Confidence-building Measures in Asia-Pacific: Reversing the Slide to Violence

EDITORIAL, 3 Apr 2023

#790 | René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

With U.S. and Chinese military engaged near Taiwan, a miscalculation could lead to armed violence.  The armed conflict in Ukraine has heightened the debate on the possibility of armed conflict between China and Taiwan.  Tensions between the two Korean states remain high.  The border clash between Indian and Chinese forces in June 2020 has highlighted residual tensions between the two countries.  One could add other tensions in the Asia-Pacific area to the list.

Less obvious are the possibilities of confidence-building measures that would reduce these tensions and might open doors to cooperation in the security, economic and social spheres.

There are confidence-building measures that can be undertaken by governments.  Whereas we, outside of governmental positions, can make suggestions as to steps that governments could take, we nevertheless have little possibility to oblige action by them.  Thus we have to consider what confidence-building measures we as academics and non-governmental organization activists can undertake.

Fortunately, we have long experience of working to reduce the tensions between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union (NATO and the Warsaw Pact) which led to the Helsinki Agreements and finally the end of the Cold War.  Much of the analysis is still of value such as Mary Kaldor (Ed) Europe from Below (London: Verso: 1991). Many of the peace organizations that were involved are still in existence and could focus on Asia-Pacific issues.

There have also been efforts on confidence-building in the Israel-Palestine conflict and in the wider Middle East. Repeated efforts concerning tensions between India and Pakistan often focused on the tensions in Kashmir.

Today, there is a need to draw upon these experiences to impart conflict resolution skills to new individuals and groups, thereby building and expanding the constituencies working for conflict reduction measures.  New participants can have backgrounds in psychology, religion, law and communications with experience in social movements and community action programs.

There is also a need to draw upon categories of people who were not directly involved in earlier efforts.  Often women were marginalized not only in government negotiations but even in non-governmental efforts.  These processes of dialogue have a value in deepening understanding of a situation.  However, the emphasis should be on developing proposals for confidence-building measures.

Tensions in the Asia-Pacific area are growing, and there is a need for concerted action to reduce the slide to violence.  As Don Carlson and Craig Comstock point out in their book, Citizen Summitry: Keeping the Peace when it matters too much to be left to politicians (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tacker, Inc. 1986):

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”


René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 3 Apr 2023.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Confidence-building Measures in Asia-Pacific: Reversing the Slide to Violence, is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

2 Responses to “Confidence-building Measures in Asia-Pacific: Reversing the Slide to Violence”

  1. I understand very well what René Wadlow proposes, but I ask “what’s the point in imparting conflict resolution skills to new individuals and groups,when politicians keep concocting, negotiating, organising, and carrying out slaughter and genocide as they see fit, in order to please their sponsors in the War industry.

    Does Mr Wadlow thing politicians are stupid? Why do they promote the manufacturing, buying and selling machine guns, landmines, grenades, bombs, rockets, rocket launchers and interceptors, tanks, bombing helicopters and drones, torpedoes, WAR ships and ait FIGHTERS, if their aim is Peace?

    The problem to me lies in the fact the good soul that Mr Wadlow sees the UN as a force for good. He believes ECOSOC the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation, exists to reduce tensions and bring Peace to the planet, when the reverse is true.

    Without tension and the possibility of war, nobody buys military paraphernalia. All Governments have to keep inventing possible enemies to justify their obscene and corrupt military expenditure. They spend money that is NOT theirs but the commissions or bribes they receive is in THEIR pocket or Bank account.

    This is how the War Club United Nations solves economic and social issues, ensuring the 15 million workers in the War industry and the 110 million military personnel keep their jobs. We have so many wars in the world, all organized and carried out by UN countries. Some countries started Civil Wars after becoming members of the War Club ‘United Nations’.

    The presence of tanks. soldiers, and all military vehicles and gadgets create TENSION. Why then does the UN have Armed Forces? Same as they are called “Peace” Forces, all other Forces are called “Defense”. Political and diplomatic hypocrisy, with the help of the ‘Presstitutes’ in the Media NEVER speak of ‘Attack’ Forces, which is the REAL reason we have Armed Forces.

    Is someone randomly planting landmines, throwing grenades, launching bombs and rockets without even knowing the victims, ‘defending’ something? a pilot happily flying over a town at great speeds and heights, destroying life, buildings and polluting the air, what is he ‘defending’?

    Unless all of us unite in saying, in shouting “Enough is Enough!!!!!” and demand the immediate universal abolition of Militarism, the planet is doomed.

    • Reply from author René Wadlow:

      “I was trying to make two points: First that the tensions in the Indo-Pacific area are strong and multiple so that tension-reduction measures need to be rapidly undertaken. Such rapid measures can only be taken by government leaders. I have just written a piece on the current trip of French President Macron to China and the possible role that China might play for an end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

      “Secondly, in a longer range perspective, there is the tension-reduction efforts that can be taken in a “Track Two” style by academics, peace researchers, journalists building on the experience of such efforts with the USSR over the long Cold War period. We who were involved in this process can pass on some of our experience and ideas to those working on Asia-Pacific tensions, especially concerning China.

      “Mr Portugheis rightly stresses the fact that much money is spent on arms and the military and that the modern “Merchants of Death” have political influence; I certainly agree. Thus those of us not related to the arms industry must work with imagination, energy, and conviction in whatever avenues we have.”

      — René Wadlow