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Coexistence in an Interdependent World

Satyabrat Sinha

Edited by Nihar Nayak
IDSA with Pentagon Press, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 256, Rs. 995.00


The Peace of Westphalia 1648 laid out the ideals of the state, the Westphalian ideal, which was only realized three centuries later with the end of the colonial era and national self-determination as the sole principle of the political organization of the world. The world became populated by bounded national, social, economic and cultural communities. The questions of national sovereignty are still highly charged and lie at the core of the Westphalian ideal of territoriality, autonomy, primacy of the state and the anarchy of the international system. It is the end of the Cold War which liberated various regions of the world from overarching superpower competition. Simultaneously, the rising global interaction with the flow of trade, capital and people across national borders facilitated by physical, normative and symbolic infrastructure that underwrite the global condition turned the attention on regional aspects of security.   The focus on regions also received impetus from the growth of regionalism in the 1980s, in the tripolar economy encompassing North America, North East Asia and Europe. A region is a spatial concept, defined by geographical proximity, the intensity of interactions, shared cultural identities and institutional frameworks. But regions are also dynamic entities, spatially defined cultural, economic, and political constructions, whose nature and functions are transformed over time (Griffiths and O’Callaghan 2004: 274). The regional integration of economies and their relative success in South East Asia and Latin America among others propelled states towards a plethora of regional economic agreements to exploit the synergies of collectives. The regionalizations involved a significant change in attitude and behaviour for erstwhile adversaries and also sacrifice of sovereignty. The success of economic regionalization also achieved notable success in ameliorating political and security issues, sometimes, as a result of being part of the collective, in others as a consequence of the economic integration. Such was the shift in state to state relations in some regions owing to the successes of regionalization that a linear developmental vision foresaw that all regions would come to represent the structure of the current European Union (EU) in some form or the other or at its bare minimum, some approximation of the Association of South East Asian nations (ASEAN). Strategic thinking is dominated by the realist conception of security. According to Realism, threats to a state’s security arise chiefly from outside its borders and these threats are primarily military in nature and generally call for a military response.   Scholars ...

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