International Relations in an Age of Volatility
Chapter 4: Norms are what strong states make of them: ASEAN in an age of volatility
The previous chapter considered ASEAN’s increasing profile on the global stage from the 1970s onwards and dissected the claims made both by Southeast Asian political elites, and scholarly opinion, going into the 1990s, which held that the Association’s norms and practices could transform Asia’s international relations. ASEAN, it was maintained, was the harbinger of regional solutions to regional problems. In Peter Katzenstein’s words, the exciting possibilities of regionalism offered a ‘stepping stone for international cooperation between unsatisfactory national approaches on the one hand and unworkable universal schemes on the other’, while for scholars, he continued, ‘regionalism brings into clearer focus an important intersection of the international and domestic factors that shape economic fortunes, security interests, and cultural identities of political actors’. As Chapter 3 revealed, though, a close study of the ‘international and domestic factors’ that shaped the economic fortunes of Southeast Asia demonstrates that at the level of economic integration and institutional deepening progress was, despite the inflated rhetoric, disappointingly limited.
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