On December 16, The German Marshall Fund of the United States hosted an event to celebrate the release of three new policy papers by participants in the 2014 Young Strategists Forum (YSF). Titled “The Evolving Asian Landscape: A YSF Paper Series Launch,” the event featured Michael Horowitz, associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, and Julia Macdonald, Stanton nuclear security pre-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sharon Stirling-Woolsey, Asia program officer at GMF, moderated the event.
Horowitz began the discussion by outlining the key findings of the policy paper which he co-authored with fellow YSF participant Vipin Narang, “A Modi-Fication Of The India-Japan Relationship?”. Horowitz highlighted that strategic thinkers are increasingly thinking about the region as the Indo-Pacific as opposed to the Asia-Pacific. He noted the strong personal relationship between Prime Ministers Abe and Modi, and the potential for regional relationships, such as the strengthening one between India and Japan, to supplant a “hub and spoke” model of Asian security centered on the United States. Stronger bilateral ties between U.S. friends and allies in Asia, argued Horowitz, would ultimately benefit security and stability in Asia.
Following Horowitz’s remarks, Macdonald, co-author of “An Anglo-French “Pivot”? The Future Drivers Of Europe-Asia Cooperation” with Anna di Mattia, said that recent transatlantic attention on Asia policy has often overlooked the Asia policies of individual European states. Macdonald summarized the economic, security, and diplomatic interests of the United Kingdom and France in Asia, and noted that both the UK and France have close relationships with Japan. She also cautioned that the UK and France must also be wary of engaging in harmful economic competition in Asia.
The two presentations were followed by a lively discussion among the group on a wide-ranging set of questions on Asia. One participant suggested that the India-Japan relationship challenges the narrative that concerns about China are driven by Washington. Many agreed with the idea that it is in America’s interest to build partner capacity in Asia. Others noted that the significance of the fact that Japan’s first post-World War II weapons export will likely be an amphibious plane to India. Finally, one participant suggested that Europe and Japan might be able to coordinate more on issues of mutual concern such as shared demographic challenges.