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The Changing Security Agenda in Southeast Asia: Globalization, New Terror, and the Delusions of Regionalism

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The regional economic crisis of 1997–98 placed a large question mark over the advocacy, much proclaimed between 1990 and 1997, that ASEAN was at the centre of a shift in the global order toward a Pacific Century premised on the Association's practices of multilateral cooperation, dialogue, consensus, and non-interference. Does the aftermath of the crisis, and the new agenda posed by the forces of economic globalization and the seemingly irresolvable low intensity conflicts that bedevil Southeast Asia, require radical re-thinking of the relevance of security arrangements in Pacific Asia that are essentially the product of the Cold War era? This study examines this question by considering the curious external conditions in which ASEAN rose to international prominence, how ASEAN erroneously came to be seen in the 1990s as an apparently new form of security cooperation, and how rising levels of violent internal challenges generated by the forces of globalization threaten Southeast Asia's stability. The conclusion is that these forces have exposed ASEAN's constituting incoherence as an imitation community and that consequently it is ill equipped to contend with the pressures exerted by the global information age.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2001-07-01

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