Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
The theory of the falling dominoes in Southeast Asia has been the subject of heated debate. Yet few sensible observers would deny that a settlement in Viet Nam will have a significant impact on the overall course of political evolution in the area and, conversely, that changing political conditions in Southeast Asia will affect the outlook for a permanent settlement in Viet Nam. Even in the shorter perspective, the chances of finding a stable compromise solution acceptable to the fighting parties appear greater when seen in the broader framework than when we view the problem in its strictly Vietnamese dimensions. For in the narrow context of the two Viet Nams there seem to be no conceivable alternatives which do not imply a significant victory for one side and a defeat for the other.
Despite the diverse ethnic, cultural and economic patterns in the small independent countries of Southeast Asia, where more than 100 million people live, political conditions are strikingly similar: everywhere tensions prevail and the interests of world powers clash.[i] The Viet Nam conflict represents only the most acute manifestation of the turmoil.
The main factors at the root of the Viet Nam crisis and the conflicting outside interests which have raised it to its present intensity are not Vietnamese alone but are features of the whole region. Everywhere, internal instability creates latent or open conflicts which the competing interests of the major world powers could escalate into international crises of the Viet Nam type. In fact, all the manifestations of Southeast Asian unrest since World War II—the Huk revolt in the Philippines, the insurgency in Malaya, the endemic insecurity in Burma, the war in Laos, the pre-insurgency situation in northeast Thailand—all arise from the same tensions. Historical circumstances have simply made Viet Nam the most extreme instance.
One principal origin of the local tensions is the combination of exacerbated nationalist feelings and unfulfilled expectations. A sense of national identity and patriotic pride have long existed in these lands of ancient culture, but now they have been reinforced by expectations of social and economic betterment springing directly from the struggle against alien colonial rule. Although the nations concerned have recovered their political independence, none of them has yet succeeded in getting rid of the kind of extractive economy which they look on as having been the basis of their exploitation. Achievement of political independence thus has left their social and economic expectations unfulfilled; and the resulting unrest has become general because, while there were enough cadres to start popular revolts, there were not enough technocrats to take up the task of building modern nations rapidly and speeding economic growth.
Another factor is that the countries of Southeast Asia are not overpopulated and that although the people are poor they do not live at such a low level of subsistence as to have become fatalistic about their lot. In searching for an appropriate form of nationhood many nationalists became fascinated with Marxist social doctrines and the alleged efficiency of communist techniques. Not surprisingly, then, each country emerged into independence with a relatively important and well-organized communist party. Interestingly, the only country which did not experience popular unrest after World War II was Thailand, which alone had not been under colonial rule; the turmoil there is now only in its formative stage.
Decolonization and the growth of rising expectations have resulted in clashes among social groups such as the old governing elite, the emerging technocrats, the military, the students and religious elements. An added source of turmoil, which might erupt into armed rebellion at any time, is the presence in every country of ethnic groups which have not been absorbed and which resent the majority rule and often oppose the central government. The chances of local armed conflict are further increased by the fact that following the collapse of Japanese rule and the achievement of independence guerrilla organizations were in existence in all the countries concerned; they included experienced cadres which could be enlarged as circumstances became favorable and foreign support was offered.
In addition, relations among these countries are damaged by memories of the long, bloody history which they have had in common and by the rivalries created by the present surge of hypersensitive nationalism. Often national leaders have succumbed to the temptation of escalating small incidents into international crises in order to divert popular dissatisfaction with domestic stagnation and mismanagement. This can be done easily because, as national economies are not often complementary, the severance of relations usually has no practical consequences. Thus Cambodia has broken relations with Thailand and South Viet Nam; Laos has experienced many ups and downs in her relations with her neighbors Cambodia, Thailand, North Viet Nam and South Viet Nam; and Malaysia and the Philippines interrupted relations over the issue of North Borneo. Burma has practically closed her door to the outside world. And North Viet Nam, in addition to military operations in South Viet Nam, supports armed actions in Laos and Thailand.
Southeast Asia's strategic location gives it political significance far out of proportion to its size, economic resources or populations. It lies between the two worlds of India and China which comprise half the population of the world. It commands the sea routes between Europe and East Asia and Australia. In the postwar period it has played a large part in the process of decolonialization, setting the pattern of relationships between the underdeveloped and the developed worlds and patterns of nonalignment and socialist nationalism.
Above all, as the Sino-Soviet rift develops, international crises in Southeast Asia and on the Indian subcontinent are progressively changing from bipolar to triangular confrontations. The Laotian crisis of 1961-62, the Chinese invasion of India, the Indo-Pakistani conflict and the war in Viet Nam not only illustrate the clash of interest between the Western world and the communist world but also reveal the gathering intensity of the Sino-Soviet competition—although as long as the Viet Nam war goes on and the communist world as a whole is under challenge it is difficult to imagine either China or the Soviets making a final break.
It is in a most complex context, then, that we must attempt to assess how much a settlement in Viet Nam will affect the policies and attitudes open to the main interested parties inside and outside the region.
North Viet Nam is thoroughly aware that a negotiated settlement would mean a cooling off of its relations with China. Time and again China has reaffirmed her opposition to any form of compromise; in fact, her public stand has so frozen the issue that by now world opinion and the various communist parties will interpret any settlement as a clear success for Russian influence and a serious setback to China. For the Communist Party of Viet Nam to agree to negotiate (even for purely tactical purposes) will mean that it has accepted the risk of a break with China or at least the prospect of a phase of cold relations.
Hanoi's concern for Chinese sensitivities is probably a main reason for the rigidity of its position, in sharp contrast with the tactical flexibility displayed at the time of the Viet Minh's fight against the French. During that period the North Vietnamese lost no opportunity of winning international sympathy, undermining Western support for France, dividing French opinion and eroding the French will to fight by hinting at possible concessions and keeping their own goals ambiguous. A year ago they showed some signs of this former flexibility by introducing some ambiguities regarding their preconditions for talks; but it was ended after a visit by Ho Chi Minh to Peking and the hardening of U. S. attitudes. More recently, an article in Hoc Tap which openly criticized the cult of personality and the cultural revolution was the first firm indication that Hanoi was concerned about the course of events within China.
The turmoil in China undoubtedly introduces an element of uncertainty into Hanoi's calculations, not only as regards political action but also its economic prospects. China is North Viet Nam's main trading partner. Although the Cultural Revolution seems so far to have had little effect on the Chinese economy, it brings into question China's ability to continue that role in the long run, particularly her ability to meet the growing food deficit in North Viet Nam. Thus North Viet Nam may find it necessary to turn some of her trade toward the Southeast Asian countries. In any event, considering the risk that China may react sharply to a willingness by Hanoi to negotiate, the North Vietnamese leaders may feel a need to find alternative trading partners as a means of meeting eventual economic pressure from China.
Thus North Viet Nam has several alternatives open to her in the aftermath of a negotiated settlement. In view of China's predictable opposition to a settlement, she may choose a policy that draws her away from China and closer to Moscow and that looks to Southeast Asia for regional trade. Or she may try to mend her relations with China and align herself again with Peking in the joint purpose of communizing and dominating Southeast Asia. Or she may try to reestablish good relations with China while maintaining her present ties to Moscow and developing new ones with Southeast Asia.
It seems unlikely that the North Vietnamese government will adopt the first alternative. It has always displayed a clear determination to maintain its own independent line, yet the prospect of facing a huge and hostile neighbor, even with Russian backing, will seem too much of a risk, particularly as this policy offers few advantages compared with the others. In addition, this course would increase Hanoi's dependence on a Southeast Asia which may be under predominantly U.S. influence.
The second alternative, i.e. realignment with China, is the most likely course in the event that Hanoi feels compelled under U.S. military pressure to accept a cease-fire or a settlement on U.S. terms as a provisional tactical retreat. Realignment with China in these circumstances will most likely lead to their jointly preparing wars of liberation in all countries of Southeast Asia.
On the whole it seems most likely that Hanoi will consider the third alternative course as the most advantageous. In the first place, it offers the greatest degree of flexibility. Inside a triple set of relationships—with Moscow, Peking and Southeast Asia—North Viet Nam might be able to pursue parallel policy objectives with Russia or China without being dependent on either. She might even find herself in a position to arbitrate to some degree where the interests of the two communist giants clash in Southeast Asia. In addition, such a policy will allow North Viet Nam eventually to quarantine herself from China in case the present turmoil there degenerates into chaos or civil war. It does not imply that the Vietnamese Communist Party will give up its ambition to be the dominant factor in the communization of Southeast Asia; simply, being less doctrinaire and more pragmatic than the Chinese, it may opt temporarily for a strategy of peaceful coexistence rather than persevering in an armed subversion which does not pay in existing circumstances.
China's reaction is the most unpredictable. It seems plausible to suppose, however, that an end of the war in Viet Nam may bring a real break between the Chinese and the Russian brands of communism. As already stated, the war has deepened the rift but at the same time has constituted the main obstacle to a break. In all likelihood, if a settlement in Viet Nam occurs, it will be the result of negotiations bypassing Peking. China cannot but oppose such a settlement; yet it seems unlikely that she would send troops into North Viet Nam in order to try to prevent negotiations unless she felt that the settlement foreseen would endanger the very existence of the communist régime there or that Hanoi was preparing to shift away from her orbit and join a United States-Soviet alliance in the making. Short of military intervention, however, China would use all means of pressure to coerce Hanoi into continuing the war, if only on a token scale. If that failed, relations between China and Hanoi would become strained at the time of settlement, but if Hanoi made a sufficient effort they could again become friendly even though, probably, never as cordial as when Hanoi was in the Chinese orbit.
In the face of a setback to her policy and doctrine in Viet Nam, China would redouble her efforts to control Southeast Asia. She is not likely to give up her role of emerging world power and champion of pure communist doctrine; nor is she likely to turn inward and concentrate on her problems of development. Thus we must expect increased Chinese efforts to spread revolution and trouble, and these will be directed chiefly toward Southeast Asia. There are many reasons for this, in addition to considerations of security and spheres of influence.
For years to come, although China will most likely try to intervene in international confrontations the world over, she is unlikely to have either the economic or military capabilities to be a determining factor in crises in faraway places. Her nuclear capability will be relatively limited for some time to come and will be credible to the world powers only in confrontations directly involving her own security. But in Southeast Asia, her nuclear capability will be more credible and her ground forces will also be a potent factor. She can carry out there what Kenneth Young, former American Ambassador to Thailand, has termed "aggression by seepage," avoiding direct collision with the United States while organizing proxy parties in neighboring countries and offering them privileged sanctuaries. She also could profit from the various tensions in the area, backing one country or another in ways that tend to expand her influence.
Another reason why China will put emphasis on Southeast Asia is that there, of all areas of the world, the cultural background and the prevailing economic and social frustrations offer a most favorable terrain for her to spread her brand of communism. The traditional distrust of Southeast Asians for China is largely compensated for by the Asian pride which is part of the nationalistic fervor. The extent to which the Chinese brand of communism prevails over the Russian in the Indian communist movement is a case in point.
To sum up, in Southeast Asia, China may find herself either in parallel action with Hanoi or in direct competition. What will happen in the long run depends on the evolution of Southeast Asia itself and on American and Soviet policies there when hostilities finally end.
When the war in Viet Nam ends, the Soviet Union will enjoy more freedom of action in Southeast Asia than at present, since its policy will not be handicapped by so many dilemmas and contradictions. The present façade of communist unity will not have survived a negotiation in which China is necessarily bypassed. Soviet Russia is most unlikely to consider Southeast Asia of secondary importance and leave it as a field of competition between China and the United States.
For a certain time at the end of the Khrushchev era, the Soviets seemed to have lost their position in Southeast Asia and to be concerning themselves less with events there; but since then they have made a noticeable comeback, not only in Viet Nam but in other countries of the area as well. The present political offensive of the Soviets there indicates that they hope that in the long run their brand of "goulash communism" will appeal to Asians, whom they suppose to be growing fearful of both China's revolutionary crusade and the American policy of military containment in Viet Nam.
To achieve an apparently moderate posture between the Chinese and American extremes, the Russians are focusing largely on economics. They have recently established diplomatic relations and signed a commercial agreement with Malaysia. They must be far from happy about General Suharto's vigorous anti-communism in Indonesia, yet they nevertheless have rescheduled the Indonesian debt of some $1.5 billion and are quietly working to improve their ties with Djakarta. The Philippine Government has recently authorized two commercial missions to Moscow and has just rescinded an old ruling prohibiting private firms from doing business with communist countries. Soviet moderation is particularly visible in the case of Laos, where Moscow loyally supports Premier Souvanna Phouma even though his government has evolved from its original neutralism to a position more to the right. The Soviets have also patched up their relations with Cambodia, which came near to a break at the end of 1965.
Thus it appears that in the aftermath of a settlement in Viet Nam, although the Soviet Union may be expected to take more positive steps toward a détente, it will not necessarily pursue a policy parallel to that of the United States and will not be primarily concerned about Chinese aggressive designs; rather, if it could, it would leave this task to the United States and try to exploit both Chinese and U.S. excesses. (In a moment of acute crisis threatening world peace, the Russians nevertheless would probably take parallel action with the United States to reduce tensions.) Although the Soviet Union would be likely to direct its policy mainly to strengthening its influence with governments, it would simultaneously support North Viet Nam in her subversive activities among Southeast Asian communist parties.
The chances of a more positive Russian policy depend mainly on two factors: (1) The state of Russian relations with China: if the relationship becomes very tense, Moscow will have to seek American coöperation in winning over Southeast Asia in an effort to contain China. (2) A possible change in U.S. policy: if American policy shifts away from military involvement in Southeast Asia following a Vietnamese settlement, Moscow may be induced to seek international guarantees for the security of the area.
In principle, it appears that a negotiated end of the war in Viet Nam might clear the way for the United States to make new policy approaches in Southeast Asia. In practice, because of its past commitments and the responsibilities it has assumed for the maintenance of world stability, any shift in the U.S. policy poses many delicate problems. In particular, the American military presence in Southeast Asia cannot be terminated over a short period of time without creating serious difficulties. It seems virtually certain that American troops will be replaced in Viet Nam by some international peacekeeping machinery following a cease-fire. But it would be unrealistic to expect that the U.S. military presence in other parts of the area will be replaced by some international force, nor can we count on a rapid build-up of some system of regional collective security sufficient to deter communist subversion. Under these conditions, any early withdrawal of the American military presence elsewhere than from Viet Nam is sure to prolong turmoil in the area and may even endanger the implementation of whatever Vietnamese agreement has been signed; and this in turn would risk ushering in a serious international crisis.
To say that the United States should keep a military presence in the area does not mean necessarily that it should continue its present policies; on the contrary, in the climate created by a Viet Nam settlement there will be opportunities to undertake new positive actions to complement the policy of containment and to make this policy, in time, less and less necessary. Although there are many variations, the alternatives for American policy can be grouped into three broad lines:
1. To withdraw from Southeast Asia, leaving it to Chinese influence.
2. To continue a military presence, complementing it with economic aid to non-communist countries in order to strengthen their capacity to resist communist internal subversion.
3. To encourage the diversification of external influences in Southeast Asia and regional coöperation among the countries of the area, leading toward a system of collective security and a policy of coexistence.
The first alternative, withdrawing from Southeast Asia, will probably be unacceptable to the great majority of Americans in the light of all the efforts and sacrifices made in defending South Viet Nam. In addition, the political victory which this would mean for Communist China might result in a wild struggle between the Soviet Union and China for control of the world communist movement, with unpredictable results regarding the position of each toward the West.
The second alternative—military alliance coupled with economic aid—risks being adopted as a result of inertia. To work out a new constructive solution would require time, patience and imagination. Faced with a long and consistent effort, the United States might fall back into an easier line of policy. Pressure from Southeast Asian anti-communist governments and the tendency to react directly to communist moves would encourage this trend. Also, if the likely détente with the Soviet Union occurs once the war in Viet Nam is over, there will be an increased chance of maintaining a status quo through parallel U.S. and Soviet moves. Such a policy would work only if the military buildup were continued, and it would be at the risk of some new military involvements. It would not lead to the progressive removal of tensions in Southeast Asia or improve the chances of coexistence. As China's economic and military capabilities grow, it might even lead ultimately to a very tense situation.
The third alternative has already been enunciated in broad principles by President Johnson in his address at the Johns Hopkins University, April 7, 1965. The favorable public reaction to this speech would indicate wide public support for this option. It represents, to my mind, the best course, but there are many difficult obstacles in the way of implementing it, as the following pages will indicate.
We have seen that a settlement in Viet Nam could end a phase of hot confrontation in Southeast Asia but that it would not remove the cause of tensions. Existing elements of domestic instability would remain, and so would the external factors that make the area a field of intense international competing interests. But although the end of the war would thus be essentially in the nature of a cease-fire, it could provide a starting point in a long-range effort to bring peace to the area by promoting regional cooperation. This could contribute to stability and decrease tensions through the following long-term actions:
1. Accelerate economic development by removing a number of limitations at present hampering economic growth.
2. Gradually eliminate internal factors that create tension and domestic conflicts.
3. Diversify the Asian forms of communism, thereby promoting peaceful coexistence.
Although most of the countries of Southeast Asia are not over-populated and ratios of man to land are relatively favorable (compared with India, China and Japan), they have been unable to diversify their economies. They have had to continue developing their agriculture in patterns set during colonial times, concentrating on producing subsistence foods and a few primary products. Industrialization has been restricted to relatively simple industries which are not competitive. Malaysia and Thailand have been able to maintain a satisfactory rate of economic growth (above 5 percent), but even there the present rate will be difficult to maintain without fundamental breakthroughs. The fact that the countries are small and their markets limited has been a main handicap in their development of basic industries. In addition, none of them can afford to establish the network of technical facilities necessary to train the many kinds of foremen and specialized workers needed for embarking on a general course of industrialization. Neither are they able to develop the research centers necessary to sustain rapid economic growth.
All these factors show that regional integration is necessary for the area's rapid growth. Not only will the development of markets across national frontiers enable the countries to acquire new regional specializations, but the enlarged regional market also will help them toward specialization in the world market. Further, development of the industrial sector will create a market for new agricultural products and thus diversify agriculture. Regional coöperation will in addition facilitate the buildup of training facilities to provide the cadres and the skills to feed the industrial process and the research facilities to support self-sustained growth. The first steps in that direction will create new economic prospects, thus improving the political climate; and the improvement of the political climate will in turn improve the economic prospects.
It is also possible that extreme nationalistic feelings will be tempered as a sense of Asian solidarity develops. National leaders will be less tempted to escalate small incidents into major crises since the severance of relations would cause significant economic disturbances for the countries involved. Finally, the problem of minorities will be less acute in a regional context than in a single country where one ethnic group is preponderant. For example, cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia will be less difficult in a regional framework than when discussed on a bilateral basis.
In the case of Viet Nam, Vietnamese communists and non-communists would find coöperation more acceptable in a broad Southeast Asian context than if they were left to face each other inside national boundaries. The participation of a communist North Viet Nam and a non-communist South in a Southeast Asian common market might even render some form of confederation possible.
Hanoi's willingness to enter into serious negotiations to terminate the war may itself depend on some prospect of broad regional coöperation, for the North faces very narrow choices at present. Negotiations as of now might leave North Viet Nam either in regional isolation facing her huge Chinese neighbor or forced to rely on trade and other forms of partnership with her immediate neighbors who, except for Cambodia, are presently under U.S. influence. In such circumstances Hanoi would have to depend on U.S. faith and good will. Hanoi's dilemma would be relieved if it could have some assurance that the end of the war would lead to a form of regional coöperation not dominated by U.S. political influence.
Thus the prospect for regional coöperation and the hope for a settlement in Viet Nam seem linked together in a kind of vicious circle. The chances for regional coöperation appear remote so long as the war in Viet Nam continues; and the chances for a settlement of the war would be increased if regional coöperation became more feasible.
The idea of Southeast Asian regionalism has been hailed with enthusiasm and has encountered skepticism. The obstacles indeed appear formidable. There is no historic precedent for regional organization in the area; in fact its history is a long succession of bloody disputes that even the common threat of invasions from powerful neighbors to the North or the East was unable to end. Cultures and religions are almost as varied as the ethnic groups; languages are numerous. In addition, the economies are competitive since they often produce and export the same primary products. Political structures range from democracies to military dictatorships and from free- enterprise societies to socialism; political attitudes range from communism to neutralism and anti-communism. Nationalism appears so strong and power groups in many countries are so entrenched that any encroachment on national sovereignty in favor of regionalism seems hardly possible.
Despite these handicaps, a trend toward regional coöperation is clearly discernible. It started with the upsurge of nationalism and the end of colonial rule. Shortly after Burma regained her independence, the Burmese leader Aung Sang proposed an Asian "Potsdam Conference" and the formation of an Asian commonwealth with India as one entity, China another and Southeast Asia a third. Within this frame he proposed an economic union of Burma, Indonesia, Thailand, Indochina and Malaya. The attempt ended with Aung Sang's death. In the late forties and early fifties, several attempts were made by Thailand to arrange conferences to discuss a Southeast Asian union. When Malaya became independent, Tunku Abdul Rahman became a proponent of a Southeast Asian common market. Prince Sihanouk, despite shaky relations with his neighbors, did on several occasions refer to a Southeast Asian or an Indochinese common market as a solution to the political tensions of the area. Even in the midst of the dispute over the formation of Malaysia, there were discussions among Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines about the feasibility of "Maphilindo" as a possible solution to their differences. Finally, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand established in 1961 the Association of Southeast Asia for mutual economic, cultural, educational and other non-military purposes.
If these first attempts did not lead to any practical results, there also have been a few success stories. The establishment of Malaysia is a case in point, despite the subsequent withdrawal of Singapore. The Mekong River project is another of great significance. The four countries involved— Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and South Viet Nam—situated in the most troubled part of Southeast Asia, decided in 1957, in spite of their political differences, to coöperate in harnessing one of the world's major rivers and to do so along lines of common interest, This coöperation has survived many disputes among them, and wars in two of them, despite the fact also that the preliminary studies strained their resources and the immediate returns were almost negligible. Thus it appears that parallel to the awakening of nationalistic feelings there has grown up an aspiration toward Southeast Asian solidarity.
Is effective regional coöperation really possible? In the immediate postwar period, when France and the Benelux countries were still wary of Germany, the chances of their associating closely with her seemed as remote as coöperation between the Southeast Asian countries seems under present conditions. The assumption that there was a greater political maturity in the European countries than in Southeast Asia does not stand critical examination. Examples of irresponsible decisions that shook the Common Market to its foundations are not lacking; it is only because the cumulative process in time became irreversible that the Common Market is still alive and progressing slowly toward the final stage of integration. This contrasts with the behavior of the four Southeast Asian partners in the Mekong project; political clashes between them have abounded but no one of them threatened to "walk out."
Two factors are necessary to start the coöperative process: local initiative and external encouragement. Why did the Mekong project become operative while another, the Association of Southeast Asia, did not get under way? The difference seems to lie in the fact that the Mekong project aroused considerable international support and involved a disinterested third party, the United Nations, while A.S.A. was almost unnoticed and did not benefit from the presence of a disinterested arbitrator.
There undoubtedly does remain, nevertheless, a most serious handicap for Southeast Asian regionalism as compared with the European pattern: the international context. Whereas the European Economic Community was established by relatively like-minded countries, a Southeast Asian association would include at this stage both Western-oriented and nonaligned countries, with the prospect that a communist country, North Viet Nam, would also become a full partner or be associated in some way. Whether this obstacle can be overcome will depend largely on two factors: the cessation of hostilities in Viet Nam and the possibility of drawing in diversified assistance from outside under the aegis of an international body such as the United Nations. Already the Asian Development Bank established last year provides an example of a grouping of variously aligned countries.
I do not mean to suggest that some steps cannot be initiated before the end of hostilities in Viet Nam. On the contrary, any step taken now will increase confidence that regionalism can become a real force at the end of the war and thus improve the chances of a settlement itself by enlarging the alternatives for compromise open to the belligerents. Projects such as a regional university, common research centers and further steps in the implementation of the Mekong scheme (particularly if Cambodia and Laos are active in initiating them) could create a better political climate and help produce the conditions for a satisfactory Viet Nam settlement. An improvement in the relations of Thailand and South Viet Nam with Cambodia is a key to progress in this respect.
Diversification of external assistance to the region could also make a regional solution more feasible. Increasing use of the United Nations to channel assistance will demonstrate that the purpose of foreign aid is not to create political influence but to achieve regional peace and stability. Assistance programs should be designed to foster better relations among the countries. It would also be helpful if such countries as Japan and France would play a more important role in those programs.
To sum up: The chances of achieving regional coöperation in Southeast Asia are real and the contribution it would bring to a stable settlement in Viet Nam could be significant. It seems a necessary element in world stability and in helping to provide a process for the peaceful emergence of China as a world power. But the obstacles are not to be underestimated. A change in the political climate cannot be brought about overnight; what is involved is an evolution not over years but over decades. The United States has an enormous role to play in helping to promote this evolution in Southeast Asia; and to my mind the stake of the United States in its success is enormous also.
[i] In this article I define Southeast Asia as including Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, the Republic of Viet Nam (Saigon), the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam (Hanoi), Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. The insularity of the Philippines gives her a special situation compared to the continental countries. Indonesia is omitted because both by her size and her insularity certain features of the present analysis do not apply to her.