Edited by James Sperling
Chapter 14: Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is a byword for diversity. It is possible to find examples of nearly every conceivable form of political organization and level of economic development imaginable in the region, from rich Singapore to poor Laos, and from democratic Indonesia to ‘communist’ Vietnam, with lots of variations in between (Case 2002). And yet amid all this heterogeneity there are some surprising commonalities and congruencies. Much of the congruence springs from a shared history; much of the commonality flows from a desire to overcome the legacy of ‘late’ development and a concomitant sense of insecurity. Paradoxically enough, therefore, the pursuit of stability and independence in the face of an, at times, inauspicious geopolitical context has given Southeast Asian states reasons to cooperate despite their diversity. Security governance in Southeast Asia continues to reflect the imprint of such historical factors to this day (Collins 2003; Emmers 2009; Goh 2008). As a result, if we want to understand the evolution and contemporary dimensions of security governance in the region, we must begin by looking backwards to see why Southeast Asian states continue to have such a preoccupation with ‘Westphalian’ forms of security and stability. The discussion of security governance in this region is consequently organized in the following way. First, I provide a snapshot of the region’s historical development and the individual states that make up ASEAN. Second, I look at ASEAN itself, as this organization more than any other has come to represent the region and shape the conduct of intra-regional relations.
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