The Political-Security Environment in the Pacific: Evolutionary Change
DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE COLL WASHINGTON DC DEFENSE ACADEMIC RESEARCH SUPPORT PROGRAM
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Three developmentsfactors appear to be critical in exploring the emerging political-security environment in the Pacific. First is the dramatic decline of the Soviet threat. In the 1970s, the Soviet threat resulted in a de facto alignment of the United States, Japan, the Peoples Republic of China PRC, the Republic of Korea ROK, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN countries, Australia, and New Zealand against the Soviet Union, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Despite their anomalous positions. Taiwan was a de facto member of the American-led coalition while the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea DPRK was part of the Soviet bloc. The Soviet threat was, thus, an important determinant of the pattern of conflict and cooperation in the Pacific and the structure of security relations in the 197Os and 198Os. Changes in Soviet foreign policy beginning in 1985 made for a drastic erosion of the Soviet threat resulting in the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations in May 1989 and the ending of the Cold War in that year as well. The resulting rapprochement in major power relations can logically be expected to make for changes in the Pacific security environment. Second is the fact of continuing intra-regional conflictsdisputes in the region. In the past, the overlay of rivalries and conflicts among the major powers exacerbated and escalated local conflicts with negative consequences for systemic security. The third factor is the dynamism that characterizes the western Pacific economies. The changes in the relative weight of states and the patterns of conflict and cooperation created by this dynamism can be expected to affect both the structure of the political-security environment and the basis for conflict and cooperation in the Pacific.
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