Past Activities


By Prof Amitav Acharya

The seminar will address two questions. First: what sort of international order is emerging following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon? We seem to live in an age of fear. International relations is now not just about power politics but also about fear politics. The most powerful nation in the world, the United States, is also the most fearful nation in the world when it comes to terrorism. World politics is increasing being defined by different kinds of fears: fear of the terrorist, fear of Islam, fear of the hegemony, and fear of the state apparatus.

Second, can this Age of Fear bring the nations of Asia, and the world at large, together? International cooperation against terrorism is increasing, both globally and regionally. But there remain many barriers to meaningful cooperation; chief among them lack of a common understanding of the sources and scope of terror and the continuing salience of national interests over common interest. September 11 will not usher in a clash of civilizations. States will always act as states first, mindful of their interests and principles, rather than being driven by primordial instincts and identities. But it has produced (as already evident) a greater tendency towards unilateralism on the part of the US and led to a strengthening of the state against societal forces. The rules of the game of international politics are being reworked in response to these developments. The fear of transnational terrorism cannot be overcome without resort to significant and genuine multilateral cooperation.

About the Speaker
Prof Amitav Acharya
Professor, Deputy Director and Head of Research, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies

Amitav Acharya is Deputy Director and Head of Research at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he also holds a professorship. He is on leave as a Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto. He has held fellowships at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore (1987-89), Harvard Asia Center (2000-1), and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (2000-1). He was a faculty member at the National University of Singapore (1990-92), a visiting faculty at Sydney University (1998), and an ASEM Chair in Regional Integration at the Europe-Asia Institute, University of Malaya in January 2003. Among his latest publications are Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order (Routledge, 2001), and Regionalism and Multilateralism: Essays on Cooperative Security in the Asia Pacific (Times Academic Press, 2002). He is a member of the Eminent Persons/Expert Group of the ASEAN Regional Forum, a member of the international editorial board of Pacific Review, a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Regional Security Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and co-editor of the Asian Security monograph series published by Stanford University Press.

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