The annual number of battle deaths from interstate and intra-state conflicts in East Asia has declined by 95% since 1979. During the past three decades, East Asia has been more peaceful than Europe, the Americas or any continent, in terms of battle deaths per capita. When generating theories on peace and war, studies almost never look at the experiences of East Asia. Yet the region by focusing on a commitment to development, is a social reality that is less paranoid, less militaristic and more cooperative. Since 1979 there has been a commonly accepted rule to keep domestic issues domestic so that external military interference, that often caused the majority of battle deaths, was not needed. Thus the emergence of the long peace of East Asia is historically specific, and cannot be generalized by studying objective, material conditions independent of common perceptions and common interpretations. This does not mean that the East Asian experience is not relevant for other regions in the world, but that generalizations should not be attempted to be drawn from the material conditions, but rather from the lived experience and socially constructed realities of East Asia. Since East Asia is a spectacular case of pacification, and since it has not contributed much to our theories of peace and conflict, The Long Peace of East Asia is an important book for studies on peace and war.
Timo KivimÃ¤ki is Professor of international relations with particular expertise in peace and conflict studies at the University of Bath. Previously he has held professorships at the University of Helsinki, University of Lapland, and at the University of Copenhagen. Professor KivimÃ¤ki has also been director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (Copenhagen) and the Institute of Development Studies of the University of Helsinki. In addition to purely academic work Professor KivimÃ¤ki has been a frequent consultant to the Finnish, Danish, Dutch, Russian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Swedish governments, as well as to several UN and EU organizations on conflict and terrorism. He was President Martti Ahtisaari’s (mediators) adviser in the Aceh peace talks, and the initiator of the West Kalimantan peace process, led by Indonesia’s Vice President, Jusuf Kalla. Dr KivimÃ¤ki’s book, Can Peace Research Make Peace? was published by Ashgate in 2012.
’In one fell swoop, backed by impressive data sets, Professor Timo Kivimaki methodically and empirically destroyed all arguments, and one might add, theoretical pretences about Asian Pacific Way or the ASEAN way. The results are clarity, irrefutability and sheer analytical precision; rather than mere belief in constructivism or culture as the predisposition of the region. Incidents of war are almost non-existent in East Asia. Those who believe that wars in the region are still thinkable have to face these evidences head on.’ Phar Kim Beng, CEO Foundation of Research on Transformation, Malaysia ’Based on the experience of East Asia, this book develops peace research and political science generally by revealing several weaknesses in the theory of peace. The book is a remarkable and impressive achievement.’ Lang Youxing, Zhejiang University, China