Skip to main content

Greater reasons for Asia to unite than Europe, 'overcome' costly hostilities, political egos

By Dr S Faizi* 

Europe, once a theatre of internecine wars, now has a robust European Union shaping the common destiny of its people. Although Europe is only a subcontinent of Asia as Arnold Toynbee had observed and as is visible to anyone looking at a map, we still not have a common Asian platform for economic and political cooperation. 
It is high time Asia had its well mandated regional organisation to secure a common Asian future, ending the costly hostilities and political egos. We can have the Asian Union even when the bilateral hostilities, unique to Asia, refuse to go away completely.
Asia is the only continent where there are live hostilities today: India-Pakistan and South-North Koreas; the conflicts in a few West Asia countries are, however, not openly bilateral. The China-Japan rift is more emotional than anything and could be more readily surmounted through sensible diplomatic endeavors.
The congenital rivalry within the two sets of twin sisters -- India-Pakistan and South-North Koreas -- may take more time to resolve, but would definitely be resolved in mutual interest once the common gains are in view and a once matured, forward looking political leadership is there to steer the respective countries. A pan Asian Union would make peace and economic progress in the region real.
Look at the history of Europe. Countries have been forming and re-forming there for the greater part of its history. Violence was a daily reality in most of the prosperous countries of today. Factional disputes within its imported religion of Christianity -- an Asian religion -- was good enough for countries of Europe to go to war for a good part of its latter history. And to engender violence within its societies too.
Internal conflicts and violence within the European boarders drastically reduced with the launch of imperialist onslaughts. They shifted the theatres of war and violence to the rest of the world, turning most of Asia into its victim. Europe changed this rule only with the first and second pan European wars, wrongly called world wars, and the second big war devastated the warring imperial countries militarily and economically, to our good fortune, resulting in their departure from the countries they had occupied.
If the countries of Europe whose history is rightly be termed savage, could shed their hostility, end wars and eventually give up a large part of their respective national sovereignty to create the powerful EU, can't the countries of Asia unite in our common interest. Incidentally, it is worth noting that the EU was created in 1993, marking five hundred years of Colombus’ invasion of what was later called America and the subsequent occupation of the continent. The treaty signing was not held in 1992, the exact year of five centuries, to provide time for the political leaders and diplomats to engage in the Earth Summit process of that year.
There are greater reasons for Asia to unite than Europe had. To overcome the entrenched poverty, to build our economies based on our vast resources, to realise the potential of the immense human talent available, to protect the natural environment and more importantly to keep Asia peaceful and free of external interference.
A collective Asian position on economic issues in the negotiations with the West can end the skewed trade relations and mark an end to the post colonial exploitation. Asia is home to the ancient civilisations of the Arabs, India, China and Persia; it produced all the religions practiced on earth as well as the atheist Confucianism. The West has nothing even remotely comparable to the tremendous cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity of Asia.
Collective Asian position on economic issues in negotiations with West can end skewed trade relations, mark end to post-colonial exploitation
It has not colonized countries -- with the aberration of Japan -- but has been victim of all the predatory imperialists of Europe and suffered massive theft of its resources. Asia has survived the imperial onslaught, bounced back and chartered its development course that is already yielding remarkable results. And it is time to take it forward by forging political and economic alliance across the region.
Asia already has two good precedents to build upon. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the east and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the west. Both these bodies are fairly concrete groupings and have yielded valuable lessons to their respective members in regional collectivity.
The acronyms ASEAN and GCC appear on the daily conversations of the peoples of the respective regions. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) had a modest start and continues to remain weak. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is emerging as a strong regional body with its expanded membership that includes Russia, and deepening its agenda progressively. All these experiences can be creatively applied to establish a pan Asian body of 48 countries for political and economic cooperation.
One reason why Africa has no wars or self-defeating hostility between countries is, in great measure, the influence of the African Union. When Asia attains that level of maturity the world shall be a better place. The threat of NATO in the region can be avoided and the incongruous QUAD can be done away with. Countries can trade among them in a number of currencies of the region and people can travel without visas.
Our democracies are at different stages of development; however, nearly all are on the trajectory towards maturity. India where its democracy is facing a crisis too shall return to normalcy sooner than later. The Asian Union can accelerate the process of deepening democracy across the region as the economic and social dividends of democracy would then become more obvious.
Japan may not be initially enthusiastic about the Asian Union due to its dependence on the US on foreign policy, but once convinced that the US is actually a dispensable burden and that the Chinese threat is largely imaginary they would want to join too. The statute of the new union could be designed in a way that the reach of its mandate and the coverage of subjects could be incremental, and allowing room for accommodating the differences across countries.
Europe’s experience vividly tells us that the neighboring country’s progress and one’s own is inextricably linked, which should be a compelling reason to shed hostility and envy towards the neighbours. The government leaders, given to conventional thinking, may take a long time to address the goal of an Asian Union. It would be the role of the civil society, political movements and the progressive media to take this up on their agenda and build a people’s movement to create the Asian Union.
---
*Ecologist specializing in international environmental policy, UN environmental negotiator

Comments

TRENDING

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.