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US and Southeast Asia. From SEATO to ASEAN. Outline. US strategies of containment original formulation SEATO Indochina and the Philippines ASEAN Post-Cold War changes Counter-terrorism in Southeast Asia. Containment 1950s-1980s.

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US and Southeast Asia


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  • US strategies of containment

    • original formulation

    • SEATO

    • Indochina and the Philippines


    • Post-Cold War changes

  • Counter-terrorism in Southeast Asia

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Containment 1950s-1980s

  • US foreign policy treated Southeast Asia as an arena for competition with the Soviet Union

  • Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: ``Our objective was to purge our foreign policy of all sentimentality”

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Appeal of Communism

  • It seemed to be the wave of the future

    • dramatic economic and technological advances of the Soviet Union

    • anti-colonialism

    • ``importance by association” psychology

    • opportunity for greater personal power

    • public disappointment and resentment at the poverty and violence after independence

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Architect of Containment

  • George Kennan’s original formulation called for the coordinated use of political, economic, and military influence to prevent the expansion of Soviet control in vital regions

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Original Formulation

  • Traditional Russian sense of insecurity

  • Stalin’s need for a hostile world

  • S.U. was not primarily a military threat

  • A long-term containment of Russian expansive tendencies will lead to

    • "either the break-up or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power."

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``Truman Doctrine” (1947)

  • ``It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures”

  • Implies that substantial US support could be counted on anywhere, not just in those vital regions

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Economic Strategies

  • In late 1940s, economic assistance was the central pillar of anti-communist policy

    • Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe

    • The ``arsenal of democracy”

      • technological and economic resources

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Early Aid to Southeast Asia

  • US pressured the Netherlands to give independence to Dutch East Indies colony

  • US-Indonesia economic and technical assistance agreement in 1950

  • US aid programs to Thailand and Burma in 1950

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Militarization in Policy

  • US strategic shift of containment toward reliance on military strength in 1950s

  • Obligated US to ``bear any cost” against communist incursions anywhere in the world

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SEATO (1954 - 1977)

  • Southeast Asia Treaty Organization

  • Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty

  • Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States

  • oppose further Communist gains in Southeast Asia

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SEATO (1954 - 1977)

  • Headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand

  • SEATO's principal role was to sanction the U.S. presence in Vietnam, although France and Pakistan withheld support

  • Unable to intervene in Laos or Vietnam in ‘60s and ‘70s due to its rule of unanimity

  • SEATO was ultimately disbanded in 1977

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``Falling Domino" Principle

  • President Eisenhower (1954-04-07):

    • ``beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences”

    • ``the possible sequence of events, the loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia”

    • ``the possible consequences of the loss are just incalculable to the free world”

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``Falling Domino" Principle

  • Simplistic perception of a monolithic Communist bloc

  • Simplistic assumption that societies and politics in the vast, diverse Asia-Pacific region were essentially all alike

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A Source of Misperception

  • The communist-hunt of 1947-1953 in US

    • Federal Employee Loyalty Program

    • House Un-American Activities Committee

    • Internal Security Act

    • Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed communists had infiltrated S.D. and US Army

  • purged the Administration of its best senior Asia expertise

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US in the Philippines

  • Philippines became a cornerstone of US ``containment” in Southeast Asia

  • US shored up the Philippine government with advisors and assistance

  • US upgraded its two bases in the Philippines

    • Clark Air Force Base and the Subic Naval Base

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Clark Air Force Base

  • Damaged by a volcanic eruption in 1991

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Subic Naval Base

  • The air and naval bases became the most consistent, visible, and emotional of the issues that troubled US-Philippine post-war relations

  • Natural disaster and the end of Cold War made these bases less desirable to US

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Subic Bay

  • Closed in 1992

  • Philippine government converted it into a special economic zone to attract investment

    • Subic Bay Freeport Zone

    • Commerce and tourism

  • 1996 APEC Summit

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ASEAN: overview

  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations

  • 10 member states

    • Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, & Vietnam

  • home to over 500 million people

  • collective GDP of US$750 billion

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ASEAN: founding (1967)

  • 5 founding members:

    • Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines

  • Bangkok Declaration of 1967:

    • accelerate economic growth

    • promote regional peace and stability

    • contain the spread of communism

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End of Cold War

  • ASEAN Free Trade Area

    • initiated at ASEAN summit in 1992

    • comprehensive program of regional tariff reduction

    • program later broadened and accelerated

    • reaffirmed during Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-1998

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End of Cold War

  • Expansion of ASEAN

    • 1995: Vietnam

    • 1997: Laos

    • 1997: Myanmar

    • 1999: Cambodia

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ASEAN: external links

  • A joint forum with Japan was established in 1977

  • A cooperation agreement with the European Community was signed in 1980

  • ``ASEAN + 3”: regular series of meetings at the cabinet and head-of-government levels with Japan, China, and South Korea since 1997

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ASEAN and U.S.

  • Investment:

    • US$100 billion in U.S. direct investment

  • Market:

    • 3rd largest overseas market for U.S. exports

  • Trade:

    • Two-way ASEAN-U.S. trade totaled US$172 billion in 2007, up from $85 billion in 1990

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  • US troops in the Philippines to assist Philippine armed forces to fight terrorists

  • 2000-12-24 church bombings in Indonesia

  • 2000-12-30 bombing in Manila, Philippines

  • 2002-10-12 the Bali attacks

  • 2003-08-05 J.W. Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta

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  • US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State:

    • ``the common threat of terrorism has actually strengthened (U.S.) cooperation and ties with key Southeast Asian countries."