February, 2009

now browsing by month

Posted by: | Posted on: February 28, 2009

Anti-Democratic Politics: Book Review

Book Review

By Sophan Seng

Intervention & Change in Cambodia: Towards Democracy? By Sorpong Peou. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000, Hardcover: 573pp.

Recent studies of Cambodia have extensively focused on democracy building including its challenges as a post-conflict country. In 23 October 1991 is considered the significant turning point and it is the renaissance for Cambodia to develop democracy. This date is the Paris Peace Agreement collectively signed. The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was appointed as the central body to implement all tasks stipulated by the Paris Peace Agreement. Among those key goals is to neutralize Cambodia’s politics that have been divisive among different political factions and ideologies. Building the capacity for democracy in Cambodia after the Paris Peace Agreement is the main focus written by Sorpong. In order to reflect the reality of democracy development in Cambodia, Sorpong has turned 90 degrees arguments to draw attention by contrasting many different approaches of his thesis. His work is engrossed and erudite through the combination of the topical, analytical, chronological and descriptive approaches. He put effort to justify his book as not substantially based on quantitative or statistic research, but his approach is academically prevalent. He used democracy development as the independent variable and he precisely included Cambodia’s political anti-democratic behavior, internal political structures, and external intervention as the based dependent variables to secure his debate[1].

Sorpong Peou presently is the Associate Professor of Political Science at Sophia University in Japan. He received his PhD in York University from Ontario, Canada. His researches interest is International relations in the Pacific Asia, comparative politics of East Asia, collective human security. His written books focusing on Cambodia potentially reflects his academic background in this area and his nationality as a Cambodian-born Canadian accredits his comprehension on Cambodia issues very well. This book is worthy to read for those who seek to read the academic works from Cambodian scholar writing about Cambodia. Sorpong has numerously written many books about Cambodia such as “Cambodia – The 1989 Paris Peace Conference : Background Analysis and Documents” in 1991, “Conflict Neutralization in the Cambodia War: from Battlefield to Ballot-Box” in 1997, “Intervention & Change in Cambodia: Towards Democracy?” in 2000, “Cambodia: Change and Continuity in Contemporary Politics” in 2001, “International Democracy Assistance for Peacebuilding: Cambodia and Beyond” in 2007, “Human Security in East Asia: Challenges for Collaborative Action” in 2008 and other numerous published articles relating Cambodia. So we can agree that Sorpong has well illustrated his expertise on Cambodia.

Read More …

Posted by: | Posted on: February 17, 2009

Strategic Views on Asian Regionalism: Survey Results and Analysis

Strategic Views on Asian Regionalism: Survey Results and Analysis by Bates Gill, Michael Green, Kiyoto Tsuji, William Watts

This is the executive summary of a newly released CSIS study of elite opinion in Asia. The full report can be downloaded from the CSIS website www.csis.org/japan/asianarchitecture. It also draws on Asia’s New Multilateralism: Competition, Cooperation and the Search for Community, edited by Michael Green and Bates Gill (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).

Will Asia’s future see increasing economic interdependence and cooperation or growing power rivalry and confrontation? That strategic question will be answered in large measure by the region’s ability to construct effective multilateral institutions for integration and cooperation – what is now being called the new Asian “architecture.”

To illuminate the increasingly complex character of Asia’s new architecture, and to offer some practical judgments for future U.S. policy, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) initiated a series of studies in 2006 focused on the areas of convergence and divergence in national views of regional institution-building. Building on a conference in 2006 and a major edited volume, CSIS approached the MacArthur Foundation, the Asahi Shimbun (Japan), the JoongAng Ilbo Shinmun (Korea), and the Opinion Dynamics Corporation to design a survey of strategic elites in Asia that would map aspirations and expectations across the region with respect to Asia’s emerging architecture.

Read More …

Posted by: | Posted on: February 15, 2009

State and Society

State and Society or State in Society

State in society is concurrently under debate among political scientists. At least, there are three different schools who have initially justified their own assumption. Among those perspectives, two extreme conception of finding the distinction of state and society has been in a heated dialogue. Autonomous state and society state should be two different schools in the dialogue. I prefer these two concepts as the basic premise to get a very constructive argument. However, pure society advocates will argue that statist approaches have always regarded state as the key structure and autonomous entity in political science and they will further their reason that state itself should not be existed irrespectively. Timothy Mitchell intuitively divided the argument in an extreme way to distinguish the different between state and society, regardless of autonomous state and society state. In this extreme respect, I see the “autonomous state” is a state that has been organized in the way that state structure or state bureaucracy can play by it own autonomously and at least is has always exploited their own people in that territory. Peter Evans named this kind of state “predatory state” in case study of Zaire country. India and Brazil have shared similar development of bureaucratic structure like Zaire, but it is not common for Evans to call these two developed states as “predatory ones”. These two are more complex and sophisticated than the case of Zaire. In extent to that, the same autonomous state constituted of autonomous bureaucracy like Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, Evans, admitted the empirical success in economic development. He named these three last states as “developmental states”. Are these developmental states autonomous? Are these developmental states in or outside society? How about Zaire, that has been called a “predatory state”, is in or outside society?

While Timothy Michell tried to reflect the extreme approaches of debate on the abandoning of the state, the political scientists concurred that the term “state” itself has been vague, very subjective, unrealistic, unpractical and academically disagreeable. State itself is so skeptical about its implementation if it doesn’t connect to society, state will not exist and it will not possibly implement its policy. State is a very unfavorable for researchers in term of its terminology and practical political breeding. And when it comes to practice, the prestige of the state will be easily lost because of its despotic characteristic in itself and in case of modern state like Zaire, is a good example to the unpopularity of the term “state”. If we look back to history of political movements in the old age, the state didn’t appear. When most territories were organized under the totalitarian leadership such as absolute kings, absolute republicans or absolutely kleptocrats, the state didn’t exist in that time. The state or nation-state in modern age, at least, constitute some key manageable elements and structures such as coherent bureaucrat, intermediate judicial body, embedded public policy, and the rule of law etc. So, Timothy Michell, including Peter Evans and Joel S. Migdal have insistently suggested the middle path theory of the state and society. In their different perspectives but directing the same goal, state and society is interconnected and inseparable social entity. At the end of his article, Timothy Mitchell recommended five new approaches to deal with the controversy of state and society. He suggested that state should not be taken as a free standing entity; the distinction between state and society should nevertheless be taken seriously; subjective view of the state is essentially important for its activities of decision making and policy for the well-being of the people; the state should be addressed as an effect of detailed processes of spatial organization, temporal arrangement, functional specification and supervision and surveillance; and finally the state appears as an abstraction in relation to the concreteness of the social and as a subjective ideality in relation to the objectiveness of the material world.

Read More …

Posted by: | Posted on: February 3, 2009

Developmental States

Developmental States

The issues of developmental states have concentrated on the state intervention in building and rebuilding country economy. It has become an important part of the political economy which is the flagship of nation building in the post-cold war society. The debate in this reaction directly refers to the concept of “Bringing the State Back In” in our modern society. Implicitly, the state-centric analysis in developing the state, the government has still played important roles to build a strong economy. It has pivotally and pragmatically been relying on the state since the peasantry revolution, to industrialized innovation, and modern economic liberalization in trade and commerce. Evans skeptically stated that state is the “guardian of universal interests”. But the controversial debate that Evans made was that how effective state can take action to intervene the economy? And are there viable alternatives for state structure as well as sound policy of good governance to back up this effective intervention? Historically, we can see that each country in the reading articles is state-centered development. They shaped in different manner and policy enhancements.

First issue is the debate on state structure. First chapter, Evans elaborated the different structures that can help state intervention implement effectively. In case of governance, the state structure has been called “vertical structure” and “horizontal structure” or “vertical governance” and “horizontal governance”. Johnson has spent much of his time to articulate the developmental structure of the Military of International Trade and Industry (MITI) of Japan towards its economic miracle. In that phase, the state’s capital accumulation to growth and sustainability pursued in different strategies clearly compared the different between the United States and Japan. Regarding these two different approaches of economic development, Weber began the practice with his distinction between a “market economy” and a “planned economy”. With the same goal in this concept, Dahrendorf made distinction between “market rationality” and “plan rationality”, Dor made distinction between “market oriented systems” and “organization oriented systems”, and Kelly made distinction between a “rule governed state” and a “purpose governed state”. However, Johnson stressed that his comparison of these two economic strategies distinction is not in case of Soviet-type command economy because it is not plan rational, it is plan ideology. Soviet’s developmental economy was owned by the state and the state is the ownership of the means of production, state planning, and bureaucratic goal-setting (Evans, 1985). This is not in his dialogue to challenge the efficiency and effectiveness of plan rational conducted in Japan.

Read More …