Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today released the 1998 East Asia Strategy Report (EASR). The 1998 EASR provides the U.S. security strategy for the East Asia-Pacific region and an assessment of the security challenges and opportunities the United States sees at the turn of the millenium. It updates U.S. progress over the past three years in building stronger and more stable security relationships, and puts forward a vision of how future steps will enhance Asia-Pacific security as we enter the next millenium.
In light of a variety of dynamic developments in regional security affairs since the last report was issued in 1995, it is appropriate to once again enunciate and reaffirm DoD's basic principles, strategy and vision for the Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. defense strategy in the Asia-Pacific region reflects and supports broader U.S. defense strategy to remain globally engaged to shape the international environment, respond to the full spectrum of crises, and prepare now for the future. Now, as in the past, the United States seeks a stable, prosperous and democratic Asia-Pacific community in which the United States is an active player, partner and co-beneficiary.
The 1998 EASR is structured around the following nine elements of our strategic approach to the region:
Maintaining comprehensive regional engagement, including the presence of approximately 100,000 U.S. troops in Asia;
Enhancing our alliance relationships with Japan, Korea, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines;
Working with the nations of Southeast Asia to broaden cooperation on security and confidence building;
Expanding our cooperation with Russia in the Asia-Pacific region;
Supporting the development of security pluralism, including expansion of multilateral, minilateral and bilateral dialogue in the region;
Promoting the spread of democratic norms and processes;
Stemming proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;
Addressing environmental degradation, resource competition, drug trafficking, terrorism and other transnational challenges as elements of comprehensive security.
The lack of a single overarching security institution in Asia demands the establishment of a security framework built on such a comprehensive, integrated approach to regional security. The elements listed above support a comprehensive engagement strategy of complementary ties and relationships built upon mutual interests. They reflect both the success of the U.S. traditional approach to Asian security, awareness of new regional challenges and opportunities since the end of the Cold War.
Alliances, especially bilateral security alliances, are the cornerstone of our regional security strategy. The 1998 EASR continues to highlight the central roles our alliances play in securing peace and stability in Asia. The integrated framework "security pluralism" is a result of the successful expansions of regional relationships. The U.S. remains confident that security alliances are in the mutual interest of all Asia-Pacific nations. Our posture has been reaffirmed in the past three years through concurrent and complementary development of constructive ties with non-allied states as well as the reaffirmation and enhancement of alliances.
The EASR process itself represents a fundamental U.S. interest in promoting transparency of force structure, defense strategy and military doctrine throughout the region. Continued development of similar public documents in the region is important to foster understanding, and enhances trust and confidence building among nations.