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• http://asiapolicy.nbr.org • asia policy, number 9 (january 2010), 159–66 Ellen L. Frost Asia’s New Regionalism Boulder: Lynn Rienner, 2008 • 293pp. Michael J. Green and Bates Gill, eds. Asia’s New Multilateralism: Cooperation, Competition, and the Search for Community New York: Columbia University Press, 2009 • 400pp. Kent E. Calder and Francis Fukuyama, eds. East Asian Multilateralism: Prospects for Regional Stability Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008 • 296pp. Naoko Munakata Transforming East Asia: The Evolution of Regional Economic Integration Washington: The Brookings Institution Press, 2006 • 258pp. review essay Asian Regionalism Edward J. Lincoln© The National Bureau of Asian Research, Seattle, Washington [ 160 ] asia policy Asian Regionalism Edward J. Lincoln Something institutional is stirring in East Asia. But what? How? Involving which countries? With what impact on regional and global security and economic issues? Analysts have been wrestling with these questions for some time, and the list of publications is growing. This review considers four of the more recent entries in this field of endeavor. The starting point is Ellen Frost’s excellent book, Asia’s New Regionalism. Frost has wide experience in global economic issues and would be the first to acknowledge that she is not an Asia specialist (although she certainly knew a great deal about the region before beginning this book). This generalist background is what makes this book particularly useful. She approaches the region as a newcomer and takes a very comprehensive approach encompassing economics, politics, and security. The book includes an instructive historical background covering the past several centuries. All too often, analysts (myself included) deal solely with what has happened since the 1980s, with scant reference to how the long history of the region has shaped more recent developments. FrostalsoprovidesausefulconceptualdivisionofAsiainto“maritimeAsia” (those geographical portions of Asia with access to the ocean and navigable rivers) and “Asia major” (the nation-states in the region). This division fits into her other major conceptual separation: regionalization and regionalism. Regionalization consists of the thickening web of trade and investment ties that has affected mainly maritime Asia. Regionalism refers to the process of building regional institutions, a process that involves the governments of Asia major. For the record, her list of the governments that make up Asia major includes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand (with Taiwan as a de facto presence). The rest of the book explores both the regionalization that has been occurring and the efforts to build regionalism. In assessing what is happening on regionalism, Frost is positive but cautious. She is positive by repeatedly saying that even small steps and weak processes should not be dismissed as trivial. For example, on security she notes that “however feeble intra-Asian security cooperation appears edward j. lincoln is Director of the Center for Japan-U.S. Business and Economic Studies in the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. He can be reached at . [ 161 ] review essay • asian regionalism to be at present, and however much both traditional and non-traditional security depends on U.S. forces, fledgling security cooperation should not be dismissed” (p. 198). But she is also cautious, providing an entire chapter dealing with obstacles and potential threats to further regionalism. Her conclusion, though, is fundamentally optimistic, and she provides a number of useful recommendations for U.S. policy toward the region, including the need to pay attention to this vital region of the world, not overreact to regional institutions that exclude the United States, and revitalize APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). Asia’s New Multilateralism, edited by Michael Green and Bates Gill, grew out of a conference held in 2006. Reflecting the small world of Asia policy analysts, Ellen Frost was a participant at that conference but is not one of the paper writers. Since this volume is a collection of individual papers, it is difficult in a review of this sort to address each contribution in detail. One of the strongest contributions to this volume is the opening overview chapter written by Green and Gill. They successfully tie all of the contributions together, and reach some overall conclusions. Along the way, they wrestle, as did Frost, with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2960
Print ISSN
1559-0968
Pages
pp. 159-166
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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