The cold war was the period that ran roughly between 1946 and 1991 and was defined by proxy wars, military tension, political conflict and economic competition.
During this time, the communist world, the Soviet Union and its allies, was in economic competition with the powers of the Western world like Europe. There was no actual battle, but the conflict was apparent. The cold war took effect on the European continent and spread over to the Asia-Pacific region.
The primary difference in the cold war order of the Asia-Pacific and that of Europe was instigated by the reason for security arrangements between the two regions. Europe was intrinsically driven by the aim of preventing wars in Europe, and between East and West in Europe whereas Asia-Pacific was wedded to a more contemporary conception of sovereignty.
Europe and Asia-Pacific had been incorporated into America’s global grand plan of containing the Soviet Union during the cold war. Three principal objectives governed this grand strategy. One, there was the need to enhance the dominance by the US in international relations. Two, it was necessary to contain and finally acquire victory over the Soviet challenge.
The final objective was aimed at preventing an outbreak of a major war between the two superpowers, which could be catastrophic, due to their easy access to enormously damaging nuclear arsenals, and their immediate retaliation after an attack of whatever nature (Maull 1).
The Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) process was used as Europe’s principal institutional expression to pursue its objectives via collective defence arrangements like NATO. In addition, deterrence and formulation of a policy that would reduce tensions, through détente, were also used (Maull 2-3).
Asia-Pacific on the other hand pursued its objectives through balance of power and deterrence, which were developed based on bilateral security arrangements, and strategic rapprochement between China and America that had begun in 1972.
Europe’s security arrangement operated under the double containment security system, where the Brussels Treaty of 1948 was the nucleus of it. This treaty was used to contain both Germany, and the Soviet Union. Europe adopted a multilateral security system that led to the formation of the Western European Union.
The start of the mid-1950s to the end of the cold war was characterized by withdrawal of efforts aimed at foreseeing European integration, from security and the military. The European Economic Community (EC) and Euratom were developed under the treaties of Rome. The Euratom was aimed at ensuring that West Germany remained as a non-nuclear status.
The EC on the other hand aimed at developing strategies for use in the coordination of foreign policy. It eventually grew into a Common Foreign and Security Policy in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, and the 1999 Common European Security and Defence Policy (Maull 6).
The Asia-Pacific built its bilateral security arrangements with Japan, and the Republics of China (Taiwan) and Korea. Multilateral security institutions played a discrete minor role. Unlike in Europe, the US became the sole occupation power in Japan.
America, during the Vietnam War, pushed the Manila Pact and the highly recognized collective defence organisation, the South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) that had spawned from it, via America’s direct leverage to South Vietnam.
The efforts by South Korea and America to build a North East Asia Treaty Organization as a collective defence security arrangement aiming at containment of North Korea and China was never a success because Tokyo pulled out of this plan.
In addition to SEATO, the ANZUS Pact, made up of Australia, New Zealand and the United, was among the existing collective defence arrangements that remained marginal to Pacific Asia’s security architecture (Maull 9).
Maull, Hanns W. Security cooperation in Europe and Pacific Asia: a comparative analysis. The Journal of East Asian Affairs (Korea), 19:2 (2005): pp. 1-32. Web.