge capability gap, and
North Korea has been using their nuclear issue to demand large-scale economic development assistance,
diplomatic normalization, and a security guarantee from the US. We can assume that the US has
consistently constituted regional order of the Northeast Asia while other regional security actors have
also sought to leverage on American power to maximize their own interests and to influence the
development of regional security architecture, identity, and order, hence predicating regional security
order upon the US‟s role and position.

I.2. Thesis Question


This paper investigates the following questions: What is the significance of US structural power
in Northeast Asia? Why do so many other regional powers choose to cooperate and align with the
US, and support its national strategy and regional policies? How and to what extent is regional
security order predicated upon the US’s role and position?

I.3. Significance
This paper has an academic significance in the point that it explains the importance of a nation‟s
structural power to influence the security order of a region, how and to what extent the regional security
order is predicated upon the role and position of a great power.
The practical significance of this paper is to serve as basis for Northeast Asian security actors‟
policymaking on the light of interaction with the US‟s and other extra-regional actors‟ structural power.

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II
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

II.1. Regional Security Complex Theory (RSCT)


Regional security complex theory (RSCT) has been a distinctive contribution of the Copenhagen
School of International Security Studies with Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver at its core. The definition of
a regional security complex (RSC) that Buzan and Wæver formulated was „a set of units whose major
processes of securitization, desecuritization, or both are so interlinked that their security problems
cannot reasonably be analyzed or resolved apart from one another‟.1 The central idea is that substantial
parts of the securitization and desecuritization processes in the international system will manifest
themselves in regional clusters. These clusters are both durable and distinct from global level processes
of (de)securitization. Each level needs to be understood both in itself and in how it interplays with the
other.2
RSCs are defined by durable patterns of amity and enmity taking the form of sub-global,
geographically coherent patterns of security interdependence. The particular character of a local RSC
will often be affected by historical factors such as long-standing enmities or the common cultural
embrace of a civilizational area. Another component is the power relations, since power operates on a
regional scale (the concept of a regional balance of power), in which powers that are not directly linked
to each other still take part in the same network of relations. Thus RSCs, like the international system of
which they are substructures, can be analyzed in terms of polarity, ranging from unipolar, through bi-
and tripolar, to multipolar.3
There are four levels of analysis specified in RSCT that constitute the security constellation: 1)
domestically in the states of the region, particularly their domestically generated vulnerabilities; 2)
state-to-state relations; 3) the region‟s interaction with neighboring regions; and 4) the role of global
powers in the region. RSCT asserts that the regional level will always be operative, and sometimes
dominant. The essential structure of an RSC embodies four variables: 1) boundary, 2) anarchic
structure, 3) polarity, and 4) social construction. From its configuration at any given snapshot in time
there are thus three possible evolutions open to an RSC: 1) maintenance of the status quo, 2) internal

1
Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver, Liberalism and Security: The Contradictions of the Liberal Leviathan, Copenhagen:
COPRIWorking Paper 23, p.201
2
Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver, Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2003) p.45
3
Ibid. p.45-49

2
transformation, and 3) external transformation. Within these parameters of structure and evolution, it is
possible to identify different types of RSC. Variations in polarity range from unipolar to multipolar;
variations in amity and enmity range from conflict formation through security regime to security
community. Variations in the interactions of global powers with regions form the following types of
security complex:4
Type Key features Example(s)
Standard Polarity determined by regional powers Middle East, South America,
Southeast Asia, Horn, Southern
Africa
Centered
Superpower Unipolar centered on a superpower North America
Great-power Unipolar centered on a great power CIS, potentially South Asia
[Regional Unipolar centered on a regional power none
power]
Institutional Region acquires actor quality through EU
institutions
Great power Bi-or multipolar with great powers as the Pre-1945 Europe, East Asia
regional poles
Supercomplexes Strong interregional level of security dynamics East and South Asia
arising from great power spillover into
adjacent regions
Table 1 Summary of types of security complex (Buzan and Wæver, 2003, p.62)
Penetration of Outside Powers to the RSCs
What links the overarching pattern of distribution of power among the global powers to the
regional dynamics of RSCs is the mechanism of penetration. Penetration occurs when outside powers
make security alignments with states within an RSC. Such linkage between the local and global security
patterns is a natural feature of life in an anarchic system. One of the purposes of RSCT is to combat the
tendency to overstress the role of the great powers, and to ensure that the local factors are given their
proper weight in security analysis. The standard form for an RSC is a pattern of rivalry, balance-of-
power, and alliance patterns among the main powers within the region: to this pattern can then be added
the effects of penetrating external powers. Normally the pattern of conflict stems from factors
indigenous to the region and outside powers cannot (even if heavily involved) usually define,
desecuritize, or reorganize the region. Unipolarity might in its extreme form be an exception to this rule;

4
Ibid. p.51-61

3
when both sides of a local conflict are dependent on the same power, it is possible for that power to
pressure the conflicting parties into peace processes, for example, the Middle East (see B. Hansen 2000)
and, in the case of European regional unipolarity, the Stability Pact for Central Europe (Wæver 1996b:
229–31, 1998a: 99–100).5

II.2. Anarchy and Hierarchy


The assumption of anarchy of international system suggests that states are „like units‟,6 and the
(mainstream) definition of „hierarchy‟ in the International Relations literature is a state system in which
there is no overarching central authority.7 Kenneth Waltz (1979) represented anarchy and hierarchy as
dichotomous characterizations based on the presence or absence of overarching authority. In contrast,
Evelyn Goh (2008) referred to international hierarchies as the range of inequalities and differentiation in
authority relations in the international system, then suggesting that an anarchical system could, and
usually did, contain systems and relations of hierarchy. She conceptualized „hierarchy‟ as international
systems made up of sovereign states, with one preponderant power but also a variety of smaller
significant powers. Goh suggested the following basic criteria for great power status in East Asia in the
post-Cold War period: 1) the ability to make war and peace, 2) provider of security, 3) generator of
wealth,8 4) it enjoys unequal representation in regional institutions and processes of rule-making,9 and
5) it is recognized as such by other states in the region, at least in rhetorical and diplomatic terms. Goh
also posited that a hierarchical international order was sustained by hierarchical assurance on the part of
the dominant state, and hierarchical deference on the part of subordinate states. She maintained that
hierarchical assurance by the dominant state consists of:10
1. The stable provision of public goods, chiefly in the security and economic realms;
2. The credible demonstration of benignity, through a) the assurance to other states that it has „no
territorial or overweening ambitions‟ 11; b) institutionalized self-restraint; and c) long-term
security and economic commitments to the region;
3. The provision of normative leadership, in the form of a socio-economic model and/or political
ideology that other states should emulate and identify with; and
5
Ibid. p.46-47
6
K. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979), p.
7
Ibid., Chapter 5
8
Goh derived this from the hegemonic stability theory proposed by R.A. Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981)
9
Goh derived the concept of „institutional power‟ from M. Barnett and R. Duvall (eds), “Introduction,” in Power In Global
Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), Chapter 9, pp. 15–17
10
Evelyn Goh, “Hierarchy and the role of the United States in the East Asian security order,” International Relations of the
Asia-Pacific Volume 8 (2008), pp.356-359
11
D. Kang, “Hierarchy and stability in Asian international relations,” in G.J. Ikenberry and M. Mastaduno (eds),
International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), pp. 163–190, 169–173

4
4. The provision of a mechanism for maintaining order, including ensuring means of assimilating
new great powers to the hierarchy and readjusting the relative positions in the hierarchy in
response to strategic changes.
In return, hierarchical deference from subordinate states consists of: 12
1. Acquiescence and lack of opposition or challenge to the dominant state‟s position;
2. Greater prioritization of their relationship with the dominant power than with any other great
power;
3. Accommodation to the dominant power‟s security imperatives;
4. Adoption of policies to reinforce the dominant state‟s primary position;
5. Ideological affinity with the dominate state and imitation of its governance and social-cultural
model; and
6. Support for the maintenance of the hierarchical order, including the rank order.

12
Goh (2008), op. cit., p.359

5
III
ANALYSIS

III.1. History of Cooperation and Alliance between Northeast Asian States


and United States
III.1.1. United States-Japan Alliance
The US and Japan had been allied since the Security Treaty of 1951 provided the initial basis for
the Japan's security relations with the US, signed after Japan gained full sovereignty at the end of the
allied occupation. It was revised after the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was signed in
Washington on January 19, 1960. Under the treaty, both parties assumed an obligation to maintain and
develop their capacities to resist armed attack in common and to assist each other in case of armed
attack on territories under Japanese administration. It was understood, however, that Japan could not
come to the defense of the United States because it was constitutionally forbidden to send armed forces
overseas (Article 9). The Mutual Security Assistance Pact of 1954 initially involved a military aid
program that provided for Japan's acquisition of funds, materials, and services for the nation's essential
defense. Although Japan no longer received any aid from the United States by the 1960s, the agreement
continued to serve as the basis for purchase and licensing agreements ensuring interoperability of the
two nations' weapons and for the release of classified data to Japan, including both international
intelligence reports and classified technical information.
By the late 1990's and beyond the US-Japan relationship had been improved and strengthened.
There had been friction in the relationship and trade disputes, but the major causes became less
problematic as China displaced Japan as the greatest perceived economic threat to the US Meanwhile,
though in the immediate post-Cold War period the security alliance suffered from a lack of a defined
threat, the emergence of North Korea as a belligerent rogue state and China's economic and military
expansion provided a purpose to strengthen the relationship. While the foreign policy of the
administration of President George W. Bush put a strain on the US‟s international relations, the alliance
with Japan has become stronger in the new millennium, as evidenced in the deployment of Japanese
troops to Iraq and the joint development of anti-missile defense systems. The notion that Japan is
becoming the "Great Britain of the Pacific", or the key and pivotal ally of the U.S. in the region, is
frequently alluded to in international studies, but the extent to which this is true is still the subject of
academic debate. In 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan came into power with a mandate calling for

6
changes in the recently agreed security realignment plan and has opened a review into how the accord
was reached,13 but US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the US Congress was unwilling to pay
for any changes.14
III.1.2. United States-China Relations
Most analysts have characterized present US-China relations as complex and multi-faceted, with
the US and China being neither allies nor enemies. Generally, the US government and military
establishment do not regard the Chinese as an adversary, but as a competitor in some areas and a partner
in others. Relations between the US and China have generally been stable with some periods of tension,
especially after the breakup of the Soviet Union, which removed a common enemy and ushered in a
world characterized by American dominance. There are also concerns which relate to human rights in
China and the political status of Taiwan.
While there are some irritants in Sino-American relations, there are also many stabilizing factors.
The US and China are major trade partners and have common interests in the prevention and
suppression of terrorism and in preventing nuclear proliferation. China is also the US's biggest foreign
creditor. China's challenges and difficulties are also mainly internal, and therefore there is a desire on
the part of China to maintain stable relations with the United States. The US-China relationship has
been described by top leaders and academics as the world's most important bilateral relationship of the
21st century.15
III.1.3. United States-South Korea Relations
The US-South Korea relations have been most extensive since 1948, when the US helped
establish capitalism in South Korea and fought on its UN-sponsored side in the Korean War (1950–
1953). During the subsequent four decades, South Korea experienced tremendous economic, political
and military growth, and significantly reduced US dependency. From Roh Tae-woo's administration to
Roh Moo Hyun's administration, South Korea sought to establish an American partnership, which has
made the Seoul-Washington relationship subject to some strains. However, relations between the United
States and South Korea have greatly strengthened under the Lee Myung-bak administration. At the 2009
G-20 London summit, US President Barack Obama called South Korea "one of America's closest allies

13
CSNSNews.com, “Japan Wants to Change Agreement on Relocating U.S. Marine Base Ahead of Obama‟s Upcoming
Visit”, http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/55507
14
“Gates: 'No Alternatives' to US-Japan Security Accord”, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2009/10/mil-
091020-voa01.htm
15
BBC News, Americas, “Clinton seeks stronger Asia ties,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7891511.stm and US-China
Institute, „ambassador clark randt on “the crucial relationship”,‟
http://china.usc.edu/%28X%281%29A%284MsF3725ygEkAAAAY2VmNzY3MmMtNjI1Yy00MDBkLWFjNGItNGQ1NG
I2NjMwZmYwLtQE8lEKrUJDrb8RXBRyXAxGlCk1%29S%28vn2jggbm1u3wq0zy5gpdcszt%29%29/ShowArticle.aspx?a
rticleID=1021&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

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and greatest friends."16
III.1.4. United States and Denuclearization of North Korea
The US-North Korea relations developed primarily during the Korean War, but in recent years
have been largely defined by the US's suspicions regarding North Korea‟s nuclear programs and North
Korea's desire to normalize relations with the US, tempered by a stated perception of an imminent US
attack. Sweden acts as the protecting power of the US interests in North Korea for consular matters, as
North Korea and the US have no formal diplomatic relations.

III.2. Analysis
III.2.1. Security Complex in Northeast Asia
Amity and Enmity in Northeast Asia
The four Northeast Asian states are mutually feeling enmity toward each other due to their
historical backgrounds and developments. China, which is big, centrally located, rapidly increasing in
its absolute and relative power, has border problems and historical enmities with several of its neighbors
(China occupied Japan since the 7th century and Korea since the 13th century, and now still doesn‟t
recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan), has an authoritarian government, backs on to Russia, and is in
nationalist mood. It is a nuclear weapon state (in 1996 it launched missiles off the coast of Taiwan)
whose image in its neighbors‟ eyes is bad since the Tiananmen incident and current “human rights
violations” (Tibet and Xinjiang). Many in the region fear rising Chinese military power and
assertiveness (especially Vietnam and Taiwan, and to a lesser extent India). Some fear the migration
threat that might unfold if China fell into political turmoil, and the environmental threat from its
rampant industrialization.17 Japan has left deep scars throughout East Asia for its imperial venture in the
colonial history between 1895 and 1945, particularly in China and Korea. North Korea is seen in
hostility for their communist government, totalitarian dictatorship, belligerent and provocative behavior.
South Korea is relatively not so adverse to the others, but some might dislike the fact that they‟re so
much under the influence of the US.
Regional Power Relations in Northeast Asia
There had been an active set of regional security dynamics in Northeast Asia stemming from
unresolved leftovers from the Second World War and earlier, most notably the quite public fear and
dislike of Japan in China and the two Koreas. All three countries took care to keep their worst memories
of Japan alive, and their diplomatic rhetoric escalated at the slightest provocation into securitization of
16
The Christian Science Monitor (CSMonitor.com) “As North Korea rocket launch nears, US allies discuss options,”
http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0402/p99s01-duts.html
17
Buzan and Wæver (2003) p.94

8
the possible (or suspected actual) remilitarization of Japan, or its intention to revive the hegemonic
structure of its pre-1945 „Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere‟. Other power politics among regional
powers were the making of two Koreas and two Chinas. The military option for reuniting the two
Koreas was tried in 1950 by the North, but failed, producing a stalemate that has endured since 1953.
The military option was not tried in the case of China, partly because of the military difficulty of
mounting an invasion across the Taiwan Strait, and partly because of US involvement. 18
Northeast Asian RSCs during the Cold War
Buzan and Wæver (2003) used the levels-of-analysis scheme from RSCT to produce the
following picture of East Asian security dynamics during the Cold War:19 From a global perspective, the
triangular game of containment and countercontainment among the US, the Soviet Union, and China
spanned not only East Asia but also South Asia. This global power game penetrated deeply into
domestic and regional security politics throughout the region. At the interregional level, the geostrategic
position of China and, to a lesser extent, historical memories of Japanese imperialism spanned the Asian
area sufficiently to think of it as a supercomplex: three regions loosely linked by great power-driven
interregional security dynamics. But at the regional level, South, Northeast, and Southeast Asian
security dynamics were largely separate. In Northeast Asia an older conflict formation was heavily
penetrated by superpower rivalry, though it remained visible in the local securitization rhetoric. The US
cultivated mainly bilateral alliances, and did nothing to encourage the formation of regional alliances or
institutions either within or between the two halves of East Asia. 20 It was that pattern of relative mutual
indifference that was to change after 1990, when the relinking of Northeast and Southeast Asian security
dynamics at the regional level (and not just in Chinese, Japanese, US, and Soviet perspectives) began to
unfold.
An Emergent East Asian Complex Post-1990
Buzan and Wæver (2003) showed that much of the securitization and desecuritization in East
Asian international relations was of a fairly traditional sort. Using the levels framework, they revealed a
useful story of continuities and changes summarized as follows:
1. At the domestic level, the main question was not about internal instability. It was about how the
political economies of the two big powers in the region (China and Japan) will evolve.
2. At the regional level, they saw strong continuities from Cold War to post-Cold War in Northeast
Asia.
3. At the interregional level, the big development was the merger of Northeast and Southeast

18
Ibid., p.130-134
19
Ibid., pp.128-143
20
Peter J. Katzenstein, “Regionalism in Comparative Perspective,” Cooperation and Conflict 31 (2), 1996, p.141

9
Asian RSCs into an East Asian one, contingent on concerns about China, on institutional
developments, most notably the ARF, and on acceptance of a strong linkage between security
and economic interdependence. This development changed the structure of levels through the
process of an external transformation merging two RSCs into one. South Asia remained in
much the same position within the supercomplex despite this merger, though India‟s
membership of the ARF and its concerns over Chinese penetration of Burma strengthened the
supercomplex pattern, as did the drawing in of Australia.21
III.2.2. United States’ Factor
United States’ Structural Power
By far the largest power in the international system in Asia is the US, which has a
disproportionate influence even in the multilateral institutions that are part of the system, as well as
trade turnover and military spending far in excess of the second largest power, China (using purchasing
power parity (ppp) figures).22
Country GDP Population Foreign trade Defense
$ billions millions turnover expenditures
(ppp) $ billions % of GDP
USA $14,440 (2008 est.) 307,212,123 (July $1.277 - $2.117 4.06% (2005 est.)
2009 est.) trillion (2008 est.)
China $7,992 (2008 est.) 1,338,612,968 (July $1.435 - $1.074 4.3% (2006)
2009 est.) trillion (2008 est.)
Japan $4,340 (2008 est.) 127,078,679 (July $746.5 - $708.3 0.8% (2006)
2009 est.) billion (2008 est.)
South Korea $1,338 (2008 est.) 48,508,972 (July $433.5 - $427.4 2.7% (2006)
2009 est.) billion (2008 est.)
North Korea $40 billion (2008 22,665,345 (July $1.684 - $3.055 NA
est.) 2009 est.) billion (2007)
Russia $2,271 (2008 est.) 140,041,247 (July $471.6 - $291.9 3.9% of GDP (2005)
2009 est.) billion (2008 est.)
Table _ GDP, population, trade and military spending of major countries militarily involved in Northeast Asia
Source: cia.gov
At the level of security, or the traditional arena of international rivalry that focuses on military and
strategic interaction, the US enjoys an unprecedented dominance over all other nations. 23 Not only does
the US spend far more on defense than any other nation at a remarkably small percentage of overall
GDP,24 but its position has been reinforced by the „revolution in military affairs‟,25 in which

21
Buzan and Wæver (2003), op. cit. p.144-171
22
Wayne Bert, The United States, China and Southeast Asian Security: A Changing of the Guard? (New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2003), p.20
23
Mark Beeson, “Southeast Asia and the Major Powers: The United States, Japan and China”
24
S. G. Brooks and W. C. Wohlforth (2002) “American primacy in perspective,” Foreign Affairs, 81 (4), pp.20-33
25
P. Dibb (1997-98) “The revolution in military affairs and Asian security,” Survival, 39 (4), pp.93-116

10
technological excellence has became an increasingly important component of military superiority 26. But
it is not simply the intimidating technical effectiveness of America‟s military hardware that accounts for
its position at the heart of the world‟s security architecture. On the contrary, in the East Asia in
particular, the US presence has been seen by much of the region as pivotal to maintaining a stable
balance of power, something that explains the continuing presence of American forces in the region at
surprisingly little cost to itself.27
United States’ Role and Position in Northeast Asia
According to Evelyn Goh (2008) the US is not a mere extra-regional actor, but the central force in
constituting regional stability and order of East Asia. She proposes that there is a layered regional
hierarchy in East Asia, led by the United States, with China, Japan, and India constituting layers
underneath its dominance. The major patterns of equilibrium and turbulence in the region since 1945
can be explained by the relative stability of the US position at the top of the regional hierarchy, with
periods of greatest insecurity being correlated with greatest uncertainty over the American commitment
to managing regional order.28
Hierarchy and the United States in Northeast Asia
Evelyn Goh maintained that the US has been indisputably the preponderant power in Northeast
Asia since 1945. Throughout much of post-war Asia, it has largely been acknowledged as the central, or
dominant, state with no local territorial ambitions. The US‟s key allies which institutionalize this benign
view through their defense treaties, but unallied countries also see it as an honest broker and offshore
balancer.29 The communist countries in the region, which have experienced containment, subversion,
and invasion by US forces, have good reason to disagree. But even China has accepted the idea of the
US as a stabilizing force in the region since the 1970s. The US has also been intimately involved in key
regional conflicts in East Asia after 1945. It intervened crucially on the side of the Allied powers to win
the war, and was a core player in the peace settlement for the Pacific theatre, especially in the
occupation and rehabilitation of Japan. During the Cold War, Washington intervened in hot wars and led
in containing communism, and after the Cold War, it has been critical in managing the main regional
conflicts on the Korean Peninsula and across the Taiwan Straits. Indirectly, it has provided a regional
security umbrella, which may have dampened or limited the regional effects of other bilateral or
domestic conflicts, such as the South China Sea territorial disputes. The US has also earned it dominant

26
J. S. Nye and W.A. Owens (1996) “America‟s information edge,” Foreign Affairs, 75 (2), pp.20-36
27
W.T. Tow, Asia-Pacific Strategic Relations: Seeking Convergent Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2001), p.168
28
Goh (2008), op. cit., pp.353-377
29
C.T. Goh, “ASEAN–U.S. Relations: Challenges,” speech to the Asia Society, New York, 7 September 2000; available at
http://www.asiasociety.org/speeches/tong.html and C. Layne, “From preponderance to offshore balancing: America‟s future
grand strategy,” International Security, 22(1), 1997, pp.86–124

11
position at the top of the East Asian hierarchy because of its critical economic role, in providing vital
market access to Japan and the other Asian „tiger‟ economies for their remarkable development, and in
continuing to provide significant investments to the region. Its socio-economic and political model has
become even more attractive in the region after the dissolution of the Soviet model at end of the Cold
War. In every way, the United States is the preponderant power and gatekeeper of the great power club.
Furthermore, the US-led hierarchy in East Asia since 1945 reflects our expectations of regional strategic
behavioral in such an order. First, the centrality of acquiescence by subordinate states is clear: most of
the main Asian states, with the partial exception of China, are either US allies or are cultivating closer
security relations with Washington. As discussed below, even China today is not challenging but
accommodating the interests of United States in the region. Second, the East Asian security order has
been most unstable when the United States‟ commitment to the region and thus its position at the top of
the hierarchy was uncertain and/or challenged.30

30
Goh (2008), op. cit., pp.360-361

12
III
CONCLUSION

By incorporating Buzan and Wæver‟s analysis of East Asia security complex, we find that
Northeast Asia order has been conforming with the US policy. During the Cold War, it had been the
stage for the US-Soviet containment game. The absence of any regional alliances or institutions in
Northeast Asia can also be understood that the US never managed the formation of any, since it had
always been conducting bilateral alliances. Post-Cold War, there has not been significant change from
Cold War regional complex. By incorporating Goh‟s conceptualization of hierarchy, we find that since
1945, the US has been indisputably the preponderant power in Northeast Asia for being intimately
involved in key regional conflicts in Northeast Asia, having critical economic role, and providing socio-
economic and political model for the region.
Hence, the answers to our thesis questions are clear: US structural power is so significant in
Northeast Asia that it helps the US maintains itself to be the dominant state in the region assuring
hierarchy. Other regional powers choose to cooperate and align with the US since they lack in power to
oppose or challenge US‟s position, therefore they choose to be subordinate states deferring hierarchy by
prioritizing their relationship with the US, supporting US‟s hierarchical domination, accommodate and
adopt US‟s security policies, and to some extent align their ideologies with the US‟s. The regional
security order is predicated upon the US‟s role and position since the US is the great power serving as
the regional pole, making the Northeast Asia security complex a supercomplex.

13
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Ikenberry, G.J. and M. Mastaduno (eds). International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific. New
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BBC News. Americas. “Clinton seeks stronger Asia ties.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7891511.stm
Christian Science Monitor, The (CSMonitor.com). “As North Korea rocket launch nears, US allies
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“Gates: 'No Alternatives' to US-Japan Security Accord,”
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International Relations of the Asia-Pacific Volume 8 (2008)
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