Central Thailand, Feb. 9, 2015: officers from 24 countries at the opening ceremony for the yearly Cobra Gold multilateral military exercises, the largest drills of the kind in Southeast Asia (photo: dpa)

An American perspective on intersecting interests in the Asia-Pacific

The Asia Pacific region can be geopolitically conceived as three intersecting circles of national interests. Circle one comprises the United States and its treaty allies – Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore. Circle two contains the countries in the region most closely aligned with the People’s Republic of China – North Korea, its sole treaty relationship in the region; Cambodia, Burma and Laos. Circle three encompasses the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Laos, Burma and Cambodia.

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 Walter Lohman
The distinguishing interests of the ASEAN circle include national autonomy, economic development and regional peace. It was to secure these interests that Southeast Asian countries first banded together in 1967. Indeed, ASEAN did serve during the Cold War (1947 – 1991) to resist the push of international communism
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