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Economics and Security in the Asia Pacific: A Constructivist Analysis

Shaun Narine

International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000



The dominant rationalist theories of international relations (neorealism and neoliberalism) make distinctions between the actions and interests of states on the basis of economic and security concerns. In the wake of the end of the Cold War, international relations scholars are subjecting these dominant theoretical approaches to critical re-evaluations. Constructivist theory is fast emerging as a significant alternative approach to neorealist and neoliberal theories. Constructivism focuses on the importance of state identities to defining and understanding state interests and actions.

This paper uses a constructivist framework to examine the economic and strategic environment of the Asia Pacific. I argue that uncertainty about the identities and, therefore, roles of the dominant states in the region is creating an important security vacuum in the Asia Pacific. I focus on the relationship between the United States and China. I argue that the United States is uncertain of its role in the Asia Pacific and unclear on how to define itself in relation to China. As a result, its interests in the region are unclear. By contrast, China is more certain of its own role and position in the region. Nonetheless, China may possess a "dual identity" which is pulling it in different and often contradictory directions. This duality is confusing to China itself, as well as those states with which it has to deal. The U.S and China also have different understandings of the relationship between economics and security. These differences have further contributed to the uncertainty of the regional environment.

In addition to examining the relationship between the U.S and China, the paper also looks at the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN is consciously attempting to influence the norms of regional interaction in the Asia Pacific in an effort to assert political influence and shape state behaviour. While I predict that this project is unlikely to succeed, ASEAN's effort is worth analyzing as an example of an attempt by smaller states to exert a normative influence over international relations. As such, it is a further demonstration of the validity of the constructivist project.

This paper is divided into three main sections. First, I briefly review neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism, before presenting a detailed account of the theoretical logic of constructivism. Second, I apply constructivist concepts to the US-China relationship. Third, I use constructivist principles to examine ASEAN's attempt to assert influence in the region.


Theoretical Overview: The Neo-utilitarian Approaches and Constructivism

  Neorealism and Neoliberal Institutionalism

Neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism are the dominant theories of international relations within mainstream North American international relations scholarship. Much of the debate in the field has been articulated in terms of disagreements between these two approaches. However, these two theories actually share many fundamental assumptions. Over time, they have converged to the point that there is actually very little to distinguish one from the other, though significant differences do remain. The inherent and shared limitations of these two theories have invited the development of more comprehensive and useful theoretical approaches. I shall briefly review these two theories, before moving onto a consideration of constructivism. .

Neorealism is the dominant theory of international relations in North America. It argues that states act in accordance with the material structural incentives of the international system. State behaviour reflects the position of states within the international system. States' interests and strategies are based on calculations about their positions in the system 1 . Thus, states seek to, at the least, maintain their relative positions in the system 2 . The greater a state's capabilities, the higher it is in the international hierarchy of power, and the greater its influence on the international stage. The structure of the international system is defined by this distribution of capabilities.

The neorealist understanding of state behaviour is underpinned by five core assumptions 3 . The first and most fundamental is the assumption of anarchy . "Anarchy" is a lack of overarching authority within the international system. This means that there is no power beyond states themselves that can enforce international agreements or protect the legitimate interests of states. The second assumption is that states possess military power and can be dangerous to each other. To neorealists, power is reducible to military capabilities; this power is assumed to be "fungible across all issue-areas". 4 Third, states can never be certain of the intentions of other states. An ally one day may be an enemy the next. Fourth, states are motivated by a concern with survival. Finally, states are instrumentally rational actors.

Anarchy means that states must always be preoccupied with issues of security and their survival; they can rely only on themselves, and fear other states. 5 If states do not act in accordance with the demands of anarchy, they will be selected out by the system, i.e., destroyed. 6 Using this logic, neorealists depict international cooperation as extremely difficult to achieve. States will avoid cooperation if other states benefit relatively more from a cooperative relationship. States are also concerned about being cheated by their putative partners. 7

Neoliberal Institutionalism attempts to use the spare, self-interested rational actor assumptions of neorealism to show that cooperation under anarchy is possible within the international system. Neoliberals mostly attribute this cooperation to the ability of international institutions/regimes to mitigate the effects of anarchy. For the purposes of this discussion, I use the definition of "regime" as articulated by Stephen Krasner:

International regimes are defined as principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors expectations converge in a given issue-area. Principles are beliefs of fact, causation and rectitude. Norms are standards of behavior defined in terms of rights and obligations. Rules are specific prescriptions or proscriptions for action. Decision-making procedures are prevailing practices for making and implementing collective choice. 8

Robert Keohane is largely responsible for the development of neoliberal institutionalism and many of its subsequent innovations. 9 He describes states as being "rational egoists" - they are narrowly self-interested and concerned only with maximizing their own utility. When "calculating" their own utility, they have little interest in the utility functions of other states. Thus, if a cooperative endeavour is mutually beneficial, states may engage in that cooperative behaviour 10 . Finally, it should be noted that neoliberals generally restrict their theory to economic interactions, believing the dynamics of cooperation to be much different in security affairs. 11

Keohane accepts the neorealist characterization of an anarchic international system. Again, "anarchy" indicates a lack of overarching authority which means a lack of enforcement mechanisms to ensure state compliance with international agreements. As a result, neoliberalism identifies a fear of cheating and defection as the major impediments to cooperation between states. This fear prevents cooperation even when it is rational for states to work together to their mutual benefit. Institutions or regimes address this fear in three distinct ways:

  1. they create a sense of legal liability (i.e., create a sense of obligation between states to adhere to rules, agreements). 12
  2. they reduce transaction costs between states (reduce the cost of interactions both within and between issue areas, reduce the likelihood of rules being broken). 13
  3. they provide transparency (provide information about issue areas and state actions. This is the most important function of regimes). 14

The overall effect of regimes is to reduce uncertainty within the system, thereby allowing states to cooperate more fully. Thus, regimes mitigate the effects of anarchy.

Neorealism and neoliberalism both study "regimes" as the instruments of states. The effectiveness of a regime is directly measured by the level of compliance with its rules demonstrated by states. Regime theorists acknowledge that regimes are one, less fundamental kind of international institution. 15 However, they are not interested in exploring the intersubjective elements of deeper institutions. Whether or not this problem can really be avoided is open to debate. 16 According to Ruggie, neorealism and neoliberalism: share very similar analytical foundations. Both take the existence of international anarchy for granted,, though they may differ as to its precise causal force. Both stipulate that states are the primary actors in international politics. Both stipulate further hat the identities and interests of states are given, a priori and exogenously - that is to say, external to and unexplained within the terms of their theories. On that basis, both assume that states are rational actors, maximizing their own expected utilities, defined in such material terms as power, security and welfare. 17

The inability of these theories to explore the reasons why states define their identities and interests as they do significantly limits the ability of these approaches to explore or explain international change. These theories do not allow for the operation of fundamental international normative structures. By contrast, social constructivist theory presents a model of international interaction that is directed towards exploring the normative influence of fundamental institutional structures and the connection between normative changes and state identity and interests.

Constructivist Theory

Knowledge-based theories of regimes focus on how the preferences and interests of states are formed. 18 The "strong cognitivist" approach focuses on the effect of international institutions and communicative actions on the identities of international actors. From this perspective, the "international regimes" studied by rationalist approaches are superficial manifestations of much deeper normative/institutional structures that form the foundation of international society. These deeper institutions affect actors "preferences and basic self-identities". 19 At the same time, however, the institutions themselves are constantly reproduced and, potentially, changed by the activities of actors. Institutions and actors are mutually conditioning entities. 20

Strong cognitive theories argue that regimes/institutions have both regulative and constitutive functions. Regulative norms set basic rules for standards of conduct by prescribing or proscribing certain behaviours. Constitutive norms define a behaviour and assign meanings to that behaviour. Without constitutive norms, actions would be unintelligible. The familiar analogy theorists use to explain constitutive norms is that of the rules of a game, such as chess. "(B)y defining acceptable behavior and by explicating the consequences of individual moves, (constitutive norms) enable the actors to play the game and provide the actors with the knowledge necessary to respond to each other's moves in a meaningful way." 21

Constructivist theory accepts all of the basic premises of the strong cognitivist approach, but is most focused on the role of identity in explaining state actions. Alexander Wendt defines "constructivism" in the following terms:

Constructivism is a structural theory of the international system that makes the following core claims: (1) states are the principal units of analysis for international political theory; (2) the key structures in the states system are intersubjective, rather than material; and (3) state identities and interests are in important part constructed by these social structures, rather than given exogenously to the system by human nature or domestic politics. 22

The constructivist approach claims that states identities and interests are socially constructed. Therefore, understanding state behaviour means understanding the international social context in which it evolves.

States have a corporate identity, the "intrinsic, self-organizing qualities that constitute actor individuality". 23 A state's corporate identity generates basic state "appetites", such as the desires for physical security, stability, recognition by others, and development or improvement for the lives of its citizens. These appetites are prior to social interaction, and provide the motivating force for state action. However, how states fulfil the needs of their corporate identities depends upon their social identities, i.e., how states see themselves in relation to other states in international society. On the basis of these identities, states construct their interests. Constructivists accept that anarchy is the characteristic condition of the international system, but argue that, by itself, it means nothing. What matters are the variety of social structures that are possible under anarchy. 24 It is important to understand that states may have many different social identities, that these can be cooperative or conflictual, and that state interests vary accordingly. States define their interests in the process of defining the social situations in which they are participants. 25 Thus, the Cold War relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union was a social structure wherein the two principals identified each other as enemies and defined their national interests regarding each other in antagonistic terms. When the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. no longer defined each other in these terms, the Cold War ended. 26

Constructivism emphasizes that international structure consists of social relationships as well as material capabilities. Indeed, social relationships give meaning to material capabilities. According to Wendt:

Intersubjective systemic structures consist of the shared understandings, expectations, and social knowledge embedded in international institutions and threat complexes, in terms of which states define (some of) their identities and interests. 27

Wendt defines an "institution" as:

...a relatively stable set or "structure" of identities and interests... Institutions are fundamentally cognitive entities that do not exist apart from actors' ideas about how the world works. 28

Institutions and states are mutually-constituting entities. Institutions embody the constitutive and regulative norms and rules of international interaction; as such, they shape, constrain and give meaning to state action and define what it is to be a state. At the same time, institutions continue to exist because states produce and reproduce them through practice. The social relationships that define state identity and, therefore, state interests, develop within the context of institutions. States usually assign meanings to social situations on the basis of institutionally defined roles. Because states and institutions are constantly in process, there is always the possibility that each can bring about change in the other. Constructivism suggests that state identities and interests - and how states relate to each other - can be altered at the systemic level through institutionally-mediated interactions. 29

Constructivists focus most of their attention on institutions that exist at a fundamental level of international society, such as international law, diplomacy, and sovereignty. However, the regimes studied by rationalist approaches are also important. Constructivists argue that these regimes also reproduce constitutive as well as regulative norms, a dimension generally ignored by rationalists. These regimes "help to create a common social world for interpreting the meaning of behavior." 30 A regime's proper functioning, however, also presupposes that the more fundamental institutions are already in place, making its activities possible. These regimes, therefore, do not create cooperation; they benefit from the cooperative effects of much deeper structures.

As a theoretical approach, constructivism is difficult to employ. Wendt states that "(c)onstructivists...are modernists who fully endorse the scientific project of falsifying theories against evidence." 31 However, the theory is very difficult to falsify. Constructivism, for example, does not predict any particular social structure to govern the behaviour of states. Rather, it requires that a given social relationship be examined, articulated and, ultimately, understood. When this is done, then it may be possible to predict state behaviour within that particular structure. However, if these predictions prove false, it could be that the governing social structures were not properly understood or, given that they are always in process, have simply changed from what they were. Wendt has presented a "pretheoretical" constructivist approach to the development of collective identities. He describes, in a skeletal form, how constructivists would explain the formation of collective identities between states as the increase in identification that states have with each other. This enhanced identification is a direct result of changes in identity brought about by institutionally-promoted interaction. 32 Nonetheless, constructivism does not require that this be the outcome of social processes; institutions, as has been noted, can encourage conflict as well as cooperation. Indeed, as Wendt points out, both neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism can be subsumed by constructivist theory. Both of these approaches describe a particular kind of international society, from which proceed identities and interests that are described by the respective theories. Whereas the neo-utilitarian approaches focus on material capabilities and simply ignore social interactions, however, constructivism recognizes that these theories actually make fundamental assumptions about the social content of the international system. Thus, neorealism's description of the implications of anarchy proceeds from an interpretation of international society as a Hobbesian "state of nature". This is a description of a set of social relationships which give meaning to the material capabilities of states, however, a reality which neorealism does not acknowledge.

If constructivism's utility as an explanatory theory is unclear, it is more productive as a metatheoretical framework. Constructivism's emphasis on the importance of institutions to state action, their relationship to norms, and the importance of understanding the social structures governing state relationships makes it possible to ask a completely different set of questions than rationalist approaches when examining events in post-Cold War East Asia. What are the social structures and relationships presently characterizing the region? How do states perceive their identities, and those of their neighbours? What interests follow from these perceptions? In answering these questions, it becomes possible to articulate an alternative understanding of the forces shaping the Asia Pacific.

For the remainder of this paper, I will apply constructivist analyses to the security environment of the Asia Pacific region. I will focus on examining the relationship between the United States and China. I will also consider the normative role that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is attempting to play within the region. My primary concern is to determine if the constructivist focus on identity and interests can shed any light on the relationship between economic and security concerns in the region.


A Constructivist Analysis of the Asia Pacific Region

The primary concern of the following analysis is to examine the roles of identities in shaping the relationship between China and the United States. I argue that, for the United States, its relationship with China is heavily affected by its liberal ideology and identity. The Americans define China largely as an economic partner, and are uncertain about its status as a security threat. As a result, the United States' own identity and interests in the Asia Pacific are unclear.

By contrast, China clearly defines itself and its interests in terms of security. China has a strong sense of its appropriate place in the Asia Pacific and a powerful sense of historical grievance for its "century of shame". According to Koro Bessho, China's definition of itself as a great power and as an underdeveloped and victimized third world country is part of a "dual identity" that confuses both China and its neighbours. 33 China sees its security interests as advanced by its economic well-being. However, for China, economic progress is clearly a servant of, and subordinate to, deeper national interests.

As a third component to this analysis, the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) stands as an organization that is attempting to assert political influence in the Asia Pacific by advancing its own normative structure for regional relations. ASEAN is attempting to fill a normative vacuum in the region that has opened up as a result of the uncertain identities and relationships of the major regional powers.


China and the United States: An Uncertain Relationship

The characteristic that most clearly defines East Asia in the post-Cold War period is "uncertainty". Much of that uncertainty revolves around the fact that the key relationships in the region remain undefined. In the post-Cold War era, the United States' commitment to East Asia's security is unclear, especially to the states of the region. The U.S. has played a crucial role in establishing and maintaining regional stability. However, its activities during the Cold War were motivated by its interest in "containing" (or at least opposing) communism. In the post-Cold War era, the American relationship to East Asia - particularly Japan and China - has become strained by economic tensions. The American-Chinese relationship is especially problematic. The U.S. wishes to approach China as a real and potential economic partner. China's view of the United States, however, is quite different.

China sees itself as, historically, the dominant power in Asia. It is determined to regain that status. This does not necessarily mean that China is a threat to its neighbours. However, it does view itself as being entitled to a certain regional deference. To China, the United States is a threat to its status in the region. It sees the US in very realist terms, and has reacted by trying to do what it can to counterbalance American power. It has tried to pursue a relationship with Russia in order to offset American power. More recently, it has threatened Taiwan. Some analysts argue that the threats against Taiwan were a deliberate effort by China to give notice to the U.S. that China is more interested in creating a multipolar world than in pursuing stable economic relations with the Americans. The recent Chinese defense White Paper, which asserted China's willingness to use force against Taiwan and also insisted upon a timetable for reunification is, in this analysis, a rebuff to American attempts to create stable, bilateral relations with China. While this may be the American goal, China's efforts are more focused upon containing the United States. 34

An important part of this analysis is the recognition that China and the United States both have "economic identities". Economic arrangements reflect social and political choices, and are an important aspect of a state's identity. The United States sees itself as a liberal economic entity. Its national interests are served by promoting an international liberal economic order. Ideologically, the US also believes that liberal economic relations will promote international peace and harmony. China, by contrast, has a far less sanguine view of the international liberal economic order. It recognizes that the values that the Americans associate with the liberal economic order are not necessarily beneficial to Chinese interests. China is also well aware that many observers feel it can be "tied down" by being incorporated into the international system. 35 China's primary interest in the new world order is regaining its international stature and historical power and influence. Economics is simply another means through which to pursue these larger security interests.


The Role of ASEAN

The uncertainty in the Asia Pacific revolves around questions of intentions: what are the intentions of the United States; perhaps more important, what are the intentions of China? A discussion of intentions requires a consideration of state interests and identities. The uncertainty that characterizes Southeast Asia (and the larger Asia Pacific) today is a fundamental confusion about basic interests and identities. Constructivist theory argues that state interests and identities are created by (and, in turn, reproduce) the social structures of a society of states. In the case of Southeast Asia, what may be lacking are clear social structures. Due to the end of the Cold War, the region is in a genuine state of flux where nothing is certain. The situation is one where even the major players of the region may not know what their interests and identities really are. Consciously or not, ASEAN is trying to step into this institutional gap by trying to convince these players - notably China - to adopt norms and rules of conduct that reflect ASEAN's values. 36

The ASEAN states are unsure of the American commitment to their security precisely because they are unsure of how the United States defines itself and its relationships with the region. During the Cold War, the U.S. defined itself, in part, by its rivalry with the Soviet Union. That rivalry was enough to keep the United States engaged in Asia. That is no longer the case, and the American international identity - and from this, its national interests - remain undetermined. 37

This dynamic is even more apparent in China's relationship to ASEAN. One of the most theoretically puzzling aspects of ASEAN's conduct is that it considers China as both a potential threat and opportunity. This ambivalence reflects the fact that ASEAN is, again, uncertain of how China defines itself. Many ASEAN leaders fear that China has an imperialistic identity. The opposing viewpoint is that China now needs the economic assistance of the outside world. This need creates an opportunity to "socialize" China into becoming a "responsible" member of the international community. ASEAN believes that its values and example can serve as the model for China's future regional interactions.

Eventually, the social structures in the region will solidify as the different regional powers complete the redefinition of their identities and corresponding interests. By that time, if ASEAN has not taken advantage of the present window of opportunity to affect those identities and interests, it will be unable to do so. 38

Constructivist theory implies that ASEAN may have created a collective identity that is now an important part of the identities of its member states. This development would help to account for the states' commitment to the organization. The evidence that the ASEAN states view themselves as part of a collective, however, is lacking. Though intra-ASEAN relations have definitely improved over the past thirty years, the ASEAN states continue to put their individual national interests and security perspectives ahead of a sense of regionalism. 39 Moreover, if ASEAN's strong sense of regional identity explained its transformation, it would not account for the organization's decision to open its membership to three new members, none of whom have had time to be socialized into the ASEAN collective.

Though constructivism's focus on collective-identity formation is not helpful in the ASEAN context, its larger metatheoretical framework does offer some clues as to how and why ASEAN is following its particular evolutionary path. Constructivist theory emphasizes the central role of identities in defining state interests; it also portrays institutions as expressions of the social rules and norms that constrain international society. If we approach Southeast Asia from the perspective that it is part of an international society, then ASEAN's activities begin to take on a clearer meaning. If we critically examine the identities and interests governing state conduct in the region, the picture becomes clearer still.

In the post-Cold War period, ASEAN's greatest efforts have gone towards preserving and enhancing its international political status. ASEAN was initially opposed to APEC because of the fear that APEC would challenge its regional primacy. AFTA emerged, in part, as an attempt by ASEAN to maintain its internal cohesion. The ARF, which is now, arguably, the centrepiece of ASEAN's activities, was initially forced upon the organization. ASEAN agreed to establish the ARF because it hoped to channel the process and control whatever emerged. ASEAN's expansion can be understood in the context of enhancing its diplomatic clout. Bringing Southeast Asia together under one institutional roof will increase ASEAN's ability to speak for the region and further improve its political standing. Even though the ASEAN states have limited military and economic resources, they believe that ASEAN can influence political events in Southeast Asia on the basis of an authority it possesses as the representative of the region. The ASEAN states are acting as though they believe that political power emanates from more than the barrel of a gun or the value of a dollar. Whether or not this is the case is, for the moment, a moot point. Much of ASEAN's development in the post-Cold War period can be understood from this perspective. The single most important explanation for the ASEAN states' commitment to ASEAN is the fact that the member states feel they enjoy far greater international influence as part of a larger regional organization than they would ever possess as individual states. 40 The lesson ASEAN took away from its experience with Cambodia was that it could be a meaningful international actor. In accordance with this belief, it has acted to protect its perceived political advantage as the most successful international institution in the region.

This is not to argue that ASEAN has planned its development. As noted above, most of the institution's recent transformations have been in response to external forces. However, ASEAN had the original desire to preserve its perceived regional status; evidently, it felt that this status was important. ASEAN then took advantage - or tried to take advantage - of different situations as they evolved. The best example of this is the ARF. ASEAN agreed to form the basis of the ARF, and has since insisted on dominating the forum's agenda and has tried to export its own diplomatic methods to the other participants. ASEAN has taken this position despite the fact that its members are, by comparison to many other ARF participants, militarily weak. ASEAN is asserting a status for itself that its actual material capabilities do not justify. Nonetheless, it is attempting to use institutional structures and its political standing to set the norms and rules that govern interaction in the region. It has, for example, attempted to get the ARF participants to subscribe to the terms of ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

ASEAN is trying to exercise political power in Southeast Asia on the basis of its presumed ability to influence the normative structures of regional interaction. However, I must emphasize that this paper is examining the reasons for the transformation of ASEAN, the organization. The individual ASEAN states are keeping all of their options open, ASEAN's diplomatic influence being one of those options. The ASEAN states are also arming themselves with sophisticated new weaponry, partially out of concern with potential regional threats. They are actively trying to keep the United States engaged in Southeast Asia. Moreover, the ASEAN states are quite "realist" in their individual outlooks. They are very conscious of their own national interests. However, they also clearly view normative factors as important in the conduct of international relations, and they apparently believe that the contemporary Asia Pacific provides an opportunity for them to affect its future evolution. This viewpoint is more understandable when we consider the nature of the regional "uncertainty", which revolves around the indefinite normative structures underpinning regional relations.


Note 1: Robert O.Keohane, "Theory of World Politics: Structural Realism and Beyond," International Institutions and State Power (Boulder: Westview Press, 1989), 41. Back.

Note 2: Joseph Grieco portrays states as "defensive positionalists." As such, they do not necessarily seek to maximize their gains in relation to other states. This is in contrast to realists such as John Mearsheimer, who argue that states seek to maximize their gains at all times, to better ensure their security. See: Joseph Grieco, Cooperation Among Nations (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), 37-37-40; John Mearsheimer, "The False Promise of International Institutions," International Security 19, No.3 (Winter 1994-1995), 11; Hasenclever, et al., 202. Back.

Note 3: These assumptions are identified and explained in: Mearsheimer, 10. Back.

Note 4: David Baldwin points out that the question of military force being the primary source of power has not been a focus of the recent debate between neorealism and neoliberalism. Even so, the focus on the absolute-relative gains debate seems to be reducible to a concern about the possible use of military force by one state against another. The fungibility of military is an issue that will likely re-emerge at some later point. See: David Baldwin, "Neoliberalism, Neorealism and World Politics" in Neorealism and Neoliberalism: the Contemporary Debate (New York, Columbia University Press, 1994), 23. Back.

Note 5: Kenneth Waltz, "Political Structures" in Robert O. Keohane, ed., Neorealism and Its Critics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 81-97; Grieco, 3-4; Keohane, "Theory," 40-42; Mearsheimer, 11. Back.

Note 6: Grieco, 39. Back.

Note 7: Mearsheimer, 12-13. Back.

Note 8: Stephen Krasner, "Structural causes and regime consequences: regimes as intervening variables," in Stephen Krasner, ed., International Regimes (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983), 1; Quoted in Hasenclever et al., 179. Back.

Note 9: The theory of neoliberal institutionalism was introduced in: Robert O. Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy,(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984). Back.

Note 10: Keohane, After Hegemony, 27,66. The "absolute-relative gains" debate revolved around the charge that this neoliberal interpretation of state behaviour is, in fact, a misrepresentation of neorealist thought. Neorealists argue that states are usually more concerned about relative gains than absolute gains, and are interested in how much a cooperative partner gains from an interaction. Back.

Note 11: Charles Lipson, cited in: Mearsheimer, 16. Back.

Note 12: Keohane, After Hegemony, 88. Back.

Note 13: Ibid., 89. Back.

Note 14: Ibid., 92-96. Back.

Note 15: Keohane identifies three kinds of institutions: international organizations, international regimes, and conventions. "Conventions" are equivalent to the "deep institutions" I discuss below. See: Robert O. Keohane, "Neoliberal Institutionalism: a Perspective on World Politics," International Institutions and State Power (Boulder: Westview Press, 1989), 3-4. For a discussion of attempts to narrow the regime concept, see: Marc A. Levy, Oran A. Young, Michael Zurn, "The Study of International Regimes," European Journal of International Relations 1, No.3 (September 1995), 270-274. Back.

Note 16: Kratochwil and Ruggie argue that regimes, even as defined by rationalists, are inherently intersubjective. See: Friedrich Kratochwil and John Gerard Ruggie, "International organization: a state of the art on the art of the state," International Organization 40 (Autumn 1986), 766-775. This debate will be implicitly addressed, but not developed, in the course of this paper. Back.

Note 17: John Ruggie, "What makes the world hang together? Neo-utilitarianism and the social constructivist challenge," in Constructing the World Polity (London:Routledge, 1999): 9. Back.

Note 18: Hasenclever et al. divide knowledge-based theories of regimes into two general categories: "weak cognitivist" and "strong cognitivist". The weak cognitivists generally complement rationalist approaches to regimes by emphasizing the roles of ideas, learning and epistemic communities in defining state interests. By contrast, strong cognitivism emphasizes the importance of international society and is fundamentally at odds with rationalist regime theories. For a discussion of weak cognitivism, see Hasenclever et al., 206-210. Back.

Note 19: Christer Jonsson, "Cognitive Factors in Explaining Regime Dynamics," in Volker Rittberger, ed.,Regime Theory and International Relations (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 213. Back.

Note 20: The relationship between agents and structures is at the heart of the agent-structure debate. Constructivist theory is based on a structurationist approach to this debate, which emphasizes the equal status of agents and structures as mutually conditioning entities. For more on the agent-structure debate and the constructivist use of structuration theory, see Alexander Wendt, "The agent-structure problem in international relations theory," International Organization 41, No.3 (Summer 1987),335-370. For a critical review of Wendt's use of structuration theory, see Steven Bernstein, "Secret Agents, Free Will and the Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations," Unpublished Paper (March 1993). For more on the agent-structure debate, see David Dessler,"What's at stake in the agent-structure debate,"International Organization 43, No.3 (Summer 1989),441-473; Walter Carlsnaes,"The Agency-Structure Problem in Foreign Policy Analysis," International Studies Quarterly 36 (1992), 245-270. Back.

Note 21: Hasenclever et al., 211; James Busumtwi-Sam and Steven Bernstein, "Legitimation Contests and International Governance: A Social Structural Model" Unpublished paper, 5. Back.

Note 22: Alexander Wendt, "Collective Identity Formation and the International State," American Political Science Review 88 (June 1994), 385. For the purposes of this discussion of constructivism, I will rely primarily on the work of Wendt. He is the preeminent contemporary theorist on constructivism. See: Hasenclever, et al, 214-215. Back.

Note 23: Ibid. Back.

Note 24: Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power politics," International Organization 46, No.2 (Spring 1992), 391-425. As Wendt points out, an anarchy of friends is quite different from an anarchy of enemies, but both are possible. Back.

Note 25: How and why particular social structures and relationships develop between different states is a matter for historical research and analysis. Past interactions between states set the context for the present, and may produce fairly rigid identities and interests, but such an outcome is not inherent to the logic of the structure. See: Alexander Wendt, "Constructing International Politics," International Security 20, No.1 (Summer 1995), 77. Back.

Note 26: Wendt, "Collective," 385-386; Wendt, "Anarchy," 397-398; Wendt, "Constructing," 74. Back.

Note 27: Wendt, "Collective," 389. State identities and interests may also be affected by domestic political factors, an element which Wendt recognizes, but which falls outside of the systemic focus of constructivism. Back.

Note 28: Wendt, "Anarchy," 399. There is some suggestion that "social structure" is a broader concept than "institution". The previous quotation identifies "threat complexes" - which may include such social relationships as the "security dilemma" and perhaps the Cold War - as social structures. However, Wendt does not define this concept and generally uses it interchangeably with "institution". No other commentators on Wendt's work have identified this distinction as important. Therefore, for the purposes of this paper, I will consider "social structure" and "institution" to be essentially the same. Back.

Note 29: Wendt, "Constructing," 72-74; Wendt, "Anarchy," 398-399. Back.

Note 30: Hasenclever, et al., 211. Back.

Note 31: Wendt, "Constructing," 75. Hasenclever et al. note that constructivists have been criticized by "post-positivist" critics as trying to pursue positivistic causal explanations when their theory is far more "interpretivist" in its orientation. Hasenclever et al., 216. Back.

Note 32: Wendt, "Collective," 388-394. Back.

Note 33: Koro Bessho, Adelphi Paper 325: Identities and Security in Southeast Asia (New York: Oxford University Press, March 1999): 27-38. Back.

Note 34: "The Hidden Meaning of Beijing's White Paper", Back.

Note 35: Gerald Segal, "Tying China into the International System", Survival 37, No.2 (Summer 1995): 60-73. Back.

Note 36: As noted earlier, the values of ASEAN's TAC are not unique; they are essentially the same as that of the UN Charter and conventions of international law which restrict conflict and protect state sovereignty. However, the TAC may have greater regional legitimacy because it is the product of a regional organization. ASEAN's efforts to convince other states to subscribe to its corporate objectives, however, is also a case of the organization trying to exert political power through the medium of norms and rules. Back.

Note 37: The argument that states may be confused by the decline of existing social structures is explicitly advanced by Wendt in relation to the decline of the Cold War and the U.S./Soviet Union: "The absence or failure of roles makes defining situations and interests more difficult, and identity confusion may result. This seems to be happening today in the United States and the former Soviet Union: without the cold war's mutual attributions of threat and hostility to define their identities, these states seem unsure of what their "interests" should be." Wendt, "Anarchy," 398-399. Back.

Note 38: A high-ranking Indonesian official privately expressed to me the view that the ASEAN states were very aware that they had a limited window of opportunity - perhaps 20 years - in which to "socialize" China to the region. After that, he feared that China would become too big and independent to restrain. Back.

Note 39: This conclusion is based both on a reading of ASEAN's internal problems during the Cambodian invasion and on research conducted in Southeast Asia from 1994-1995. I interviewed a series of scholars and government officials in all of the ASEAN states of the time. A strong opinion emerged that the ASEAN states were thoroughly committed to their own national interests and had a relatively weak sense of regionalism. However, the ASEAN states were strongly committed to ASEAN for the international political advantages it afforded them. See: Shaun Narine, The Evolution of ASEAN, dissertation, University of Toronto, 1998 Back.

Note 40: This conclusion is based on original research conducted in Southeast Asia in 1994-1995. See: Narine, The Evolution of ASEAN. Back.