Executive Summary:  On January 10 & 11, 2001, the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies held a conference on domestic determinants of security policy in ten key Asia-Pacific countries/areas that focused on security institutions and policy-making processes.  This conference was the first of three conferences contributing to this effort and to the Center’s overall objective of promoting security-related dialogue and building understanding and relationships in the region.  The following is a summary of the key conclusions from the conference:

Security Must Be More Broadly Conceived:  Evaluating the region in terms of the traditional notion of “national security” is clearly inadequate.  The major shift in the concept of security to include a number of nonmilitary and nontraditional issues reflects a change in the relationship between the state and the people because many states have failed to provide physical security, material welfare, and a habitable environment to its people as well as the growing role of non-state actors such as sectoral groups and transnational corporations.  

Different Perspectives Exist On Whether Internal Or External Threats Are Paramount: Although there was some disagreement over whether it was possible to categorize security threats into internal versus external, most country representatives had no difficulty labeling their chief security threats as either internal or external.  In some states, internal security problems are central. The primary threat to the stability and viability of the Fijian state is internal.  Quite simply, there is little sense of nationhood among all those who are citizens of the Fijian state.  Internal security issues do not loom large in the Japanese perspective, since Japan is a remarkably orderly and homogenous society. In other states, external threats are seen as vital.  External security challenges are said to matter most for India. Indeed, the importance of internal issues such as poverty, governance and illiteracy were said to “pale by comparison” with regional security concerns such as China, Pakistan, nuclear weapons capabilities and the changing power distribution in the wider Asia-Pacific.

 Institution Building Was A Common Theme Across The Region: In Singapore, security policy, like domestic policy, is made by a small group of elites (members of the Singapore cabinet) dominated by the former Prime Minister and current Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew. In the Republic of Korea, the function of the Korean National Security Council could be significantly reinforced, allowing it to have coordinated and controlled authority over security related areas from the Ministries of National Defense, Foreign Affairs & Trade, Unification, and Finance in order to approach the national security issues covering security, unification, and economy.

Civil-Military Cooperation Is Often Markedly Impacted By Domestic Factors:  For instance, China has relatively positive civil-military relations since the popular attitude toward the military remains overwhelmingly favorable and the military remains under civilian control. Civil-military cooperation has taken a different turn in Indonesia. Indonesia’s security policy-making apparatus, particularly its civilian leadership, currently does not have the capability or willingness to adequately resolve the country’s primary security problem of internal instability.

 Several Key Domestic Influences Include The Media, Generational Change, and Think Tanks:  The media, whether independent or run by the government, seems to be a tool often used by different elements with a state to influence security policy-making. In the United States, for instance, despite the media’s image as a “watchdog” over officialdom, the news is subject to being managed by savvy politicians.  In general the American media’s relationship with power is symbiotic: newsmen cooperate with officials in order to gain access to the information officials control. With generational change, both nationalism and a willingness to discuss sensitive subjects such as national defense appear to be increasing. Taiwan’s younger generation for instance, whether they are of native Taiwanese or mainland origin, are increasingly focused on Taiwan itself and not mainland China, reflecting growing Taiwanese nationalism.  Think tanks and academic institutions also play a role. In the Philippines, both governmental and nongovernmental think tanks provide regular policy recommendations to the Secretary of Defense on security matters.  


The Asia-Pacific region is undergoing a myriad of changes at the dawn of the 21st century.  These shifts are clearly reflected in the emerging security policies throughout the region.  Domestic trends are impacting security from the growth of internal security concerns, the building of security policy-making institutions, the diversity in civil-military relations, to non-institutional influences such as the media and generational change.  Some trends among the domestic determinants of security institutions and policy-making could be discerned.  Some factors were more or less unique to individual countries.

The relative importance of internal vs. external security differs among the ten countries/areas considered. Some states see their security threats as domestic in nature, while other states see their security threats as almost exclusively foreign.  Nonetheless, domestic considerations are always critical in determining security policy.  It is interesting that the key Asia-Pacific potential flashpoints have an extraordinarily high degree of “internal” or “national” character, such as cross-strait relations or the Kashmir dispute.  It is also clear that one country’s internal security challenges, such as the management of Indonesian domestic crises, have external security implications.  The Asia-Pacific region has a high degree of consensus that traditional concepts of security are being replaced with comprehensive definitions that not only include border defense and freedom from external invasion, but also human security, regime security, and economic stability. 

Security-related institutions are under review across Asia. First, there may be a trend towards strengthening security institutions. Two reasons why may be the weakening of charismatic and strong political leadership (e.g. Nehru, Gandhi, Lee Kwan Yew, Deng Xiaoping) and the fact that there are more internal and external factors that must be accommodated. Second, there appears to be a trend towards revamping earlier security policy-making set-ups.  A real challenge to institutions is how to channel new actors, especially non-government ones such as the media, Internet, think tanks, and public opinion.  Third, in the debate about transparency vs. opaqueness of institutions and security policy-making, there is a lack of clarity over whether existing opaqueness is intentional or not.  Finally, institutions and policy-making procedures are often breached during security crises, even when institutions are quite strong.  

Most of the issues raised about civil-military cooperation addressed the question: “What is the appropriate level of military influence in national security affairs?” There was a range of perspectives on this question, often dictated by domestic factors. For example, in the case of India, it was argued that the military’s role should increase because it is needed to ensure that military operations are successful.  In the case of the Philippines and Indonesia, it was argued that the military role should increase to help restore order in the midst of domestic disorder.  On the other end of the spectrum, in the case of the United States, it was argued that the role of the military was excessive in national security policy-making.  In the case of Japan, it was argued that there is almost no civil-military cooperation or dialogue at all, a trend that is likely to persist.

There is a steady broadening of factors that must be taken into account on security policy.  Other domestic influences include the media, public opinion, generational change, and think tanks.  It was generally agreed that these were secondary factors but increasingly influential in security-policy making.

The conference also explored the linkages between these elements and searched for commonalities among the ten key Asia-Pacific countries/areas considered.  The conference was divided into four sessions: (1) Internal Vs. External Security Issues; (2) Institutions of National Security Policy-making;  (3) Civil-Military Cooperation; and (4) Other Key Actors/Influences in National Security Policy-making.  These topics are presented here by country/area.


As the new millennium begins, China is at a crossroads.  The question of where it will head in the new century is of far-reaching significance not only for its own 1.2 billion people but also to the entire Asia-Pacific region.  Security policy in China seems to be making an interesting shift.  The shift is toward the concept of comprehensive security.

 Internal Vs. External Security Issues in China

 In China, there is improvement in understanding internal vs. external security.  Regarding both internal and external security, China’s security policy has been primarily reactive, always seen through the prism of the historical burden and ideology.  Security is becoming an overriding concern in China, arguably rivaling economic growth.  Acceptance of comprehensive security is rising in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to expand the traditionally held concept of security to include not only military threats but also economic, environmental, regional, energy, and regional elements.

Comprehensive security is summed up by strategists in Beijing as having four factors.  First, if national security means safeguarding the basic interests of a nation state and its people, then complex issues beyond a traditional military threat now threaten national security.  Second, the strength of a nation is the aggregate of a combination of factors, such as the economy, military strength, science and technology, social stability, education, and international credibility.  Third, comprehensive security has a multi-national nature that is conducive to international and regional cooperation.  Finally, non-military solutions to disputes have become more desirable than ever.

Internal security issues primarily involve economic security.  Economic security is recognized as a priority after the Asian economic crisis.  Witnessing the serious dilemmas of many of its neighbors, China concluded that the threat toward national security did not have to be missiles aimed toward its territory.   That crisis forced China to look at its own financial system and found it fairly weak and burdened with too many non-performing loans.  Its paramount concern is the economic needs of a huge population of 1.2 billion.  China must have enough food, water, and other resources to meet the demand of so many people.  In addition, China needs foreign trade to economically grow and foreign petroleum to meet its burgeoning energy needs.

Nonetheless, internal security is very stable due to economic growth and good political statesmanship. Internal party discipline is being enhanced.  The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is carefully creating new sources for its re-legitimization, such as promoting stability, economic growth and patriotism. 

External security threats are still more likely to be identified as problems than internal security threats.  Security can easily translate into military security, especially for those Chinese who are more than 40 years old.  These Chinese either lived through the Japanese aggression and occupation of the 1930s and 1940s, or heard tales of that war from elders, history books and the media.  Many Chinese strategists stress the importance of military force.  They warn against the naiveté that military force is no longer useful.

The concept of external security threats is grounded in a sense of a “hostile international environment”.  The late Deng Xiaoping saw the major countries in the world engaged in intense competition in economic strength as well as science and technology.  There remains a suspicion of the motives of the developed nations with their overwhelming military strength.   According to China’s “White Paper: China’s National Defense 2000”, most of the threats identified were external threats.

The security situation in the Asia-Pacific region has been on the whole stable. …

However, in today's world, factors that may cause instability and uncertainty have markedly increased. The world is far from peaceful. There is a serious disequilibrium in the relative strength of countries. No fundamental change has been made in the old, unfair and irrational international political and economic order. Hegemonism and power politics still exist and are developing further in the international political, economic and security spheres. Certain big powers are pursuing "neo- interventionism," "neo-gunboat policy" and neo-economic colonialism, which are seriously damaging the sovereignty, independence and developmental interests of many countries, and threatening world peace and security. The United Nations' authority and role in handling international and regional security affairs are being seriously challenged. Under the pretexts of "humanitarianism" and "human rights," some countries have frequently resorted to the use or threat of force, in flagrant violation of the UN Charter and other universally recognized principles governing international relations. In particular, the NATO, by-passing the UN Security Council, launched military attacks against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, producing an extremely negative impact on the international situation and relations between countries. A series of negative developments have occurred in the area of arms control and disarmament. In particular, a certain country is still continuing its efforts to develop and introduce the National Missile Defense (NMD) and Theater Missile Defense (TMD) systems, which have undermined the international community's efforts to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to promote disarmament. …

Institutions of Chinese National Security Policy-making

 Security policy-making is very institutionalized in China.  Three overlapping bureaucracies control the political, governmental and military activities of the People’s Republic of China:  The Party, the State, and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).  In ultimate control is the CCP.  The Communist Party Chairman, Jiang Zemin, chairs both the Politburo and its powerful executive group, the Politburo Standing Committee.  The CCP Secretariat supports the Politburo.

Jiang Zemin is not only the head of the Party but also holds the seat of President as head of the State.  Subordinate to the president is the State Council, which is presided over by Zhu Rongji.  The PLA is also directly under Party control.  The top level of PLA authority is the CCP’s Central Military Commission (CMC), of which Jiang Zemin is the Chairman.  Its two Vice-Chairmen, Generals Zhang Wannian and Chi Haotian, direct the CMC’s routine work.

The CCP Politburo has 24 members.   Within the Politburo’s Secretariat are seven people, each responsible for specific affairs, led by Vice-President (and current heir apparent) Hu Jintao, including: Zeng Qinghong, Wei Jianxing, Ding Guangen, Zhang Wannian, Luo Gan, and Wen Jiabao.  This Secretariat handles routine decision-making and implements policies.  Within the Politburo’s powerful seven member Standing Committee, almost all important affairs are handled.   This Standing Committee meets frequently and its members include Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, Zhu Rongji, Li Ruihuan, Hu Jintao, Wei Jiangxing, and Li Lanqing.  Within the Standing Committee, the Foreign Affairs Leading Group includes Jiang Zemin, Zhu Rongji, and Li Peng.  Within the Standing Committee, the Political and Law Leading Group looks at domestic affairs.

The CCP’s eight-member Central Military Commission heads the PLA, which includes the PRC’s army, navy, and air force as well as the Second Department.  The CMC has a powerful bureaucracy that meets regularly to address administrative matters and formulate military policy and strategy.

The State’s Central Military Commission, an organization within the State bureaucracy rather than within the CCP bureaucracy, is theoretically a separate body, but in reality it has no unique powers because its membership mostly mirrors that of the CCP’s Central Military Commission.  The Ministry of Defense, which is also within the State bureaucracy, has a largely ceremonial role.  The domination of the PLA by the CCP is fairly complete.

China, based on the experience of the Belgrade Embassy bombing, needs an emergency security council.  As the institutions exist, all emergencies need to be dealt with through either the laborious bureaucracy of State and the CCP or through the Standing Committee.  

There are few other active institutions in China impacting security policy.  For instance, while NGOs in China are gaining momentum, they are not officially encouraged.  Chinese business is a potential actor but is still dwarfed by the enormity of the state controlled economy.  Chinese media is too strongly controlled to independently impact security policy, although some information comes in through the Internet.

 Civil-Military Coordination in China

 There is direct civilian control over the military in that the CCP maintains control over the PLA.  The most obvious example of the CCP’s practical control over the PLA is Jiang Zemin’s role of Chairman of the CMC.  Jiang is the first leader to not appoint any military officers to the powerful CCP Standing Committee, although two officers remain on the Politburo.  Additionally, the Party control over the military is clearly outlined in the PRC Constitution.   Finally, Mao’s famous dictum “the Party controls the gun” is still widely quoted in China.

 There has been a structural change to deal with internal security.  The ‘armed police’ emerged after Tiananmen, trained to react to emergencies.  They also work, in conjunction with the PLA, on border control.

 The average Chinese civilians still respect the military as an important actor.  The PLA helped restore order after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.  The PLA still provides a good career path for both disadvantaged rural youth and for unemployed urban youth.  Attempts are being made to address some of the issues of pay equity to ensure that this relatively high status of the military continues.

 In answer to the question of whether the military will emerge as a national army rather than the CCP’s army, the answer appears to be no for two reasons.  Primarily, it has been the tradition in China over the past hundred years for the military to be under political rather than state control.  Second, there is no military strongman to practically move control of the military from the CCP to the State, especially since the Party also controls the State.

 Other Key Actors/Influences in Chinese National Security Policy-making

 Policy-making institutions in the PRC appear to be increasing as the country passed its 50 anniversary.  The process of institution building begun under Deng Xiaoping has continued under Jiang Zemin.  This trend toward increased institutionalization is likely to continue under China’s next leader, who is currently predicted to be Hu Jintao.  Central security policy-making is directed by the Standing Committee and under civilian Party control.

 Another key factor in Chinese national security policy-making is the attitude of the younger generation.  The younger generation tends to have a far less rigid definition of friends and foes in terms of national security.  As China becomes more and more affluent, this younger generation holds a more optimistic view of the world.

 No conclusion can be drawn that the CCP will remain all-powerful.  Despite many positive things the government has done for the country, there is the pull of the negative things the government has done including official corruption, polarization of wealth, problems of law and order, increasing unemployment and the historical legacies of the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the Tiananmen Square Incident.  A worsening social and economic environment could be politically explosive.  Without solutions to these fundamental issues even a strong state can collapse over time.  The role the military would play in such a scenario would largely depend on the particulars of the situation.


 A contemporary examination of the security institutions and policy-making process in Fiji begins with the recognition that these institutions and processes, especially today, are in a state of flux. After the relative calm of the Oceania region was upset by two coups in Fiji in 1987, thirteen years later it seemed as if Fiji had returned to a point of relative harmony. This image was shattered on May 2000, when George Speight led an armed force and took control of Fiji’s Parliament Building.  Several members of the Government, including Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji’s first Prime Minister of Indian descent, were held hostage for 56 days. The end of the standoff brought about the abrogation of Fiji’s 1997 Constitution and placed the governance of Fiji in the hands of an interim government established by the military. The interim government has declared that a new constitution will be developed, and that new elections will be held in the next 18 months. Many analysts fear this new constitution will explicitly preserve political power in the hands of indigenous Fijians, most obviously by reserving the highest offices of President and Prime Minister exclusively for Fijians. Such an openly racially biased constitution will not get much international support, but could be necessary to satisfy elements within Fiji’s society and prevent any further violence. The situation has been further complicated with a decision handed down on 1 March 2001 by Fiji’s High Court which declared that the 1997 Constitution has not been abrogated and thus remains in force. Therefore, the duly elected Chaudhry Government is supposed to be returned to power. The interim government has pledged that it will hand over power, but has not given a definite timetable in which it will do so. Fiji’s situation, to say the least, remains uncertain.

Internal Vs. External Security Issues in Fiji

 Fiji shares with the other island states of the Pacific the evaluation that there is no eminent, viable external military threat confronting them. The primary threat to the stability and viability of the Fijian state is internal in nature.  Quite simply, there is little sense of nationhood among all those who are citizens of the Fijian state. 

 Prior to colonization, there really was no unified entity of “Fiji.” When the British entered, however, they used Chiefs from the Eastern Divisions of Fiji as their surrogates. The Eastern Divisions are culturally more hierarchical and conservative than those in the North or Western Divisions. As a result of the connection between the British and the Eastern Divisions, political power even after independence has been dominated by Fijians from the East. Furthermore, most of the high military officers have been from the East as well (Fiji's former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka being the clearest example).  There is not yet a currently accepted term for “citizen of the state of Fiji.” “Fijian” is used nearly exclusively to denote Indigenous Fijians, while “Fijian Indians” or “Indo-Fijians” to denote those of Indian descent. The 1997 Constitution suggested the term “Fiji Islander” as a politically neutral and inclusive term. While it will take more than a name to build a community, names and titles are powerful symbols and can signal new beginnings.

Institutions of Fijian National Security Policy-making 

The state of flux in Fijian national security policy-making is exacerbated by the fact that the military, the institution that is by definition the protector of the state, is currently one of the primary sources of insecurity in Fiji. Lt. Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka, third in command of the armed forces, led the two coups in 1987 and led as Prime Minister from 1987-1999. Members of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit (CRW) of the Fiji Army aided Speight in the May 2000 coup. Those responsible for the 2000 coup, as well as the prior 1987 events, frequently point to the ethnic split between indigenous Fijians and Fijian Indians as being the source of the strife that culminated in the coups. Indo-Fijians are perceived as having an economic advantage over Ethnic Fijians. Some concern therefore exists that should Indians gain political advantage in Fiji, the indigenous population would be disenfranchised in their own land. Closer examination would suggest that this ethnic divide provides only a first layer, and perhaps only a cover to other rifts in Fiji that must be considered in an analysis of Fiji’s security. A sense of relative deprivation between communities (inter-Fijian and intra-Fijian) may be a more accurate description of the tensions in Fiji.  

 Although it has been declared by the court that 1997 Constitution is still the law of the land, there remain few definitive statements that can be made about the policymaking institutions in Fiji. It is eminently possible that a new constitution will arise that will create new security institutions and/or relationships.

Civil-Military Coordination in Fiji

 In terms of civil-military coordination in creating security policy-making, the one thing that can be said with certainty is that the armed forces have played much too great a role in the governing of Fiji over the last 14 years. This is quite evident in the two coups led by Rabuka in 1987, but can also be seen by the participation of some members of the CRW in the Speight coup. There was even some discussion after the 1987 coups for the military, as an institution, to receive guaranteed seats in parliament. The fact that the armed forces are over 95% Indigenous Fijians hinders any perception of multicultural acceptance (or political neutrality) by the military. As the majority of the higher-ranking officers are from the Eastern Divisions of Fiji, this also has not contributed to a sense of inclusiveness and diversity.

Other Key Actors/Influences in Fijian National Security Policy-making

The most significant outside actor in Fiji’s security picture is international opinion. The problem of the media discussion on the Fiji coups (both 1987 and 2000) is the tension between the values of indigenous rights and more “basic” human rights such as equal opportunity/representation. Both values hold much support, and so there is a dilemma when they are placed in opposition to each other. The May 2000 coup certainly has nothing actually to do with the protection of indigenous rights beyond one George Speight, who was set to face trial for fraud, doing his best to stay out of prison. Unfortunately, Speight was able to cloak his attack in the rhetoric of protection of indigenous rights. On the government side, former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry made no friends with his personal style, described as confrontational and abrasive.


As with other elements of the so-called Nehruvian consensus (named after India’s first and long-serving prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru), India’s security policy is undergoing change. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, India’s main political, economic, and military partner has disappeared. And with the end of the bipolar international order, nonalignment, the guiding principle of India’s post-independence foreign policy, is essentially meaningless. India worries that a unipolar world constrains its margin for maneuver. These two major international developments have had the effect of increasing pressure on India to achieve its one static goal: strategic autonomy. It is in this context that India’s evolving security policy must be seen.

 Internal Vs. External Security Issues in India

 External not internal security challenges are said to matter most for India. Indeed, the importance of such internal problem as poverty, poor governance and illiteracy were said to “pale by comparison” with external security concerns such as China, Pakistan, nuclear weapons capabilities and the changing power distribution in the wider Asia-Pacific. From beyond the Asia-Pacific region, however, India does not foresee a direct military threat. Still, India continues to worry about developments at the international level that in its view perpetuate a discriminatory world order and constrain the emergence of greater multi-polarity. Other security challenges emanating from the global level are new threats such as terrorism, money laundering, the narcotics trade, demographic shifts and information warfare. Though there is a growing sense that India’s security challenges emanate from outside the country, many within and outside India continue to point out that insurgencies, poor governance, poverty and identity conflicts over faith as well as caste are pressing security problems.

 Institutions of Indian National Security Policy-making

 India’s security policy-making institutions are undergoing considerable review and reform. Though debates on restructuring of these institutions have waxed and waned, it was not until very recently, in the wake of the 1998 nuclear tests and the 1999 Kargil War that an urgent review and concrete action were undertaken. Indeed, it was the Kargil Commission established by the government of India that led to a thorough review of four aspects of security policy and related institutional processes: Higher defense-decision making, intelligence, border security management, and internal security management.

 The main innovation of this review was the formal establishment of a National Security Council (NSC). Earlier attempts to establish an NSC had failed. The Prime Minister chairs the NSC and is joined by the Ministers of Home Affairs, Defense, External Affairs and Finance as well as the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. The military service chiefs are invited on an as-needed basis. A National Security Advisor has been appointed, but a shortcoming is that this position is “dual-hatted” with a full-time secretary position in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). A Strategic Planning Group (SPG) sits under the NSC where it manages inter-ministerial coordination. An NSC Secretariat supports the NSC and is staffed by experts as well as military officers. A National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) comprises non-government experts and retired officials. So far, the NSAB has been given two high-profile tasks, a Strategic Defense Review (SDR) and the elucidation of a “draft nuclear doctrine” for public consideration and government decision. The SDR remains unreleased to the public.  The national security apparatus flowing from the NSC supports the Cabinet Committee of Security Affairs (CCS), which was established in 1998. The CCS takes over only the national security issues of the previous Cabinet Committee of Political Affairs (CCPA). In essence, the new CCS is a more focused body to deal with security issues alone.

 Despite the security institution innovations, questions of management, decision-making, and resource shortcomings persist. Also, there are still institutional issues to be sorted out. For example, the NSC secretariat (NSCS) was created by merging the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and the new NSCS organization. But there are drawbacks with having intelligence assessments and policy options handled within the same organizations.

 Civil-Military Coordination in India

 Civil-military relations in India have been poor in terms of coordination, but strong in terms of civilian pre-eminence. There are several explanations for this state of affairs. First, the army was the main coercive instrument used to maintain colonialism and therefore developed a poor image. Second, the emphasis on non-violence during India’s independence movement and the anti-military attitudes of Prime Minister Nehru reduced consultation and cooperation with the military during the formative years of the post-independence period. A third factor explaining weak civil-military coordination is the commitment to democracy and strong civilian control over the military. Closely related to this factor is the zealous guarding of security-policy-making prerogatives by India’s political and bureaucratic leadership. And the strong personalities of India’s civilian leaders such as Mr. Nehru and later his daughter Mrs. Gandhi undermined the development of strong and independent institutions, whether civilian or military. 

 However, there are indications that the role of the Indian military in security institutions and policy-making is on the rise. For example, as noted above, service chiefs are now invited to the newly established National Security Council’s meetings when matters relevant to them are on the agenda and the defense component of the NSC’s secretariat is being strengthened through the regular assignment of serving officers. And, the three service chiefs are permanent members of the Strategic Planning Group (SPG), whose function is to carry out inter-ministerial coordination under the overall direction of the NSC. 

 Despite efforts to increase the role of the military in security planning, the fact is that attitudinal and bureaucratic obstacles to a more balanced civil-military relationship in India remain formidable. The Indian military’s actions during the 1999 clashes near Kargil, India’s first widely televised war, led to a significant outpouring of support for the military amongst the public. However, civilian bureaucratic (and to a lesser extent political) attitudes that are less receptive to an enhanced role for the military remain entrenched.

 Other Key Actors/Influences in Indian National Security Policy-making

 While the act of security policy-making in India is limited to a relatively small number of institutions and officials, other influences do affect the context in which decisions are made. Essentially, these influences can be grouped into three broad categories: influences within the government, influences outside the government, and India’s democratic institutions. Influences within the government include special advisors and commissions appointed by the government to advise it (e.g., the National Security Advisory Board), but which have no formal institutional or policy role. Also, there are a range of government think tanks that provide inputs for policy consideration. Outside organizations that affect thinking and action on security policy include NGOs and non-government think tanks. Even more influential in conditioning the context of security policy, however, are India’s democratic institutions such as parliament, political parties, the media, and public opinion. These institutions can both constrain as well as help build consensus around the Indian government’s security policy.


 Indonesia’s security policy-making apparatus, particularly its civilian leadership, currently does not have the capability or willingness to adequately resolve the country’s primary security problem of internal instability.  While the President, the armed forces, and other institutions all have a role in formulating security policy, it is unclear which of these are most important in the policy-making process.  The Indonesian armed forces, despite their growing weakness, remain the primary institution for implementing domestic security measures.  The emergence of democracy in Indonesia has provided more opportunity for other institutions to influence security policy; however, these institutions currently do not have mechanisms in place that would allow them to participate in the policy-making process.   

 Internal Vs. External Security Issues in Indonesia

Indonesia’s leadership has always identified internal instability as the country's greatest security threat.  Indonesia--an inherently centrifugal country with a fragmented geography of more than 17,000 islands, over 300 ethnic and linguistic groups, and glaring imbalances in economic distribution—now confronts violence between ethnic, religious, and social groups all over the country.  The continual outbreak of clashes has been the most prominent aspect of domestic affairs for the past three years.  While clashes are spontaneous explosions of pent up tensions, observers are concerned that such domestic violence is contrived by powerful interests to destabilize the democratically elected government of President Abdurrahman Wahid.

 Indonesia's major internal security problems have involved separatist groups in three areas of the country: the former province of East Timor, Aceh, and Irian Jaya.  The rise in violence in Aceh and Irian Jaya has many root causes.  These include (1) historical opposition to outside rule; (2) the propensity of the army and police to treat all civilians as actual or potential guerrilla supporters; (3) a record of egregious human rights violations on the parts of both government forces and guerrillas; and (4) the diversion of local natural resources and wealth to the center.  

 Indonesia currently does not confront a significant external security threat; however, it may face worrisome external challenges over the long-term.  For example, a regional economic downturn would increase the value of potentially important undersea resources in the South China Sea, and in turn may increase the potential for clashes over rights to develop such resources.  Moreover, Indonesia has a large territorial claim around the Natuna Islands, which until recently was included in China's broad claims to virtually all of that important body of water.  

 Institutions of Indonesian National Security Policy-making

 Almost 2 years since the installation of President Wahid in 1999, questions remain as to how Indonesia’s security policy is determined and which individuals and agencies have become the primary actors in the process.  Although all of the formal institutions and informal players of the Soeharto era still exist, the most important player--an all-powerful autocratic president--is no longer around.  President Wahid appears to depend more on his cabinet for policy-making decisions, but he has also appeared hesitant and vacillating in the all-important problem of maintaining domestic security.  Thus, it is not clear how policy decisions are reached in Indonesia or that they are implemented as directed.  

 The most powerful security agency in the country - for planning as well as implementation - is the Indonesian armed forces (TNI).  TNI headquarters concentrates most planning within the office of the Assistant for Plans and Budget.  Security issues are addressed within the office of the Assistant for Intelligence and the Armed Forces Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS), the single most powerful internal security organization in the country. Both excel with extensive domestic intelligence and operations.

 Within the cabinet, the Department of Foreign Affairs has considerable staff working on issues of foreign policy but has only limited input on internal security matters.  The Department of Defense has a small foreign policy planning office headed by a two-star general or admiral, usually with considerable prior intelligence experience, with primary responsibilities for policy planning within the Department. 

 The Supreme Advisory Board is the senior non-cabinet agency involved in national-level policy issues, including security matters.  In the past its influence varied with the quality of its membership and the degree of access it and its recommendations had to Soeharto.  Under President Wahid the role of the Board has yet to be determined.              

Civil-Military Coordination in Indonesia

While many will look to emerging political leaders for new security policies and innovative solutions, the key to success lies with the country's armed forces and its ability --and willingness--to support significant reform while at the same time enforcing a reasonable degree of domestic security.    The TNI still remains the single most powerful segment of Indonesian society, but the effectiveness of the military and police in assuring law and order as well as domestic security is now in question.  Under attack for decades of abuses during Soeharto's autocratic rule, the police and army have seen their reputations sink to a low ebb in the population’s esteem.  The formerly powerful army, the single most important instrument for maintaining internal stability, has lost some of its political stature.  It is engulfed in internal policy turbulence and sub-rosa activities that may be contributing more to the problems rather than to the solutions. There is clearly a behind-the-scenes conflict among those seeking to assume some, or all, of the powers held by Soeharto.  

 The armed forces commander‑in‑chief, Admiral Widodo, appears determined to implement reforms although he is criticized by reformers for moving too slowly on some needed changes, and by opponents of reform ‑‑ many of them senior military officers ‑‑ for moving too quickly on others.  The military has already initiated some reforms; for example, the national police were separated from the armed forces establishment; the military kept its pledge to remain neutral in the election process; and military officers serving in civil government postings now must retire from the armed forces to keep their jobs.  Further, a navy officer is commander-in-chief of the armed forces; the first time in history an army officer has not held the post.  And two civilians have served as Minister of Defense for the first time in 40 years.  

 The TNI’s primary weaknesses in implementing security policy lie in the fields of maintenance and logistical support.  The police and armed forces are also hampered by a lack of training in, and a scarcity of equipment for, non‑lethal crowd and riot control.  While selected military and police units in some urban areas have received this kind of training and equipment, their number are not large enough to allow an effective reaction to violence that erupts, often spontaneously, for unforeseen causes.  

 The new government has prioritized its efforts to strengthen the Department of Defense at the expense of TNI.  These efforts include shifting some of BAIS’ security policy and operational activities to the Department of Defense, and some of BAIS’ domestic intelligence and security responsibilities to the nominally civilian National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.  Planning for these significant intelligence shifts are underway, but because of their great political ramifications, there is much opposition to the proposed changes.  

 Civilian leaders, including politicians and leaders of civil society, need to be endowed with the capability to oversee TNI’s policies, their implementation, and accountability.  This has yet to happen.  What has been proclaimed thus far as civilian control is still limited to the decision-making level and does not include the implementation of security policy. 

Other Key Actors/Influences in Indonesian National Security Policy-making

The new democratic era has brought prominence and increased power to Indonesia’s parliament, which now has authority to approve appointment of cabinet ministers, the chiefs of the armed forces and the military services, and the chief of police.   Further, political party leaders have frequently insisted on an active role in security policy matters, particularly those affecting internal security.  Yet neither parliament as an institution nor the many political parties have formed any structure for involvement in security policy.  Lastly, the newly independent media has become a major player in Indonesia’s policy-debate, but the media does not always act in a responsible manner.


 Japan’s view of its national security appears to be undergoing a sea-change.  In brief, the pacifist-isolationist consensus of the Cold War era is giving way to the view that Japan should become a more “normal country” with respect to the use of military force to promote its security interests.  

 Internal Vs. External Security Issues in Japan

 The principal driver of this change is the alteration of Japan’s external security environment.  From 1945 to the early 1990’s, few Japanese believed that their country faced a serious military threat or needed to concern itself with international “power politics.”  The Soviet Union was seen as a hypothetical threat since the American nuclear umbrella protected Japan.  Likewise, the global containment of Soviet expansionism by military means was left to the United States and its other allies.  Japanese were therefore able to indulge in a highly idealistic view of their place in the world.  Japan was defined as a unique “Peace State” dedicated to realizing the pacifist ideals of its 1947 constitution.  Air, sea and land forces were maintained, but these were deemed not to constitute a “military” in the conventional sense, and were limited to what was thought necessary to repel a direct attack on Japanese territory.  Declaring itself, in effect, a “conscientious objector,” Japan abstained from collective security arrangements and the use of force.  (Under its doctrine of “comprehensive security,” non-military, particularly economic, dimensions of national security were emphasized.)   

 Three external developments in the 1990’s undermined this view.  First, North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs convinced many Japanese that they did in fact face a serious military threat.  No event did more to crystallize this concern than North Korea’s lobbing of a ballistic missile over northern Japan in August 1998.  A second source of concern is China’s rising power and bellicosity.  Japanese expectations of a relatively benign China preoccupied with economic growth were shaken by Beijing’s use of “missile diplomacy” in the 1996 Taiwan Straits crisis; its assertive claims over the Spratly and Senkaku islands; its continued nuclear testing and military modernization; and its unwillingness to set aside the “burden of history” in Sino-Japanese relations.  Third, Japan’s complacency regarding American and international acceptance of its conscientious objector status was dealt a rude shock by the derisive reactions to its refusal to deploy its Self Defense Forces (SDF) in the 1990-91 Gulf Crisis.  The 1993-94 North Korean nuclear crisis brought home the possibility that the U.S.-Japan alliance might not survive a military conflict near Japan in which American forces were at risk while the SDF again sat on its hands.  Many Japanese concluded that they would have to do more to contribute to international and their own security.  This was understood to require SDF participation in UN peacekeeping operations and an expanded SDF role in support of American forces responding to contingencies near Japan.

 Internal security issues do not loom large in the Japanese perspective, since Japan is a remarkably orderly and homogenous society.  The main one perhaps is the presence in Japan of approximately 430,000 ethnic Koreas with North Korean sympathies.  Small left- and right-wing extremist groups have long been a feature of the Japanese scene, but they are of concern mainly to the police.  The religious cult responsible for the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack shocked many Japanese, not least because such bizarre and deadly attacks were assumed not to be possible in Japan.    

Institutions of Japanese National Security Policy-making

Control over Japan’s security policy is nominally in the hands of the Prime Minister and his cabinet, particularly the minister of foreign affairs and the Director General of the Japan Defense Agency (JDA).  The Prime Minister also presides over a Security Council, consisting of the ministers of finance and foreign affairs, the directors general of the JDA and Economic Planning Agency, and the Chief Cabinet Secretary.  These institutions do not, however, shed much light on how security policy is actually made, particularly in comparison to other advanced industrial democracies. 

 Several points may be made about Japanese policymaking in general.  First, prime ministers, although not powerless figureheads, are normally not strong leaders.  Their principal function is to articulate a consensus developed through often-protracted negotiations among a wide variety of political and bureaucratic players.  This was true during the 1955-93 era of unilateral Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) rule, and it has been even more true since the beginning of coalition governments in 1993.  Secondly, bureaucrats enjoy an unusual degree of autonomy and influence vis-à-vis elected officials.  Cabinet ministers, for example, usually defer to the views of their ministries, that is, the views of the professional bureaucrats who staff them.  Policymaking in general thus tends to be slow, consensual and heavily influenced by bureaucrats.  

 This general tendency is even more pronounced in the area of security policymaking, which is politically sensitive and marked by unusual legal constraints on the use of military force.  These constraints give the Cabinet Legal Affairs Bureau, the agency responsible for determining what policies are permissible under Japan’s “no-war” constitution, extraordinary influence.  Japan’s de-emphasis of the military dimension of national security is reflected in the institutional weakness of the JDA.  It is overshadowed by larger more prestigious ministries such as those of foreign affairs, finance, and international trade and industry, which also fill many of its key positions.  The JDA’s “weak sister” status is also reflected in the fact that its Director General is not a full-fledged cabinet minister, being merely a “minister of state” equivalent to, say, the Director General of the Economic Planning Agency.     

Civil-Military Coordination in Japan

 Since Japan technically lacks a “military,” it might be argued that civil-military relations do not exist.  This view is, of course, misleading.  The distinction between the SDF and an ordinary military is largely semantic.  Its 238,000 members are among the most highly trained and best equipped in Asia.  Furthermore, the JDA disposes of a defense budget exceeding 50 billion U.S. dollars, the third or fourth largest in the world.  However, semantics do reflect several realities about Japan’s armed forces.  First, although the SDF enjoys broad acceptance among Japanese, it enjoys little positive support.  Many are still uncomfortable with maintaining a “war-fighting” organization, especially one that until recently had no obvious raison d’etre.  Secondly, a thicket of legal and operational restrictions, which would be unthinkable for a “normal” military, hedges in the SDF.  Third, the SDF is deliberately restricted to a peripheral role in security policymaking.  Within the JDA, for example, civilian officials dominate uniformed personnel 

Other Key Actors/Influences in Japanese National Security Policy-making

 As in other advanced industrial democracies, the mass media and party politicians are probably the most influential shapers of security attitudes and policies outside the government.  Their roles have changed significantly in recent years.  Prior to 1990, they largely ignored defense issues, except to denounce real or alleged government attempts to violate the postwar pacifist consensus.  With the decline of old-school pacifism and the shift toward more “realistic” views of Japan’s security responsibilities, however, the media and politicians now pay more attention to security matters and have taken the lead in broadening and diversifying public debate on them.  Old-fashioned right-wing nationalists and left-wing pacifists remain players in this debate, but they are no longer the only voices nor the most important ones.   


 The Philippine security policy-making processes recognize the decline of military power and territorial expansion as primary instruments of statecraft.  Security policy is marked by a shift of reference from the state to the people and the increasing power of non-state actors in the security agenda.  New security concerns such as territorial integrity, ecological balance, socio-political stability, economic solidarity, cultural cohesiveness, moral-spiritual consensus, and external peace have taken the place of traditional military security issues.

Internal Vs. External Security Issues in the Philippines 

 Five primary internal and external security challenges to the Philippines were identified. The first and primary challenge remains poverty.  With 32% of the Philippines’ population of 70 million living below the poverty line, poverty was viewed as the greatest single threat to national security.  A second challenge is internal insurgency.  The Philippines suffers from two major internal insurgency problems: the Communist Party of the Philippines nationwide, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the southern Philippines.   A third challenge is environmental degradation.  Increasing population demands, growing at the rate of 2.67% a year, continue to threaten the country’s national resources as well as defying the government’s ability to keep pace.  Another challenge is in the Western Philippine Seas (South China Sea).  The resolution of conflicting claims in these seas is being pursued through peaceful means.  The fifth and final challenge is transnational crime.  The emerging threat of transnational crime has led to a number of cross-border security initiatives with Malaysia and Indonesia.

Institutions of Philippine National Security Policy-making

 A formal legal framework for Philippine national security management exists.  The Philippine National Security Council has formalized an Organization for National Security involving the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, consisting of three principal functions: (1) the formulation of national security policies; (2) the collection and dissemination of national intelligence; and (3) the collection and dissemination of departmental intelligence.

 The National Security Council (NSC) is the principal advisory body to the President, who is responsible for managing national security and for formulating national security policy.  The NSC, chaired by the President, is comprised of the fourteen members of the Cabinet, thirteen legislative officials, the two preceding Presidents, and other persons designated by the President.  A National Security Director General heads the NSC Secretariat, a permanent body which attends to daily administrative and technical requirements of the NSC.  The Director General advises the President on matters affecting national security whether or not the NSC is convened.

 The President also consults with various bodies.  One consultative body is the Cabinet and Cabinet Cluster E, a grouping of cabinet members mandated to serve as an advisory committee on security and defense.  Another national security body is the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).  Finally, the Council of State, established in 1987, helps the President obtain reliable information and competent advise on pressing issues and problems of national interest from all sectors of society.

 National intelligence is an inter-agency output produced from information obtained from various departments and agencies within the government. The second function prescribed in the Organization for National Security is the Collection and Dissemination of National Intelligence.   The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) is tasked to coordinate national intelligence activities and prepare national intelligence reports.

 Other sources of intelligence may come from various government-sponsored and non-government think tanks.  The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a government think tank, and the Strategic Studies Group (SSG) of the Institute provides up-to-date assessments of a variety of security concerns.  The Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (ISDS), a non-government think tank, prepares policy papers on a wide range of issues concerning security matters.

 Finally, the Organization for National Security prescribes collection and dissemination of Departmental information involving the Department of National Defense (DND), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Finance (DOF), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).  These Departments act at two levels: at the intelligence level by sharing information which is integrated into NICA products; and at the policy level by providing policy advice, and implementing national policy.

Civil-Military Coordination in the Philippines

 The governing principle in civil-military coordination in national security policy-making is civilian supremacy over the military.  Civilian political leadership makes policy decisions.  The military defines the operational and tactical components necessary to implement these policy decisions.  Military input into policy formulation process comes in the form of advice to the President and Cabinet Cluster E when called upon, and by supplying intelligence information obtained through Department of National Defense and military channels.

Other Key Actors/Influences in Philippine National Security Policy-making 

 Other actors participating in security policy-making outside the formal, legal structure include personal friends of the President, and non-government institutions depending on the issue.  Public opinion and popular support also has, at times, greatly influenced security policy and action.

 The case of East Timor was cited as an example of the Philippines’ security policy-making process during a crisis situation.  The Philippine decision to participate in the Multinational Force in East Timor (INTERFET), which was established by Security Council resolution 1272 (1999), was initiated by a call from the United Nations to aid a member state, in this case, Indonesia.  There was little time to convene any of the formally constituted bodies outlined in the Organization for National Security.  Although none of the plans or processes were formally followed, the President consulted heavily with the bodies outlined in the Organization for National Security.  Elements of the formal and informal processes were used in reaching the decision.

 Some improvements in the Philippines’ policy-making process may be needed, primarily in the integration and coordination of departmental intelligence information, and in the consultation processes with civil society on national security matters.  Overall, however, the Philippines’ policy-making processes are fairly institutionalized, with sufficient checks and balances that minimize the negative impact extra-legal elements may have on the process.


 Singapore is noted for its economic success and its efficient administration.  These traits are reflected in the country’s security policy-making framework.  Its wealth and technological prowess allows Singapore to maintain a large military equipped with many modern systems.  The centralization of important national decisions reduces the potential for debate and bargaining between the top leadership and other actors in the government and in society.

Internal Vs. External Security Issues in Singapore

 Internal and external security are linked in the government’s outlook, which is often described as a “siege mentality”: Singapore is strategically and economically vulnerable because it is small, lacks natural resources (it even depends on imported food and water supplies), occupies a desirable location (at the gateway to the Strait of Malacca), and is mostly populated by rich Chinese, for whom there is considerable resentment in the sub-region; to survive, Singaporeans must be unusually patriotic, efficient, diligent and supportive of government policies.

 Domestic and international security issues are intertwined, as are regime security and state/national security.  Singapore’s government is “paternalistic”: the government pledges its officials will be competent, honest, and dedicated to serving the public well, and in return it demands a high degree of trust and assent from society.  The distinction between loyal opposition and sedition is often unclear.  If Singapore’s survival depends on economic success, and the policies of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) have thus far delivered this success, then dissent in general is in some sense treasonous.

 A particular issue that points up this problem is Chinese chauvinism.  After Singapore gained independence, its ethnic Chinese community saw a power struggle between factions representing the English-language educated (led by Cambridge graduate Lee Kuan Yew) and the Chinese-language educated (who tended to be pro-communist in sympathy with the PRC).  The former won out, and many Chinese-educated Singaporeans have felt politically and economically disadvantaged ever since.  Political activists complaining publicly about the relative lack of opportunity for the Chinese-educated have been prosecuted by the state, which maintains that such statements are tantamount to fanning sentiments that might offend suspicious neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia and thus endanger Singapore’s national security.

 Scarcely more than a Malay fishing village until its development under British administration, Singapore is composed almost completely of the descendants of nineteenth-century immigrants.  It is ethnically heterogeneous, with Chinese making up about 76 percent of the population, Malays 15 percent and Indians 7 percent.  The leadership therefore strongly emphasizes the need to cultivate a sense of Singaporean nationhood as an internal means of strengthening national security.  The government continually stresses the theme of a common Singaporean identity in its dealings with the public, although it must balance this message with support for the ethnic communities maintaining their knowledge of ethnic culture and languages, which in turn maintains Singapore’s opportunities for trade and investment in Asia.  Compulsory military service (two years of active duty military service for all young men, plus reserve duty through age 40) is the single most important vehicle for inculcating a sense of Singaporean nationalism, as it is not only a forum for indoctrination, but also forces Singaporean men of different ethnic and economic backgrounds to live and work closely together. 

Institutions of Singaporean National Security Policy-making

 Security policy, like domestic policy, is made by a small group of elites (members of the Singapore cabinet) dominated by the former Prime Minister and current Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, with counsel from President S. R. Nathan, who has a strong background in international affairs.  Lee was Singapore’s most prominent political figure from the time of Singapore’s separation from Malaysia through its surprising economic success in the three decades that followed.  Even after ostensibly relinquishing power to the “second generation” of leadership and his successor as Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, Lee remains Singapore’s most influential leader.  The real generational change in national leadership will not take place until after Lee’s death (and even then, Lee has publicly warned that after he dies, he will return from the grave if he disapproves of how future leaders are running the country).

 Other important institutions in the making and execution of security policy are the Singapore Armed Forces, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Internal Security Department, the Singapore Civil Defense Force, and the Economic Development Board.  Mention of the latter three reflects the confluence of internal and external threats in the worldview of the leadership, epitomized by the government’s doctrine of “Total Defence” (comprised of the five elements of Psychological Defence, Social Defence, Economic Defence, Civil Defence and Military Defence).  These institutions may have important advisory roles, but because of the concentration of power in the top level of the PAP, none could be called a rival to the cabinet as a security policy player.

Civil-Military Coordination in Singapore

 On the surface, civilian control over the military is clearly established in Singapore’s institutional structure.  In subtle ways, however, civilian society is largely militarized.  A large proportion of the high-ranking civilian leadership have military backgrounds (Goh’s expected successor as prime minister, for example, Lee Kuan Yew’s son Lee Hsien Loong, is a retired brigadier general).

 Furthermore, since the 1980s, the government has sponsored a dual-career-track program that assists mid-career military officers in finding desirable civilian jobs, often in management positions.  Thus the managers and directors of most civilian enterprises in Singapore are former military officers of medium rank or higher.  This has created, perhaps intentionally, a potential alternative national administrative structure that could run the country in a time of crisis.  Less favorable possible consequences are (1) a loss of problem-solving creativity through the predominance of a single mindset; and (2) restricted opportunities for women and minorities.  Malays have been underrepresented in high ranks in the armed forces, which continues to be a sensitive domestic issue.  Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong provoked an outcry when he said publicly Singapore could not have Malays serving as high-ranking officers or fighter pilots because of the possibility that their ethnicity would compromise their patriotism in the event of a conflict with Malaysia or Indonesia.   

Other Key Actors/Influences in Singaporean National Security Policy-making

 Birthrates are falling among the ethnic Chinese majority, a typical consequence of affluence.  A generation ago the government, fearing overpopulation, used tax disincentives and a media campaign discourage large families.  As Lee has said, “We succeeded too well,” and in recent years the government has reversed itself, encouraging parents to have three or four children.  The SAF faces a shortage of manpower in the near term and perhaps beyond, depending on the public’s response to the “have more children” campaign. 

 The state exercises strong influence over the media, which generally fulfills the role of informing the public of government policy rather than critiquing or challenging it.  The impact of public opinion on security policy is mostly passive.  The government has taken steps to smooth discontent over compulsory military service for Singaporean men.  The public accepts the basic tenets of national security policy.  Singapore’s two principal foreign affairs research institutions are government-funded and have a mostly cooperative relationship with the state, offering assessment for consideration by policy-makers.

South Korea

 Since the peaceful transition of power from the military-dominated government of Roh Tae-woo to the popularly elected civil government of Kim Yong-sam, many of the Republic of Korea’s (Korea) core institutions have been rapidly changing.  Likewise, security institutions and policy-making processes are rapidly maturing and moving towards greater institutionalization.  The pace of these reforms has quickened during the first few years of Kim Dae-jung’s presidency.

 In addition, the environment within which the security apparatus functions is also rapidly changing in three key areas: perception of threat, public demand for transparency, and importance of U.S. troop presence.  In this regard Koreans are not diverting attention from traditional challenges.  However, how they pursue security is most certainly changing both in concept and structure.  Understanding the nature of this change is critical to future U.S. security arrangements with Korea.     

Internal Vs. External Security Issues in South Korea

 For much of Korea’s fifty-plus years of existence, its rulers have been faced with both potentially debilitating external and internal threats to security.  These challenges were approached with a Confucian mindset that defined security as freedom from threat to the borders and domestic tranquility.  Until recently an elusive combination, Koreans today enjoy domestic stability as a result of democratization and a real yet diminished sense of threat only from the North.  

 This condition allows Korea to focus on its future regional role and indeed for at least the last five years Korean security policy has been directed towards the nation’s place in Northeast Asia rather than its capability versus the North.  This trend will continue as long as the North makes even the most modest of attempts towards normalization of relations.

Institutions of South Korean National Security Policy-making

 With the advent of the Kim Dae-Jung administration, the role and functions of the National Security Council (NSC), until now more an ad hoc consultative group, have been considerably reinforced and formalized.  Members include the President, Prime Minister, Director of the National Intelligence Agency, and the Ministers of Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and National Defense.  Within the NSC a permanently operating Secretary General’s Office has staff function for crisis management, policy coordination and policy planning.  The permanent NSC meets weekly and is reinforced by vice-minister-level action level coordinating and situation assessment conferences.

 The net effect of this transition has been the expression of a more institutionalized approach to security policy involving a staff process and development.  While the personalities of key leaders in the security arena still strongly influence the process, the implementation of the current procedures ensures a more studied and consistent, even if slower, approach.

 To enhance the security policy process, two key changes are necessary.  First, the NSC must be given an even greater role in advising the President and formulating security policy.  An important start would be an increase in the number of support personnel assigned to the NSC including area and functional experts.  This would support greater institutionalization and concomitant influence of the council.

 A second critical change is the comprehensive integration of unification, defense and economic policy.  While before internal security was important to overall security, in Korea’s growing democracy economics is a more critical facilitator.  Only be integrating fiscal policy and national economic strength with unification and defense policies can Korea maximize its limited resources while realizing its objectives.  Towards this end, the President should form overlapping conferences that integrate these separate yet dependent aspects of security.     

 As Korea reaches its form of full democratization and the North shows an inclination towards improved relations with the South, the Republic of Korea’s security environment is rapidly changing.  To cope with these trends, Korea’s security apparatus and process must move more rapidly towards institutionalization, ending more than fifty years of autocratic policy making.     

The NSC’s influence must to be significantly reinforced, allowing it to have coordinated and controlled authority over security related areas across ministries so it may integrate issues covering security, unification, and economy.  Additionally, the government must enhance public support by maximizing coordination with the National Assembly, interest groups, and the mass media.

 As the ROK-US combined readiness posture becomes more solid and economic and cultural exchanges between the two Koreas increase, democratic ideals such as liberty and freedom and capitalist values from the free market economic system will gradually permeate North Korean society.  This will eventually lead to reduced tension on the Korean peninsula and ensure regional security.  In this light, integration of defense, unification and economic policy is essential.  

Civil-Military Coordination in South Korea

In the past, security and defense policy issues were largely kept from the public’s view.  While most citizens were aware of the government’s view of the threat, little else was divulged by a system that placed a high premium on internal security and secrecy.  With the conviction of former presidents and coup-leaders Chun and Roh, popular support has become critical to the success of the current president’s security policy.  In short, the people of Korea demand a degree of transparency in security policy and are in effect an increasingly integral part of the process.

Other Key Actors/Influences in South Korean National Security Policy-making

 Four groups significantly influence security policy:  1) Defense Committee of the National Assembly, 2) special interest groups, 3) research institutes, and 4) mass media (particularly Internet commentators).  The first three directly act on decision makers and the fourth helps shape public opinion.  The Defense Committee requires the Ministry of National Defense to periodically brief it on current and future security issues.  Based on these briefs, the committee recommends budget outlays for defense.  By holding the purse strings the Committee ensures that security policy stays under civilian control.

A second powerful influence is special interest groups.  These have the ability, depending on the cause, to rapidly focus national public opinion, bringing strong pressure to bear on policy advisors and decision makers.  Because the past process was highly autocratic, these groups were never heard.  With the emergence of a more democratic society, these new groups have impact across the full spectrum of security issues.  Examples of this influence include the pressured renegotiation of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and investigation of the Nogun-ri incident. 

 A third influential group is composed of security research institutes.  These institutes are usually future-oriented and make a substantial contribution to the security policymaking process.  They commonly do this by conducting detailed analysis and critique of emerging policy.  While these positions are assessed they are also publicized and adjusted to a more viable form that can be implemented.  An example of this is the way the government used think tanks to expand public support for the cooperative reconstruction of the Kyung-yui Railroad.

 A final – and growing – influence is rapid dissemination of security-related information via the mass media and in particular on the Internet.  The Internet is being used effectively by all the groups mentioned above but also by the government to disseminate policy and gain comments.  In this way security planners and policy makers have increasingly gained the needed public support to sustain increasingly expensive defense programs.  While the military was previously a very secretive organization, it is now making every effort to periodically present security policy to consultative bodies and also provides daily briefings to the media in an effort to sustain public support.    

The most important change in Korea’s security environment is the inevitable reform of North Korea.  To support this and potential North-South reconciliation, South Korea must take a stance that encourages and facilitates change in the North while not sacrificing its security.  Within this milieu, another concern is the future of US troop stationing in Korea.  Most Koreans believe that US forces must eventually leave the Peninsula.  However, given that the North has not made any concessions to its current troop displacements, it is likely that Korean defense planners will desire US presence at least for the near term.

Finally, public opinion will play a critical role in security policy making.  However, the government will, and must, continue to lead security policy formulation shaped by the factors mentioned above.  As Korea’s role in the region grows, a salient part of its security policy will be to strengthen vigorous and open cooperative relationship with the U.S., Japan, China, and Russia.


 Taiwan is witnessing dramatic change in its domestic political and social sphere, which is influencing national security policy.  Most recently, the island witnessed its first peaceful transfer of power between two political parties.  Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) defeated two other candidates, one from the dominant Kuomintang (KMT) and another from the New Party.   Currently, however, the KMT is attempting to undermine President Chen’s influence, especially in the legislature.  Many observers believe that the KMT could make significant political gains in the 2002 legislative election.  If this occurs, President Chen’s power—and overall legitimacy—could be severely undermined.

Internal Vs. External Security Issues in Taiwan

 Taiwan’s security concerns are almost entirely dominated by perceptions and fears regarding the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  Taiwan does not suffer from significant destabilizing internal security challenges.   However, it does perceive its security as directly threatened by military modernization in the PRC.  Following the 1996 missile crisis, these fears were accentuated.   No longer was the threat of military invasion from the PRC merely a theoretical concern.   Taiwan has responded by focusing on its own military modernization.  As part of this process, it is looking toward the United States to acquire key weapons systems.

 Taiwan faces pressure from Beijing in two broad areas: (1) first, Taiwan is under pressure to continue the “One China” policy, which had been the linchpin of Taiwan-PRC relations for over five decades.  The “One China” policy provided reassurance to both sides that, no matter how contentious disagreements might become between Taipei and Beijing, there would be no question that Taiwan would attempt to separate itself from the mainland.   Taiwan’s adherence to this policy began to erode during the last years of Lee Teng-Hui’s administration.  When President Chen assumed office in 2000, he further indicated that the “One-China” policy would need to be re-examined.  This has provoked extreme anger in Beijing, which has refused to engage in talks with Taiwanese officials.

On another front, Taiwan faces growing pressure from Beijing to open cross-straits linkages with mainland China.   This would include open shipping, tourism, trade, and communications links.  In theory, both sides would benefit economically and culturally, but Taiwan security agencies understand that Beijing often “fronts” its intelligence operations under the guise of businesses or non-profit organizations.  Mainland journalists, for instance, often work for PRC intelligence agencies.  From a practical perspective, this makes cross-straits exchanges difficult.  Taiwan does not yet feel confident enough about its own security to fully engage in cross-straits relations with the PRC.

Institutions of Taiwan’s National Security Policy-making

 With the political transition to Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan does not have a clear security policy-making infrastructure currently in place.  In the past, the KMT relied on a number of think tanks and academic institutions that were strongly affiliated with the KMT for policy guidance or study.  Chen does not have the same access to these institutions.  Similarly, Chen does not yet have the trust of government security agencies or institutions, many of which continue to be governed by KMT-followers.  For instance, the role of the Investigation Branch (IB) and the National Security Bureau (NSB) has become muddled since many officials were KMT members prior to their appointment. 

 Many KMT civil servants are “biding their time” in anticipation of Chen’s defeat in 2004.   The KMT has even begun its own initiative with its counterparts in the PRC to discuss the “One China” policy and prospects for reunification.  It is not yet clear how President Chen is likely to react to such semi-governmental contacts. 

Civil-Military Coordination in Taiwan

 Questions are being raised about the prospect for political loyalty by Taiwan’s military to the new regime of Chen Shui-bian and his DPP colleagues.  Some members of the armed forces, who supported James Soong, are retiring early in silent protest, thus exposing Taiwan to some military risk.  Others are unhappy with political positions embedded within the Democratic Progressive Party’s platform, including a demand for Taiwanese independence (even though such positions have been modified by President Chen since he assumed office).

Other Key Actors/Influences in Taiwan’s National Security Policy-making

 Taiwan’s leaders now face a robust democratic system and must be answerable to the public for each of their policy decisions.   Moreover, the media is emerging as an increasingly powerful and independent force that demands accountability in government decisions.  Moreover, Taiwan has a vibrant civil society—including a powerful industrial sector—that demands effective governance.

 Because of the rising importance of the populace in determining security policy—via its democratic power—the issue of generational change is become a critical issue.  Taiwan’s younger generations, whether they are of native Taiwanese or mainland origin, are increasingly focused on Taiwan itself and not mainland China.  Whereas once they might have considered themselves “Chinese”, Taiwanese residents increasingly refer to themselves as “Taiwanese” exclusively.  This was especially apparent after the 1996 missile tests by the PRC.  Such a trend also reflects growing Taiwanese nationalism.  


 American political institutions are mature and civilian supremacy over the armed forces well established, but security policy-making often does not follow a particular pattern because the number of potentially influential actors is large and varied.  America’s global commitments and unmatched military capabilities give it an immense external security agenda, while perceived internal security issues are relatively few.

Internal Vs. External Security Issues in the U.S.

 The United State’s only significant internal security threat is terrorism.  Even in the case of terrorism, the threat is relatively new and underestimated.  Planning countermeasures makes little impact on overall security policy, which focuses on external threats.  Externally, as well, threats are presently minimal.  The only direct hypothetical external threat to the U.S. homeland other than a terrorist attack is posed by long-range ballistic missiles.  U.S. interest in a ballistic missile defense system demonstrates that Americans aspire to attain perfect security, something few other countries would even dream is possible.     

Institutions of U.S. National Security Policy-making

 The foreign policy-making process is growing more complex, with members of Congress increasingly interested in foreign affairs for various reasons that mostly involve pleasing their local constituencies.  Typically, an important foreign policy decision now involves the executive branch, the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, the House of Representatives’ Committee on International Relations, and a variety of non-governmental actors.  Furthermore, private organizations and local governments also establish and maintain their own relationships with foreign countries.  Foreign policy-making is more democratic in the sense that more actors have input and the top layer of leadership is not as free to dictate policy autocratically.  It also means, however, that the determination and execution of foreign policy is less efficient and consistent.  Members of Congress, for example, are often correctly criticized for promoting foreign policy positions on which they are not well informed or which seem to offer short-term parochial benefits but work against long-term national strategic interests. 

Beyond this, the policy-making process cannot be generalized.  Each policy decision follows a different path depending on the issue, which in turn determines which potential actors will seek to get involved.  Past experience has produced several storylines, including the following: (1) the president bypasses the governmental structure and appeals directly to the public to get what he wants; (2) other actors force the president to take an action he opposes; and (3) a relatively minor actor pushes through his/her agenda by getting the attention of certain influential people.

 The public is potentially a critically important player in policy-making, with the power to force officials to take action in an area that captures the public’s interest.  In general, however, the U.S. public is chronically apathetic about foreign affairs, even if most Americans believe it is important for the country to maintain an active role in international leadership.  Disinterest in foreign policy by the mass public tends to give disproportionate influence in policy-making to small groups that are intensely interested in a certain issue.  This is because politicians positioning themselves for re-election are less concerned with how many people care about an issue than they are about how much people care.

 In sum, it is a system of “high friction,” in Stephen Wrage’s words, in which reaching final policy decisions is difficult because of the many opportunities for one or more actors to slow or block the process.  The new Bush Administration will likely find the friction inherent in the system near its maximum, as his opponents in Congress take advantage of his lack of a strong electoral mandate to challenge his foreign policy initiatives as part of an overall effort to undermine his support.

Civil-Military Coordination in the U.S.

 Historically, the United States has been highly successful in instituting civilian control of the military and fostering an apolitical professionalism among the officer corps.  In recent years, however, the U.S. government has shown an interest in consigning to other actors some duties traditionally handled by civil authorities.  As part of this movement, the government is tasking the military with new roles such as interdiction of drug trafficking and patrolling the U.S. border with Mexico to combat illegal immigration.  Civilian leaders are quick to turn to the military for solutions because the post-Gulf War military’s prestige is high while in contrast much of the civilian government seems prone to gridlock.

 This may blur the traditional distinction between civilian and military roles, with the risk that the military might eventually overshadow the civilian leadership, an unhealthy development for America’s democracy.  On the one hand, it may indicate support for the historical model of societies following a pendulum swing between democracy and dictatorship—i.e., Americans have become dissatisfied with democracy and now crave the greater efficiency of authoritarian rule, of which the desire for greater involvement by the military in running the country is a manifestation.  On the other hand, in view of the fact that important institutions such as the Departments of Defense and State have an intermingling of leaders with civilian and military backgrounds, the distinction between soldiers and diplomats may be eroding, the divergence of military and civilian culture exaggerated, and the risk to democracy minimal. 

 A long period of absence of major war has contributed to a decline in the proportion of high-level civilian leaders with combat experience.  The country is gradually losing the advantage of a civilian leadership with a thorough understanding of the implications of ordering American forces into battle.  In theory, this makes a jingoistic foreign policy more likely.

Other Key Actors/Influences in U.S. National Security Policy-making

 The media has an important role in security policy, but it is best understood as a potentially powerful tool rather than a potentially powerful actor.  Despite the media’s self-image as a “watchdog” over officialdom, the news is subject to being managed by savvy politicians.  In general the media’s relationship with power is symbiotic: newsmen cooperate with officials in order to gain access to the information officials control.  In addition to the media, a plethora of research institutions, both public and private, generate analysis upon which policy-makers can draw.


 Throughout the conference, a few themes emerged.  One theme is that concepts of security are changing and security policy-making is becoming more complex.  Another theme is that more actors, both internally—democratic institutions, popular opinion, insurrection movements—and externally—NGOs, regional organizations, international media—complicate formulating and undertaking security policies. A third theme is that security policy-making institutions are being revamped to handle the increased load and to integrate the new elements of security into the overall security apparatus.

 Several common “internal” or “domestic” factors driving security policy are visible across the region:

In this context, four broad ideas emerged regarding security institutions and policy-making.  First, internal vs. external security issues highlighted the region-wide emphasis on comprehensive security, although many concerns are still categorized as primarily internal or external.  Second, institution building is occurring throughout the region.  This seems to be driven, at least partly, by the growing complexity of security policy-making.  Third, civil and military cooperation was also a consistent issue in the Asia-Pacific region.  Civil societies appear to be increasingly powerful and diverse.  Fourth and finally, other actors and influences can be very influential in making security policy.  The media appears to be both a powerful tool and an irreplaceable watchdog for governmental policy-making.  The manner in which the Asia-Pacific countries manage these trends in security policy-making will determine whether the Asia-Pacific remains a region of progress and prosperity or a new source of conflict and chaos.  



Colonel Steve Ball
Georgetown University

Dr. James A. Boutilier
Maritime Forces Pacific Headquarters, Canada

Mr. Lyle Brecken
Center for Naval Analyses

 Dr. Clarita Carlos
National Defense College of the Philippines

 Colonel Chung Kyung Yung
Republic of Korea Army

 Col. Terry Cook
Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies

 Dr. Elizabeth Van Wie Davis
Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies

BrigGen. Karl W. Eikenberry
United States Army

 Col. (ret.) John Haseman 
Former U.S. Defense Attaché

General (ret.) K.K. Hazari
Committee on Defense Expenditure, India

Dr. Linda Jakobson
Finnish Institute of International Affairs

Mr. Mel Labrador

Dr Stephanie Lawson 
University of East Anglia, UK

Dr. Satu P. Limaye
Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies

LTC Kevin Madden
Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies


Ms. Judith McCloskey
Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies

This report was edited by Dr. Elizabeth Van Wie Davis, Professor, of  the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.  For more information, please contact her at 808-564-5006 .


The Asia-Pacific Center (APC) is a regional study, conference and research center funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. The Center’s mission is to foster understanding, cooperation, and study of security-related issues among civilian and military representatives of the United States and other Asia-Pacific nations. The Center provides a focal point where national officials, decision makers, and policy experts can gather to exchange ideas, explore pressing issues and achieve a greater understanding of the challenges that that shape the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region. APC occasionally publishes articles on Asia policy issues written by APC research, staff, and fellows. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Asia-Pacific Center, the Department of Defense, or the United States government.