AbstractsPolitical Science

From a Special Relationship to a Pluralistic Security Community: A Study of Indonesia-Malaysia Relations

by Ying Chan Ho

Institution: University of New South Wales
Department: Humanities & Social Sciences
Year: 2015
Keywords: Indonesia-Malaysia Relations; Special Relationship; Security Community
Record ID: 1043339
Full text PDF: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/54343


The aim of this thesis is to examine the concept of a special relationship and its links with a pluralistic security community. A special relationship is a close relation between two states founded on two sources of closeness, that of the two states' common identities and shared strategic interests. By contrast, a pluralistic security community is formed by states where neither of them would even consider the use of violence as a means to resolve their disputes. The thesis addresses a central question: under what circumstances could a special relationship lead to the emergence of a pluralistic security community? The thesis develops a theoretical framework based on constructivist theory in order to explain the dynamics of a special relationship, and its transformation into a pluralistic security community. It uses the histories of Anglo-American and US-Canada relations from the 1850s to the 1960s to substantiate its arguments. The thesis argues that a special relationship produces double-edged effects - substantial cooperation and substantial conflicts - between the two states concerned. Meanwhile, a special relationship constitutes a security regime, which means two states sharing special ties are committed to avoiding war between them. Because of this commitment, the substantial conflicts in a special relationship will not easily become violent ones. The thesis then argues that based on its existing function as a security regime, a special relationship will transform into a pluralistic security community when a power imbalance exists between the two states involved. In other words, the presence of a power imbalance in a special relationship is necessary, if it is to transform into a pluralistic security community. The thesis tests its hypothesis through the examination of Indonesia-Malaysia relations from 1957 to 2009. It makes four contributions to the existing literature on International Relations: it develops an understanding of a special relationship with theoretical foundations; it clarifies the interrelation between a special relationship and a pluralistic security community; it provides a clearer understanding of the relationship between power and common identities of the states concerned; finally, it strengthens the existing understanding of Indonesia-Malaysia relations by providing an explanation of the interplay of power and common identities in the relationship.