Hedging or Not Hedging? Reassessing the Security Practices of Southeast Asian States

Professor Jürgen Haacke
4 September 2018

Much of the literature on hedging in International Relations focuses on how secondary states have responded to security concerns associated with major powers. With regards to Southeast Asia, there is a widespread view that most if not all ASEAN states are hedging as far as their relations with China and the United States are concerned. Taking account of different understandings of the concept, Professor Jürgen Haacke will demonstrate that works on hedging focused on empirical evidence from Southeast Asia actually give rise to very different assessments even with regards to the basic question as to which ASEAN states are hedging. This divergence of perspective arises from scholars not only defining hedging in different ways but also drawing on different indicators when examining whether a state is hedging. To address this problem, Professor Haacke suggests that there are advantages to clearly distinguish hedging from balancing. He also offers a related methodological framework that identifies four key tests to assess whether a small or middle power is hedging in the context of triangular relations with major powers. Applying this framework to Southeast Asia, the speaker will reassess whether the practice of hedging by regional states vis-à-vis the major powers is as frequent as many believe.

About the Speaker: Jürgen Haacke is Associate Professor in International Relations at the London School of Economics & Political Science. From August 2016 until July 2018 he was the Director of the LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre. His research focuses primarily on the international relations of Southeast Asia and ASEAN. He has a longstanding particular interest in foreign policy analysis.