Comments on Carlyle A. Thayer “Kevin Rudd’s multi-layered Asia Pacific Community initiative”, 22/06/2009, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2009/06/22/kevin-rudds-multi-layered-asia-pacific-community-initiative/”
By describing none of the existing regional institutions were capable of engaging ‘in the full spectrum of dialogue, cooperation and action on economic and political matters and future challenges to security’, and proposing for a new institution, Rudd has had a different idea than the development or evolution of any of the existing institutions. So it seems that there is a fundamental difference between the Rudd proposal and any of the existing regional institutions. In this sense, it is incorrect to avoid this important point. As a result, it is questionable that attempts to bridge the two different things after the Rudd proposal ran into difficulties will inject any new insights into the Rudd proposal.
Despite that, Rudd's proposal may still be viable in its own right in a broad context of a combination of regional and trans-regional arrangements. But it is likely to proceed at a slower pace than Rudd probably has had in mind.
There is a clear need for an Asian regional organisation that represents Asia as a distinct region, just as Europe, Africa and America and / or North America and Latin America. This is especially important given the dynamics of the Asian region, especially the East Asia region over the past decades and the next few decades. It economic weight is increasing rapidly. This regional arrangement is likely to evolve from some sort of the existing institutions or loose organisations or forums, such as EAF and gradually expand to a broad and more inclusive Asian organisation. In such a regional institution, countries from other regions than Asia are unlikely to be members.
Rudd's proposal does not necessarily conflict with this Asian regional institutional development, because it represents a trans-regional institution. This trans-regional institution is based on both the inherent links between the Asia and Pacific regions but more importantly the existing reality of current security arrangement, as well as the likely shift in both the economic, political as well as military powers within Asia and the Pacific regions.
So, it may be more helpful if important and unavoidable distinctions are made rather than being hidden. Perhaps Rudd himself should make it clear whether his proposal is for an Asian regional or a trans-regional institution. To mud the two does not help to advance his proposal.