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Democratic Instability: Democratic Consolidation, National Identity, and Security Dynamics in East Asia

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  • An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Chicago, Illinois, March 1–4, 2007. For their helpful comments on the paper, I am grateful to Seo-Hyun Park, participants in the ISA panel, and the anonymous reviewers for Foreign Policy Analysis.

Abstract

Cho, Il Hyun. (2011) Democratic Instability: Democratic Consolidation, National Identity, and Security Dynamics in East Asia. Foreign Policy Analysis, doi: 10.1111/j.1743-8594.2011.00154.x

During his tenure, President George W. Bush touted the East Asian democratic experience as a positive model for democratization in the Middle East. Contrary to the premise of democracy leading to regional stability, however, East Asian democracies in the past decade have often become a source of regional instability. Based on a comparative analysis of political developments in Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, this paper explores the foreign policy behavior of East Asian democracies and assesses the overall impact on regional security dynamics. Specifically, I argue that incomplete democratic consolidation, combined with the political salience of national identity, sparked a process of acute intergroup competition among domestic political actors. As a result, the foreign policy orientation of the three East Asian democracies became belligerent, thereby unnecessarily increasing regional tensions.

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