Skip to main content

Air Force One on tarmac in Malaysia surrounded by royal-looking guards Lawrence Jackson/Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire

The Dark Heart of ASEAN

Next week's meeting between US President Barack Obama and the leaders of the ten ASEAN countries – the first US-ASEAN meeting on American soil – signifies America’s growing interest in Southeast Asia. The question is whether, by engaging with all members of ASEAN, the US is allowing its interests to overwhelm its principles.

WASHINGTON, DC – Next week, at a summit in California, US President Barack Obama will meet with the leaders of the ten countries of Asia’s most important regional grouping: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The event, the first-ever US-ASEAN summit on American soil, is being touted as a sign of America’s growing interest in Southeast Asia. The question is whether the US, by inviting all members of ASEAN, has allowed its interests to overwhelm its principles.

The upcoming summit is the latest manifestation of the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot” toward Asia – a national security strategy that entails a shift of American military, economic, and diplomatic resources toward the Pacific Rim countries. In many ways, this move toward closer relations makes a lot of sense.

For starters, tensions between several Southeast Asian countries and China are on the rise, owing partly to the fact that China, under President Xi Jinping (its most autocratic leader since Deng Xiaoping), has been acting increasingly assertively in staking its contested territorial claims in the region’s waters. Most recently, China decided to move an oil rig into waters claimed by Vietnam. A similar decision two years ago led to deadly anti-China riots in Vietnam.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/7dhVdHT;
  1. reinhart39_ Sha HantingChina News ServiceVisual China Group via Getty Images_jerome powell Sha Hanting/China News Service/Visual China Group via Getty Images

    Jerome Powell’s Dilemma

    Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent Reinhart

    There is a reason that the US Federal Reserve chair often has a haunted look. Probably to his deep and never-to-be-expressed frustration, the Fed is setting monetary policy in a way that increases the likelihood that President Donald Trump will be reelected next year.

    0
  2. mallochbrown10_ANDREW MILLIGANAFPGetty Images_boris johnson cow Andrew Milligan/AFP/Getty Images

    Brexit House of Cards

    Mark Malloch-Brown

    Following British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament, and an appeals court ruling declaring that act unlawful, the United Kingdom finds itself in a state of political frenzy. With rational decision-making having become all but impossible, any new political agreement that emerges is likely to be both temporary and deeply flawed.

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions