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The Real “Humanist Dilemma” in the Asia-Pacific: Striking a Balance between Political Realism and Liberal Idealism


In Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, Robert D. Kaplan (2014) makes the claim that conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea, between a rising China and its increasingly guarded neighbors, will spell the end of the post-World War II stability in the Asia-Pacific. Referencing John J. Mearsheimer’s belief in the “stopping power of water,” Kaplan (2014) suggests that the particular geography of the Asia-Pacific “will foster the growth of navies, which, while … not as worrisome as the growth of armies in continental Europe at the beginning of the last century,” may provoke “‘routinized’ close encounters between warships of different nations at sea, creating an embryonic risk of armed conflict.” (p. 7, 11) Kaplan (2014) further adds that this risk will only intensify as Asia’s collective energy consumption soars; as countries grapple over increasingly scarce energy resources, he says, their conflicting claims over the resource-rich littoral states of the South China Sea must gain in precedence, leading to a heightened state of military preparedness in the region. Read the rest of this entry

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