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The Future Shape of U.S.-ASEAN Relations

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008

Amidst economic uncertainty and political excitement, academics and diplomats converged in Washington last week to discuss the future direction of the United States' Southeast Asia strategy. Their assessments, along with broader regional developments, highlight the key challenges, shifts and continuities that will drive the next administration's policy toward the region.

Most of the conference participants agreed that the absence of a serious conventional threat meant that Southeast Asia's challenges and flash points will continue to remain internal, such as insurgency, abrupt political transitions and economic volatility. Thus, on the security front, Washington must build on its successes in assisting its friends and allies -- such as Indonesia and the Philippines -- without stoking nationalist sentiments. In Manila for instance, the U.S. has recently been accused of using its assistance to the Philippine military to interfere in other internal struggles. ...

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