In This Review

Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order
Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order
By Amitav Acharya
Routledge, 2001, 234 pp
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Composed of states with diverse cultures and little in the way of shared histories and traditions, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been the developing world's most successful regional organization, according to this book. Acharya traces in detail the evolution of the "ASEAN way," which stresses consensus, informal rather than legalistic approaches to problem solving, and noninterference in the internal affairs of others. ASEAN leaders could indulge in considerable self-congratulation as long as there was little cause for tension within the group. But the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, followed by ASEAN'S expansion to include Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, have severely tested the durability of the "ASEAN way." Moreover, the conflicting territorial problems in the South China Sea have required legal considerations, while ASEAN'S blind eye to Myanmar's internal repression has put it out of step with much of the world, including the European Union. Despite his sympathies for ASEAN, even Acharya has to conclude that the organization seriously needs "to reinvent itself."