Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The United States in Southeast Asia: Deepening the Rut?

The United States in Southeast Asia: Deepening the Rut?

Even before the Bush administration recognized Southeast Asia as a theater in its war on terrorism, the nature and future of America’s role in the region needed serious reassessment. Events since 9/11 have renewed Washington’s interest in Southeast Asian affairs, after many years of apparent neglect, but discussion of the region continues to be framed by a security-centered perspective. By uniting supporters of a narrow military approach to the region and advocates of a broader strategy to counter its terrorism problem, the war on terrorism is likely to reinforce entrenched but outdated patterns of engagement between the United States and Southeast Asia. The persistence of those patterns will diminish prospects for a constructive long-term American role in the region in an era marked by the rise of its great neighbors, China and India.

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