Juxtaposed between a raising China and a hegemonic US, what strategy should Indonesia pursue – balancing, bandwagoning, buckpassing, hedging?


Security always become primary concerned of state. There are some of alliance theory that can be used and apply in security strategic of  state. They are balancing, bandwagoning, buckpassing, and hedging

Balancing is the situation when a state balance against stronger power by allying with weaker states. Balancing occurs when weaker states decide that the dominance and influence of a stronger state is unacceptable and that the costs of allowing the stronger state to continue their policies unchecked is greater than the cost of action against the stronger state. There are two types of balancing. First is internal balancing by increase its own capability. Second is external balancing by forming alliance. Balancing is opposed to bandwagoning.

Bandwagoning is the situation when weaker state allying stronger state within balance of power politics. Bandwagoning occurs when weaker states decide that the cost of opposing a stronger power exceeds the benefits. The stronger power may offer incentives, such as the possibility of territorial gain, trade agreements, or protection for the weaker states, to induce weaker states to join with it.

Realism predicts that states will bandwagon rarely, only when there is no possibility of building a balancing coalition or their geography makes balancing difficult. Bandwagoning is driven by profit rather than security concern. The reason is just like I told before that the stronger power may offer incentives if weaker states join them in coalition.

Buckpassing is counting on the third parties to bear the cost of stopping a rising hegemon. We can say that there is a state that becomes a free rider on other states. They may do this because they don’t want to bear unnecessary cost or don’t want to sturdy tied to one party. In other words, we can say that buckpassing is the action of transferring responsibility or blame on another. Buckpassing in international relations theory involves the tendency of nation – states to refuse to confront a growing threat in the hopes that another state will.

Hedging is a set of strategies aimed at avoiding (or planning for contingencies in) a situation in which states cannot decide upon more straightforward alternatives such as balancing, bandwagoning, or neutrality. In other words, state avoids to choose one side of another. Hedging strategy emphasize to prepare all of military capability for doing all military work on all spectrum. Hedging strategy becomes a choice because of uncertainty in international security of future.

Before we decide which one is the best strategy for Indonesia, lets we talk about Indonesia – America relations, China – America relations, and Indonesia – China relations.

We can say that China is the new economic power of the world, based on fact that China has been success pass world economic crisis at 2008 – 2009, and turn up as one of new power of economic, with the highest level of GDP, and economic growth. Rising China threat American position as world hegemony. China is predicted can balance America power, and their economic growth will pass American in short time.

Indonesia – America relationship has begun since nineteenth century, when Thomas Hewel  become first consulate of Amerika that take hold of Batavia on 24 November 1801 till 26 January 1802. Indonesian – America relationship not always harmony, but also has crisis through the time. American army landed at Indonesian territory for the first time on 21 April 1944, during world war II. On 28 December 1949, America give their justification to Indonesian, and put their first ambassador for US embassy in Jakarta. Recently, Indonesia has a ‘romantic’ relations with America. From economic view, America has helped Indonesia pass the crisis that happen on 1997 – 1998 through IMF, World Bank, and another international economic body, because America is a biggest donor for that institutions. It isn’t over there. Till now, Indonesia still depend on America about their economic. In Obama era, this relations become more ‘romantic’ than before. Hillary Clinton, American Minister for Foreign Affair, visits Indonesia for her first visiting state. America said that Indonesia has an important rule to recovery American image in Islamic world.

China and Indonesia established their relationship on 13 April 1965. On 6 August 1990, when prime minister of China meet president of Indonesian, both countries agree improve and develop their friendship. Actually, Indonesian’s economic also depending on China indirectly. Many from Indonesian’s entrepreneurs come from China, or ethnic heritage of China.

About America – China relationship, it’s become a hot issue lately. Many experts predict that china become new economic power, and in short time possible to pass America. We know that, as a hegemonic power, America dislike this condition. American makes this their priority just below terrorism, Iraq, and Iran problem.

It becomes dilemmatic for Indonesian, if Indonesia has to choose one of the side, China or America, because Indonesia still need both countries to support their economic. If Indonesia choose one side openly, another side will react to Indonesian choice.

National interest of Indonesia still become first priority and primary concern. So I suggest that Indonesia still cooperate with both country, and don’t take too much tie with one side, but better if Indonesia can take care of their own business by allying with another countries in its area. In other words, I try to say that it’s good for Indonesia if they can balance America and China through alliance with another ASEAN state.

We can say that Indonesia is a powerful state in ASEAN, because Indonesian i one of ASEAN’s founder. Indonesian has a central role in each ASEAN activity. Each agreement that make in ASEAN forum, ask for Indonesian opinion first. If Indonesian can ask another members of ASEAN to make a coalition in economic and security, so ASEAN can become new power and has a opportunity to balancing against China and America, at least they can do internal balancing trough agreement in security and economic sector, and ensure their regional stability.

If Indonesian and other members do that, so ASEAN will have more bargaining position in international arena, and maybe ASEAN become a new power in international society.

Indonesia and other states of ASEAN have more than enough resources to do that, whether it is natural resources or human resources.  But the problem is most of ASEAN member has internal problem that need to take care first, like Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia its own. So its rather difficult to make coalition among them. I also see another possibility for Indonesia to do bandwagoning or buckpassing with America or China, but like I said before, it’s better to Indonesia if they can take care their own bussines through coalitions among states in their region.

About Dyra Gustin

Free spirited, adventurer, child at heart
This entry was posted in learning and sharing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Juxtaposed between a raising China and a hegemonic US, what strategy should Indonesia pursue – balancing, bandwagoning, buckpassing, hedging?

  1. shanteukie says:

    hmmmmm
    baco dulu yow

  2. debby109 says:

    ok beb,, baco dan pahami dih!!🙂

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