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ASA and ASEAN, 1961-1967: Southeast Asian Regionalism

Author(s): Vincent K. Pollard


Source: Asian Survey, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Mar., 1970), pp. 244-255
Published by: University of California Press
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ASA AND
ASEAN,
1961-1967:
SOUTHEAST ASIAN
REGIONALISM
/ Vincent K. Pollard*
7he comparatively short but turbulent political development of the As-
sociation of Southeast Asia (ASA) from July 1961 through August 1967
provides an excellent opportunity to understand how a subregional pattern
of alliance, apparently "promising" in terms of publicly stated
objectives,
can often fail to meet those objectives in the context of Sino-American re-
lations. The development of ASA up until the launching of the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in August 1967 also affords examples
of how the policy makers within these Southeast Asian international organi-
zations relate to the American foreign policy objective of "containing" China.
The central, but not exclusive, focus of this study relates the notion of
regionalism promoted by ASA and ASEAN to the ideological thrust of the
organizations' declared foreign policy. These aspects, in turn, are related
to the frequency and nature of the American perception of these organiza-
tions. The paper does not attempt to take into account developments subse-
quent to August 1967. The focus will be on an examination of the individual
and collective self-perception of the ASA and ASEAN states, as revealed
through their public diplomacy, and related to (1) contemporary events
and (2) their varying perceptions of the two major national bloc actors in
East and Southeast Asia-China and the U.S. We will thereby tentatively
suggest the major political meanings ASA and ASEAN assumed in the re-
spective foreign policies of the several ASA states.
SOURCES AND MOTIVATIONS FOR ASA
ASA originally included the former Federation of Malaya, the Philippines,
and Thailand. The ideological alignment of these states with the West hap-
pens to serve as a continuing reference frame for explaining some of the
more significant variables encountered in ASA's history of expectation, dis-
appointment, stalemate, and self-subsumation.
*1 would like to express my appreciation to Norton Ginsburg and Tang Tsou of the
University of Chicago for their comments and suggestions. Responsibility for the views
expressed is entirely mine.
244
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VINCENT K. POLLARD 245
Initially both the U.S. and China barely acknowledged ASA's existence
in their foreign policy statements, which suggests that either (1) from China's
point of view, it was difficult or pointless to distinguish ASA activities from
SEATO activities, particularly after Peking's denunciation of an abortive
prototype of ASA in the proposed Southeast Asian Friendship and Eco-
nomic Treaty,' and/or (2) ASA's politico-economic potential for strengthen-
ing the Western bloc was greatly underestimated by the U.S.
The Charter of the Association of Southeast Asia, more commonly known
as the Bangkok Declaration of July 31, 1961,2 suggested to a number of
observers that Malaya, the Philippines, and Thailand were on the verge of
a "new era of awakening" and of real economic cooperation in Southeast
Asia. One could, of course, develop a selected list of indications that a sub-
regional organization such as ASA would be a viable economic alliance even
in a political atmosphere chilled by cold war tensions the renewal of "armed
struggle" in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. For example, the
Philippines, Malaya, and Thailand had, respectively, the three highest rates
of growth in Southeast Asia by 1960, and together they produced half the
world's tin, rubber, and coconut oil.
Implicit and Explicit Goals
of
ASA: Despite the real predisposition
for meaningful regional and subregional economic cooperation the two
SEATO-aligned future members of ASA prematurely "overplayed their hand
and disclosed the true goals of ASA." For example, a remark attributed to
General Thanom Kittikachorn, Defense Minister of Thailand,
on the eve
of the signing of the Bangkok Declaration, intimated that while the ASA
states were to develop cultural and economic programs during the early
stage of the organization, this stage or level of cooperation should quickly
be replaced by or subordinated to a coordination of military policies.3
During the July 1961 sessions of the preliminary working group of what
would become ASA, it was reported from Manila that:
If Philippine proposals are followed, the Association would provide
for the following: 1. preferential trade agreements among members;
2. free trade in certain commodities; 3. lowering of tariffs; 4. easing of
customs rules and procedures; 5. standardization and control of ex-
ports; 6. joint business venture; and 7. cooperation in commercial avia-
tion and shipping.4
1" 'Neutral' Malaya," reprinted from "A So-Called Neutral State," Jen-min Jih-pao,
March 12,1961, in Peking Review, March 17, 1961, p. 13.
2For official text, cf. Thailand, "Economic and Social Cooperation in the Association
of Southeast Asia." Official Yearbook, 1964 (Bangkok: 1964), pp. 124-125.
3Hugo Durant, "ASA-Prospects and Results," Eastern World, Vol. XVII (August
1963), p. 12. However, a careful check of the Bangkok Post for July-August, 1961, un-
covers no reference to Thanom's remark.
'Straits Echo and Times of Malaysia (Penang), July 21, 1961, p. 4.
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246 SOUTHEAST ASIAN REGIONALISM
These proposals suggested a lessened Philippine dependence on the U.S. and
may have been intended to give Asian states a new Philippine posture to
evaluate.'
A different perspective was given by an American political commentator
who saw ASA as politically subordinate to U.S. interests in East and South-
east Asia:
They may have taken another first vital step toward the consolidation
of all the defense arrangements of the Far East, from Japan to New
Zealand, into a single sort of Pacific NATO, able to concert its defense
efforts effectively. Such a consolidation could be the greatest victory
for freedom since the creation of NATO back in 1949.6
While not striking precisely the same mechanical notion of "containment,"
Thailand's Minister of Foreign
Affairs,
Thanat
Khoman,
three months later
characterized the relationship between ASA's economic plans and its anti-
Communist tenor more subtly:
. . . to the extent that we achieve political, economic and social progress
at home, we strengthen our ability to withstand political subversion,
economic penetration, and outright attempts at domination. At the same
time, we acquire the capacity to assist other countries and to participate
actively in the collective effort to expand the area of security and con-
tentment in the world.
In line with this two-fold concept, the Philippines ... has also joined
hands with its close friends and neighbors, Malaya and Thailand, in a
cooperative venture for mutual assistance in the economic social and
scientific fields through the establishment of the Association of South-
east Asia.... This strictly non-political organization is taking the first
modest step towards what we believe to be an essential and inevitable
development, already foreshadowed in other areas of the world, namely,
the augmentation of national efforts by freely agreed and mutually bene-
ficial modes of regional cooperation.7
The July 31, 1961, Bangkok Declaration was an executive agreement
signed by Thanat Khoman, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman of Ma-
laya, and the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Felixberto M. Serrano.
WZhile the contents were formally nonideological, the context was not. The
'Straits Times (Singapore), August 1, 1961, p. 1. Cf. also Straits Echo and Times of
Malaysia, July 28, 1961, p. 4, for Felixberto Serrano's response to the neutralist nations
which had declined to join ASA. Cf. "len-min Jih-pao Commentator Tells U.S. to Get
Out of Philippines," New China News Agency (English), December 30, 1964, in U.S.
Consulate-General, Hong Kong, Survey of China Mainland Press, No. 3370, pp. 36-37.
'Edgar Ansel Mowrer, "New Asian Agreement Will Help Stop Reds," in "Extension
of Remarks of Walter H. Judd," Congressional Record, 87th Cong., 1st Sess., p. A6518.
7"Statements by His Excellency, Mr. Thanat Khoman, Leader of the Delegation of
Thailand, Made During the Colombo Plan Meeting held at Kuala Lumpur in November
1961," SEA TO Record, I (February 1962), p. 11.
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VINCENT K. POLLARD 247
Preface exalted "the ideals of peace, freedom, social justice and economic
well-being," and urged a new beginning for "common action to further
economic and social progress in Southeast Asia," but the three-point docu-
ment merely announced the establishment of ASA, the seven general cate-
gories of cooperation, and a disclaimer of any connection "with any outside
power bloc" and an assertion that it was "directed against no countries of
Southeast Asia . . presumably including North Vietnam.
On August 1, the foreign Ministers of Thailand, Malaya, and the Philip-
pines issued another ASA document which summarized the organization's
aims and specific plans.9 The two initial documents represent a probing re-
sponse to the unenthusiastic reaction provoked by the original "trial bal-
loons" for a regional economic pact. While statements of individual ASA
Foreign Ministers were at variance with the non-alignment professed in the
Bangkok Declaration, that document reflects an awareness that close associa-
tion with U.S. foreign policy, especially on anti-Communism and China,
would undermine any chance left for ASA's expansion into a larger, more
genuinely regional grouping. But after July 1961 it may have been too late
for this tactic to be effective.
The goals proposed in the Bangkok Declaration were such that few na-
tions in the region could or would argue against their desirability, even if
outright cooperation was not forthcoming, but the decidedly pro-Western
connections of the three member-states could not be overlooked. On the first
day of the Bangkok Conference, Prime Minister Rahman of Malaya at-
tempted to link cooperation between ASA and similar groups to the concept
of non-alignment and the contradictory political goals implied thereby:
'. . . As we have stated, many times before, this organization is in no
way intended to be an anti-Western bloc or an anti-Eastern bloc, or for
that matter, a political bloc of any kind. It is not connected in any way
with any of the organizations which are in existence today; it is purely
a Southeast Asian Economic and Cultural Cooperation Organization
[a proposed name for what becomes ASA] and has no backing what-
soever from any foreign source. It is in fact, in keeping with the spirit,
and is in furtherance of the purpose and the principles of the United
Nations.10
In early 1963, Rahman castigated as shortsighted the Southeast Asian re-
jections of ASA-type regionalism, characterizing them as retrogressive over-
reactions to the respective states' histories of colonialism.'1 At the same time,
8"Bangkok Declaration Establishing ASA," Official Test, Bangkok Post, August 1,
1961,
pp.
1 and 4.
'Bangkok Post, August 2, 1961, pp. 1 and 14.
10Bangkok Post, July 31, 1961, p. 1. For a different interpretation see "ASA and
Neutrals," Manila Times, p. 4-A, and also "The Three Jugglers" Far Eastern Economic
Review, XXXIII (August 3, 1961), p. 199.
"1The Times (London), April 3,1963, p. 11
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248 SOUTHEAST ASIAN REGIONALISM
however, he chose to softpedal the key role he had played in 1959 in the
abortive Southeast Asian Friendship and Economic Treaty (SEAFET) 12
Despite ASA's concerted stress on the non-political character of the alli-
ance, one commentator noted laconically that "most of the neighboring
countries preferred to remain silent observers.'3 When Lee Kuan Yew,
Prime Minister of Singapore, was in New Delhi in 1962, skepticism was ex-
pressed over "Mr. Lee's belief that SEATO members in ASA can break
themselves away immediately from the military pact." The skeptics' mis-
givings were well-founded.
Malaysia's response to the increased attention paid to the politicization
or alignment of ASA was to stress economic gaols, pure and simple, in its
foreign policy statements. It characterized the negative Indonesian response,
for example, as a smear tactic.14 Similarly, despite defense arrangements
with the United Kingdom, Kuala Lumpur felt compelled in late 1963 to
claim that it was "not a member of any military bloc and not involved
in any regional collective defence arrangement."'5
However, these public protestations of "neutrality" neither attracted new
members to ASA nor forestalled subsequent difficulties among the ASA
states. As already suggested, the earlier Chinese campaign against SEAFET
probably succeeded rather well. A July 1961 news release from Manila
indicated for example, that the ASA Foreign Ministers were acutely aware
that their pro-Western alignment would lessen the chances for the organiza-
tion's expansion.'6
The development described above set the tone and the climate for a fur-
ther series of events which involved two ASA states and provoked various
reactions. The outcome effectively disrupted ASA's new economic and cul-
tural proposals as well as its incipient technical, economic, social and cul-
tural programs.
In 1963 the Philippines renewed its century-old claim to North Borneo
(Sabah) in response to the formation of Malaysia. Manila saw the expansion
of the Federation of Malaya as an unfriendly attempt to consolidate the
remnants of the United Kingdom's former possessions in Southeast Asia.
There was a strong anti-Chinese and anti-Communist element involved also,
and attention was drawn to the fact that the Chinese would constitute the
largest minority (est. 41%) in the new Malaysia. The Philippine's non-
recognition of Malaysia, exacerbated by Indonesia's resumption of its Kon-
"2Bernard K. Gordon, Dimensions of Conflict in Southeast Asia (Englewood Cliffs,
N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966), pp. 165-66.
"3M. P. Gopalan, "The Launching of ASA," Far Eastern Economic Review XXXIII
(September 21, 1961), p. 551.
"Dato Muhammed Ghazali bin Shafie. Malaysia in Afro-Asia, Speech by the Perma-
nent Secretary for External Affairs, Malaysia, to the Consular Corps in Singapore, on
November 26, 1964, (1965), p. 8.
"Malaysia, Department of Information, Malaysia In Brief (Knala Lumpur: Tai Than
Fong Press, 1963, 1964), p. 116.
"Straits Echo and Times of Malaya, July 28, 1961, p. 4.
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VINCENT K. POLLARD 249
Irontasi campaign against Malaysia, produced a stalemate in ASA that lasted
almost three years. It was only on June 1, 1966, that an agreement was
reached between Indonesia and Malaysia ending the
Konfrontasi.
A formal
Peace Agreement was signed in Djakarta on August 11, 1966.
The Philippine government's decision to press its claim to Sabah so em-
phatically in the early 1960's may have been a manifestation of a burgeoning
desire to alter one tendency in foreign policy that had been an obstacle to
the expansion of ASA membership: that is, how to distinguish its anti-
Communist policies from its real links to the West. The Philippines was
less than enthusiastic about being regarded by their neighbors as a "South-
east Asian subsidiary," of the U.S., as exemplified by the presence of U.S.
military establishments and personnel in the Philippine Islands. Manila
probably anticipated Washington's extreme lack of enthusiasm over its claim
to Sabah which could only serve to divide the loyalties of nations already
aligned with the West. Further, if the claim to Sabah is regarded as evidence
of a growing drive toward self-assertion vis-a-vis the U.S. rather than a sub-
sidiary form of imperialism, then Manila's actions assume added meaning
in the light of the expected phasing out in 1972 of such forms of dependency
as special trade concessions.
Prior to the preliminary sessions of the Second ASA Foreign Ministers'
Meeting in April 1962, Tunku Abdul Rahman had issued a statement indi-
cating "that it was the intention of the ASA countries - . . to show the world
that the peoples of Asia could think and plan for themselves."'7 ASA, which
went to such lengths to posture as a non-political-i.e., non-aligned-and
"solely economic" organization, foundered through its first two years al-
though not necessarily because it was inspired and guided by political and
ideological considerations. Rather a lack of attention to national and bloc
considerations that shape the structure of international politics in the region
probably impeded the development of a larger number of joint regional
economic ventures.
Revival and Response, 1964-1966: The U.S. paid considerably more
public attention to ASA during 1964-1966 than it had the preceding three
years. ASA's potential for "containing China," had probably been over-
estimated by policy makers. As a result, U.S. foreign policy statements had
virtually ignored the lack of "spectacular successes" by ASA in the region.
But there is no evidence to suggest that the ASA states were discouraged
from maintaining their subreional anti-China posture, either as abstract
anti-Communism or as a heightened concern, for example, over their Chinese
minorities.
The lack of overt American interest in ASA during the 1961-63 period
was partly a reflection of the greater concern over developments in Vietnam.
But it is also possible that Washington had tentatively concluded that ASA
was not particularly germane to the achievement of U.S. foreign policy goals
"Straits Echo and Times of Malaya (Penang), April 4, 1962, p. 1.
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250 SOUTHEAST ASIAN REGIONALISM
in East Asia. This may explain why there were so few public statements from
the United States, which in any case would have had to explain away (and
thereby publicize) the internal dissension and the failures of ASA in South-
east Asia. Between January
1964,
and August 31, 1967, ASA's relationship
to a "loose bipolar" international system was articulated more clearly and
more often by both ASA and the U.S., the major actor in the Western bloc.
In the content of the escalating politico-military conflict in Southeast Asia,
the U.S. came to regard ASA as of increasing importance to the interests
of the Western bloc in Southeast Asia.
The nature of the conflict in Southeast Asia suggests two further questions
regarding ASA: 1) Did the U.S. see ASA as a curious obversion of China's
"principle of self-reliance" for the carrying out of People's War, and 2)
did U.S. statements about ASA seem to encourage or condition any specific
ASA response? An examination of the major developments in ASA during
1964-1966 reveals no clear-cut answer to either of these questions. What does
emerge clearly is that the expressed U.S. foreign policy on ASA's relation-
ship to a desirable regionalism in Southeast Asia did reinforce the public
expression of the organization's pro-Western ideological alignment.
Although President Johnson made no reference to ASA in his April 1965
Johns Hopkins Speech, he evidently felt that, in general, expanded eco-
nomic cooperation among U.S.-aligned Southeast Asian nations was in the
interests of the U.S. This was in no way inconsistent with the massive U.S.
military involvement in the region or with the escalation of the war. Contain-
ment of China, as will be seen, had not become a hoary cliche, but was to be
fleshed out and supplemented in ways more sensitive to the immediate cir-
cumstances.
The subsequent temporary revival of ASA, formalized at the 1966 meeting
of the ASA Standing Committee in Bangkok, has been attributed to the "pa-
tient diplomacy" of Thailand's Thanat Khoman,'8 the most vocally anti-
Communist ASA foreign minister. On January 3, 1966, he was reported to
have stated that the newly-elected Philippine President Marcos had indicated
that Manila would move to recognize Malaysia.19 However, the Philippines
stalled at this point when it became clear that too speedy
a
recognition might
trigger a renewal of Indonesia's Konfrontasi policy.20
At the March 2, 1966, meeting of the ASA Standing Committee, the Thai,
Malaysian, and Philippine
officials in attendance decided to reactivate the
Joint Working Party of ASA. At the subsequent ASA Ministerial Meeting
in late April 1966, Thanat Khoman called for an Asian attempt to end the
Vietnam War. He
may have hoped thereby to arouse greater
interest in
18"ASA and ASPAC," 1967 Yearbook (Hong Kong: Far Eastern Economic Review,
1967), p. 65.
"9Amando Doronila, "Khoman on Vietnam, Sabah, ASA Revival," Manila Times, Janu-
ary 3, 1966, p. 14-A.
20Thanakan Krungthep Chamkat, "The Southeast Asian milieu," Monthly Review,
(Bangkok Bank Ltd.), March 1966, p. 96.
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VINCENT K. POLLARD 251
ASA on the part of neutralist Southeast Asian states since "ending the war"
meant different things to different parties. If this was his intention, he failed,
for his call did not disassociate itself from American foreign policy in
Southeast Asia, nor was he assisted by the ASA governments' repetition of
the U.S. position on regionalism. Thanat's statement is illuminating:
Malaysia and Thailand are ready to have full participation in ASA.
The relevance of the ASA to the Vietnam conflict is that its members
should look to [ASA] as a significant attempt to collaborate and
strengthen themselves internally while the Vietnam situation awaits
political solution. The success of the ASA will have a great deal to do
with the long-range efforts of our countries for a peaceful future in this
region. We cannot wait until peace is restored in Vietnam. We think
that ASA is only the starting point. It is bound to develop, grow and
spread.... It is difficult to divorce economics from politics.21
Bangkok's understanding of this particular relationship between regional
economic programs and politics was further clarified in a joint statement by
U.S. Vice-President Humphrey and Thai Prime Minister Thanom Kittaka-
chorn:
The Prime Minister concurred with the principle underlying the Decla-
ration of Honolulu: that the war in Southeast Asia must be waged on
two fronts simultaneously-the military front and the strugggle to im-
prove the social, economic, and physical well-being of the people.
... ......................... ............................ .......................... ............................. ... . ... ....... .. ....... ..................
It was agreed that organizations such as the Association of South-
east Asia could play a valuable role in fostering new cooperative in-
stitutions and stimulating the ideas that would make dramatic economic
transformations possible.22
In an address to the influential Council of Foreign Relations in New York
on May 24, 1966, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk used ASA as an ex-
ample of how Western-aligned Southeast Asian nations could begin to do
for themselves what the United States had been trying to do overtly for
some time and by itself.23 Prime Minister Rahman of Malaysia was reported
to have proposed an expansion of ASA to include Indonesia, Burma, South
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Singapore. This was publicized after the
exchange of notes on the normalization of full diplomatic relations between
the Philippines and Malaysia on June 3, 1966.24 On this occasion, the Thai
21Doronila, op. cit.
22"Vice President Reviews Asian Problems with Thai Premier," (text of joint com-
munique released in Bangkok on February 15), Department of State Bulletin, LIV
(March 14, 1966), pp. 396-397.
23"Organizing the Peace for Man's Survival," ibid., LIV (March 14, 1966), 933.
2"Malaysia, Department of Information, Malaysia at a Glance (Kuala Lumpur: Life
Printers, 1967), p. 37. The "Agreement to Normalize Relations Between the Republic
of Indonesia and Malaysia" was signed at Djakarta on August 11, 1966 (Foreign Affairs
Malaysia, I, no. 3, pp. 1-2).
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252 SOUTHEAST ASIAN REGIONALISM
Prime Minister
suggested
in a message to the Philippine Secretary of Foreign
Affairs that this agreement should provide the basis for resumption of pre-
vious ASA programs.25
What began to emerge in the 1961-66 period was a pattern of alternating
emphasis on, first, the domestic, economic aspects of ASA and, second,
ASA's intermeshing with the West's program to "contain China." Shortly
after the August 1964 Tonkin Bay Joint Resolution, Philippine Congress-
man Cornelio Villareal described ASA's role as an extension of the South-
east Asia Treaty Organization:
Our collaboration did not stop with this military alliance. We know
that the greatest bulwark against any tyranny threatening our way of
life is a contented people . . . living at peace with neighbors. Thus, the
leaders of our two countries and Malaya met and signed. . . the agree-
ment which brought about. . . the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA),
aimed at providing economic, social, cultural, and administrative col-
laboration among the three counties concerned.26
To follow up the meeting of ASA's Joint Working Party, the Standing
Committee met for the third time in Bangkok on July 25, 1966. A Special
Joint Working Party meeting was held on July 27, and the Foreign Minis-
ters' meeting on August 3-5. Rahman felt it necessary to stress again that
ASA "was not aimed against anyone" [his emphasis].27 Tun Razak of
Malaysia later emphasized the same point.28 However, the three ASA foreign
ministers also discussed the Vietnam War, a matter beyond the publicly
defined scope of ASA's deliberations. They jointly issued the Bangkok
Peace Appeal of August 3, 1966, which called for recognition that the war
constituted "a grave threat to the peace and stability" of the region and
expressed the fear that political instability would undercut the possibility
for economic cooperation on a regional level.2
Apparently in order to avoid any mistaking of his meaning, Rahman
specified in late September 1966 that the
"grave
threat" came "from the
North." But whereas the Bangkok Peace Appeal had seemed to stress stop-
ping the Vietnam War in order to assist regional economic development,
Rahman now reversed the emphasis, saying that the surest way to meet the
25"PR-Malaysia Ties," SEATO Record, V (August 1966), p. 23.
20"Thai-Philippine Accord," Speech by the Honorable Cornelio T. Villareal, Speaker
of the House of Representatives, Republic of the Philippines, at the banquet given in
his honor by the president of the Constituent Assembly of Thailand, August 24, 1964,
ibid.. IT (October 1964), p. 28.
27"Tunku's Message on the Occasion of the Fifth Anniversary of ASA," Foreign
Af.
fairs Malaysia, III, no. 1 (n.d.). p. 15.
a284Tun Razak's Speech at ASA Foreign Ministers Conference in Bangkok-3rd
August 1966," ibid., pp. 9-12.
29"Bangkok Peace Appeal," text in ibid, I, No. 3 (n.d.), pp. 12-13.
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VINCENT K. POLLARD 253
threat to Southeast Asia was to stabilize and strengthen the economy of every
country in the region.30 Rahman was not being inconsistent; both elements
were too tightly intertwined to be separated for long, but one or the other
could be emphasized, depending on the circumstances. Further, if Rahman's
expressed admission that ASA had yet to prove itself to its own members
is remembered, the emphasis on making ASA "succeed" becomes more ob-
viously grounded in his operational set of assumptions about China.
Secretary of State Rusk reiterated his earlier views on ASA and rec-
ognized its key role in the background to the October 1966 "All-Asian"
Conference on the Vietnam War-one of many attempts to "de-Americanize"
the war. He declared:
. . . We will see substantial advantage in the development among the
Asian nations themselves of systematic machinery for consultation on
political problems and security questions in which they are all involved.
We have been greatly encouraged by what has happened in the last
several months in just that sort of direction [, including] the recent
meeting of the ASA countries which led to the formal proposal by these
nations that there be an Asian Conference to take up the question of
Vietnam.3'
President Johnson expressed a similar viewpoint in Canberra32 and in
Kuala Lumpur33 during his Southeast Asian sojourn to and from the Manila
Conference.
EXPANSION AND CONCLUSION
The fundamental problem as preceived during 1961-1967 by the ASA
governments was their alignment with the Western bloc, possible exacerbated
by evidence of U.S. encouragement of the revival of the organization. Al-
though no ASA state openly repudiated their anti-China stance,
even the
July 31, 1967, Philippine-Malaysian attempt to stress the "non-political"
aspects of ASA34 was undermined by Thailand's more militaristic inter-
pretation of ASA to the region. However much Kuala Lumpur or Manila
may have interpreted Bangkok's position as a threat to the economic promise
of regionalism, their rebuttals were
indirect, hesitant, and could be inferred
only with difficulty.
With establishment of the ASEAN on August 8, 1967, Indonesia and
"0As summarized in "Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman's Views on the World
Situation-Southeast Asia," ibid., I (December 1966), pp. 48-49.
31"Secretary Rusk's News Conference of September 16," Department of State Bulletin,
IV (October 3, 1966), p. 480.
"2Lyndon B. Johnson, "Address at Parliament House, Canberra, October 21" ibid., LV
(November 29, 1966), 821.
33"Text of Remarks by President Johnson Delivered on October 30, 1966, at Parliament
House," Foreign Affairs Malaysia, I (December 1966), p. 106.
8"Cf. July 31, 1967, See President Marcos' statement of July 31, 1967, in Straits Times,
August 1, 1967, p. 20.
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254 SOUTHEAST ASIAN REGIONALISM
Singapore joined with the three ASA states in a more broadly regional
economic and cultural union. The ASEAN Declaration expressed motiva-
tions and purposes strikingly similar to those of ASA. One possible differ-
ence, however, was this passage which stated that:
... all foreign bases are temporary and remain only with the expressed
concurrence of the countries concerned and are not intended to be
used directly or indirectly to subvert the national independence and
freedom of states in the area or prejudice the orderly processes of their
national development; . . .35
While this seems to be a concession to Indonesia, it has also been noted that
any specific rejection of bloc-oriented collective arrangements is "conspicu-
ously absent from the ASEAN document."36 What this meant in August
1967 is not completely clear. According to a Singaporean interpretation,
Indonesia wished to make it clear that foreign bases on ASEAN territory
"detracted from the non-military nature of the group."37 On the other hand,
Djakarta may have sensed the compatibility of ASEAN with a possible pro-
Western regional defense organization.38
ASA was not to be dissolved unless its members were convinced that
ASEAN's viability was "firmly
established." The
advisability
of an
ASA/
ASEAN merger was considered, but at the August 29, 1967,
ASA
Foreign
Ministers' meeting it was decided
that, instead, several ASA programs would
be transferred to ASEAN immediately
in order to
prevent duplication of
activities and secure optimum use of available resources.
In spite of some bilateral cooperation
in ASA on
specific projects,
eco-
nomic programs were often best understandable in an ideological context.
To overemphasize the lack of cooperation among
ASA members in the
pursuit of regional economic cooperation is to miss ASA's
deeper political
significance. National and bloc interests overrode such considerations.
35ASEAN/DOC/1; this style of citation follows that of a typescript copy of the decla-
ration in this writer's possession, courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.
The text hereof can also be located, inter alia, in International Legal Materials, VI (No-
vember 1967), 1233-1235.
36"Welcome ASEAN," (editorial), Far Eastern Economic Review, LVII (August 17,
1967), p. 311.
"7Straits Times, August 8, 1967, p. 22.
38Cf. "Statement of Dr. Bernard K. Gordon," in U.S., House Committee on Foreign
Affairs, The Future United States Role in Asia and the Pacific, Hearings, before the Sub-
committee on Asian and Pacific Affairs 90th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 94-95 and 106-109.
Bernard K. Gordon, Southeast Asia Project Chairman for the Research Analysis Cor-
poration (RAG), further develops the rationale for U.S. encouragement of Southeast
Asian regional organizations in his Toward Disengagement in Asia; A Strategy for
American Foreign Policy, (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969). My approach
sharply differs from his analytical framework, as well as from the assumptions he brings
to his study.
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VINCENT K. POLLARD 255
While some ASA members occasionally asserted their "independence"
from the U.S., this was in no way envisioned as a break from the bloc. From
July 1961 to August
1967,
ASA provided a structure within which states
with similar ideological interests could cooperate, and hopefully without
provoking strong reactions from neutralist or Communist bloc states in the
region. The available evidence, also indicates that the U.S. views on ASA
and ASEAN do not represent a sharp break from the "containment of China"
strategy that has occupied the forefront of U.S. foreign policy objectives
for some two decades, but rather the outgrowth of a more sophisticated
understanding of the requirements for and constraints upon that policy. For
in the development of the attitude of U.S. policymakers toward "regional-
ism" and its logical
correlate,
"disengagement," can be found the ideological
underpinnings for a continued U.S. presence and involvement in East and
Southeast Asia during the next decade.
VINCENT K. POLLARD is a graduate student in the Department of Political Science
at the University of Chicago.
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