Ramos Calls On Guam, CNMI To Join 'ANEAN': An Association Of North East Asian Nations
Former Philippine President's Vision For This Rising Regional Power Bloc Unlocks Tremendous Opporunities For Self Discovery On Guam
Written by Jeff Marchesseault, Guam News Factor Staff Writer
Monday, 23 November 2009 08:32
GUAM - Imagine Guam and the Northern Marianas as American players in a regional alliance that includes the Philippines, Okinawa, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Hainan, and the mainland China provinces of Guangdong and Fujian.
The object of the vision: optimizing trade and transnational governance. Former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos spelled it out in a Sunday opinion published by the Manila Bulletin.
Ramos argues that, "There are synergistic, advantageous combinations in the emerging Central East Asia Growth Polygon (CEAGPOL)...CEAGPOL could be the forerunner -- and building block -- of Northeast Asia's version of ASEAN or 'ANEAN,' meaning the 'Association of Northeast Asian Nations.' Economic heavyweight North East Asia is the world's last remaining regional bloc still without an inter-governmental organization of the likes of ASEAN and the EU."
(*ASEAN = Association of Southeast Asian Nations. *EU = European Union)
Guam: America's 'Linchpin To Dominance'
Ramos also tells how and why Guam is such an important American force in Asia's Northeast. His rhetoric hints that it is the United States' undivided sense of purpose and its use of interdependent relationships advancing mutual interests that makes America and Guam such a force to be reckoned with in Northeast Asia. Not only is Guam a Territory of the U.S. from which defensive power is projected and with which foreign nations actively do business, but the U.S. Departments of Defense and State have grown increasingly adept at building regional alliances that tie desired outcomes to cooperation. Here's an example. If there's a disaster in the Far East, armed forces based on Guam are quick to respond and help while respecting local chains of command.
Overall, the purpose of America's friendships and alliances in Pacific Asia is to provide security for U.S. interests -- be it trade, investment, travel, intelligence, idea sharing, or defense. And the beautiful thing is that our allies share our interests. So they have a reason to assign substantial human, capital and industrial resources towards sustaining a relationship with a nation that President Obama calls the "guardian of freedom."
Here's how Ramos sees Guam fitting into his visionary Northeast Asian alliance:
Guam: Geopolitical scenario a century later. Our close neighbor Guam is a strategic outpost developed by American leaders and strategists since the 1890s. Guam's overall value to American deployments towards Asia and Middle East has tremendously increased. Not only has the island become a strategic US Pacific base. Washington is now making Guam the linchpin of its overall design to insure dominance in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
Guam is extremely critical to American quick response to any sizable natural disaster, civilian emergency or military crisis, given that the US continues to be the "guardian of freedom" (according to President Barack Obama).
Firm leadership to plug holes of a leaky Philippines. If Guam is America's "unsinkable aircraft carrier," why do many observers see the Philippines – with all our land-sea-air resources and human assets – as a fragile ship about to go under? It's because ours is a leaky vessel, with no clear direction due to divided leadership.
The vision of a better future from which nations and peoples can benefit equitably – regardless of political ideology, religious faith, cultural background, socio-economic condition, and ethnic origin – is the unceasing, ultimate aspiration of all.
This universal hope should provide strategic guidance to the decisions/policies of today's leaders and their successors.
We must organize a caring and sharing international community – for it to become a family of truly principled nations daring enough to take concerted action against threats to humankind's survival. Today's complex world must be managed through efficient transnational governance.
An Opportunity For Participation
Former President Ramos' vision of an Association of Northeast Asian Nations is a remarkable, outside-the-box solution to the problems that inevitably surface every day in the realms of trade and transnational governance -- and would deal with those problems in the context in which they fester, instead of within the traditional formal strictures of sovereign-to-sovereign diplomacy.
Ostensibly, ANEAN would pair representative parts of giant nations on the one hand with smaller nations on the other to explore and dialogue about issues that directly affect all ANEAN members, then recommend and forge regional policies that solve problems on the Northeast Asia level, right where the action is.
Any questions about the ministerial authority of representative provinces or territories of bigger nations could be settled domestically and these provinces and territories could even opt to participate in ANEAN at the working group or observer level if necessary.
Perhaps the more important takeaway from Mr. Ramos' vision is that he (1) opens a portal to thinking creatively and productively about the future of the region and (2) that he helps us all to remember and realize that destinations across Northeast Asia don't exist all by their lonesomes in tight little silos -- nor do their problems always mirror the problems at the epicenter of world power. Nevertheless, the existence of one Northeast Asian destination affects the existence of the others. It is up to each nation, government and municipality within this region to decide whether it will maximize opportunities for mutual enrichment on every level.