Sunday, November 01, 2009

East Asia Community

Anyone who talks about an East Asia Community should be forced to define that term and stick to that definition through that particular discourse. Otherwise, any talk is at best meaningless. I think that this is a rule that should be generalized through all public discourse. It’s the only way to enforce basic rules of logic.

That’s it for today. Thanks for visiting.

7 comments:

Ross said...

Yes, the same goes for the use of the term reform.

But I wouldn't hold people to consistent use of an initial definition throughout a debate, as long as they conceded the adjustment in the course of the discussion.

Janne Morén said...

What, be clear about your terms beforehand, and don't change them to suit your argument? You really want to silence the entire internet?

Jun Okumura said...

Ross: I agree. In fact, without that, we'll all just be talking past each other.

Janne: Haha. Actually, I find people with backgrounds in the natural sciences or engineering to be more consistent. I guess that comes with the need for more than rhetoric to make the parts fit together.

PaxAmericana said...

I don't think the talk is meaningless: it has a purpose. It is to disarm the opponents of moving towards China and away from the US. It will be harder to attack vague proposals, and there is also the advantage of being able to make almost irrelevant calls to include the US in various groups in some form, such as observer status.

I'm curious, though, how you would proceed if you were in their camp.

Jun Okumura said...

PaxAmericana: It’s meaningless as part of any intellectual discourse, while the conceptual confusion can be seen on both sides of the argument. I’m not sure that there is a camp to speak of, since, for example, Hatoyama, Ozawa and the SDP each have quite different ideas about what standing up to the United States and deepening ties with China—that’s what East Asia boils down to—mean. In Hatoyama’s case, they seem to change with his audience and interlocutors.

PaxAmericana said...

Okumura-san,

I agree with you in all the points you wrote, but I was thinking of the early development of the EU. Things seemed awfully vague and focused on trade for a long time, but then it moved quickly towards the quasi-state model we see now.

The opponents of the EU were somewhat disarmed by not having a clear target to attack.

Jun Okumura said...

Paxy: Europe shared a common geopolitical goal (contain Germany), a common history (shifting webs of sovereignty, etc.), a common enemy (Russia), and common values (democracy). I don’t see any advantages accruing to the locals from an institutional framework in East Asia (pick your definition) that excludes among other actors the United States and the EU. And if it’s a gabfest you’re looking for, you have ASEAN+3, APEC, (the no-bite) ARF…

There’s always the chance that people are referring to the realities of the economic, social, cultural and political exchanges going on in the neighborhood. My reaction to that: Yes, but only in a trompe-l'œilly kinda way.