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The changing architecture of politics in the Asia-Pacific: Another (lost) Middle Power Moment?

Beeson, M. and Higgott, R. (2013) The changing architecture of politics in the Asia-Pacific: Another (lost) Middle Power Moment? In: KAIS-KF International Conference: The Role of Middle Power in the 21st Century International Relations, 19-20 April 2013, Lotte Hotel, Seoul, Korea pp. 61-84.

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Middle power theory is enjoying a modest renaissance. For all its possible limitations, middle power theory offers a potentially useful framework for thinking about the behavior and options open to key states in the Asia-Pacific such as South Korea, Japan, Australia and the ASEAN grouping; states that are secondary rather than primary players. We argue that middle powers have the potential to successfully implement 'games of skill', especially at moments of international transition. Frequently, however, middle powers choose not to exercise their potential influence because of extant alliance commitments and the priority accorded to security questions. However, our first case study-ASEAN-illustrates that even in the security sphere, modestly credentialed states can respond effectively and creatively to great power pressure. Our second case study-Australia-illustrates that while states may have the capacity to act, they often fail to utilize it. We suggest that if the 'middle power moment' is to amount to more than rhetoric, opportunities must be acted upon.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: Vice Chancellery
School of Management and Governance
Publisher: The Korean Association of International Studies (KAIS) Korea Foundation (KF)
Copyright: The Authors
Conference Website:
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