Southeast Asia faces hard choices. The region’s most powerful organization, ASEAN, is being challenged to ensure security and encourage democracy while simultaneously reinventing itself as a model of Asian regionalism.
Should ASEAN’s leaders defend a member country’s citizens against state predation for the sake of justice—and risk splitting ASEAN itself? Or should regional leaders privilege state security over human security for the sake of order—and risk being known as a dictators’ club? Should ASEAN isolate or tolerate the junta in Myanmar? Is democracy a requisite to security, or is it the other way around? How can democratization become a regional project without first transforming the Association into a “people centered” organization? But how can ASEAN reinvent itself along such lines if its member states are not already democratic?
How will its new Charter affect ASEAN’s ability to make these hard choices? How is regionalism being challenged by transnational crime, infectious disease, and other border-jumping threats to human security in Southeast Asia? Why have regional leaders failed to stop the perennial regional “haze” from brush fires in democratic Indonesia? Does democracy help or hinder nuclear energy security in the region?
In this timely book—the second of a three-book series focused on Asian regionalism—ten analysts from six countries address these and other pressing questions that Southeast Asia faces in the twenty-first century.
Donald K. Emmerson is Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. He is active as an analyst of current policy issues involving Asia. In 2010 the National Bureau of Asian Research and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars awarded him a two-year Research Associateship given to “top scholars from across the United States” who “have successfully bridged the gap between the academy and policy.”
In this delightful volume, a diverse, fresh, and talented group of authors shed new light on Southeast Asia and speak engagingly to wider scholarly questions. Emmerson's introduction sets the tone for an unusually creative edited collection.
In Hard Choices, Donald Emmerson has brought together a remarkable group of leading young scholars to write on Southeast Asian regionalism from political-security, economic, and sociological perspectives. His introductory chapter defines the dimensions of regionalism on which the other contributors elaborate in a series of fine essays examining ASEAN’s past, present, and alternative futures. Hard Choices is a landmark study that will be consulted for years to come by scholars and practitioners. Highly recommended.