Thursday, June 11, 2009

Books on Security Issues in Southeast Asia

Security in Northeast Asia is coming into the spotlight again with North Korea's recent nuclear weapon tests. North Korea shall be an interesting subject for a future post. But for this post, I thought it would be better to focus on security issues closer to heart for the Southeast Asian region. Here, weapons of mass destruction are certainly a concern but they often pale in significance compared to more "mundane" security threats, including non-traditional ones. These are a few books that provide a good overview of the wide range of security concerns in this region:
  • Terrorism In South And Southeast Asia In The Coming Decade. Edited by Daljit Singh. The papers in this volume addresses threats at the international, regional and national levels. At the international level, the scholars point out that the threat from terrorism will be a protracted one; the growth of sanctuaries in the tribal areas of Pakistan that harbour Al Qaeda and other extremist groups enhance the threat globally; and that the US withdrawal from Iraq should be seen to be taking place after defeating Al Qaeda there. Contributors believe in the importance of state effectiveness and good governance that provides sound legal regimes, and efficient, credible and transparent judicial systems; effective local police forces trained for counter-terrorist operations. Ideally the police and intelligence services should lead this fight but where the use of the military is unavoidable, care should be taken not to over-militarise responses which could result in innocent civilian casualties. They also agree on the need to contest and defeat extremist ideology, best done by Muslim communities themselves, and better regional and international cooperation, particularly at the operations level.
  • Long Shadow, The: Nuclear Weapons And Security In 21st Century Asia. Edited by Muthiah Alagappa. The 18 separately referenced papers in this substantial study of nuclear weapons and security issues in Asia is the fruit of three years of cooperative research and discussion by some 60 specialists from 14 countries. The two introductory papers, which overview Asia's perspectives and strategies are followed by separate investigations of the nuclear polices of the six nuclear weapon states; the three Asian nuclear-capable states; the two aspirant nuclear weapon states; the three allies of nuclear weapon states; and a paper on "non-aligned" ASEAN. Deterrence, long-term issues and regional stability are explored in the final two papers.
  • Covering Maritime Piracy In Southeast Asia by Werner Vom Busch and Tobias Rettig. These five papers and five wide-ranging discussion reports are from the 2006 Kuala Lumpur seminar on piracy in Southeast Asia from media/journalistic perspectives. Many aspects of the urgently-perceived subject were raised, including: Indonesia and maritime security in the Malacca/Singapore Straits; causes and context of pirate arsons since the 1990s; and international cooperation in piracy prevention and media coverage of piracy.
  • Maritime Security In Southeast Asia. Edited by Kwa Chong Guan and John K Skogan. This book examines maritime security challenges in Southeast Asia and the responses that they provoke. These threats include traditional security threats as well as a range of non-traditional threats, such as piracy and international terrorism, which spill over into the maritime domain. Events such as September 11 and the designation of Southeast Asia as a 'second front' in the war against terrorism, have resulted in the growing realisation that multilateral security cooperation is required in order to manage the security of the seas. Expert contributors identify the nature of Southeast Asia's maritime security problem. They also critically evaluate the various responses by countries and organisations within and without the region.

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