Southeast Asian alignments

By David Wurfel, University of Windsor.
in International Journal (Toronto), Vol. XXIX, No. 3 (Summer 1974).

A basic and persistent question in the study of foreign policy is whether internal or external determinants of output are to be regarded as more important. At best the answer has been recognized as a complex one, with many dependent clauses. But as scholars have come to incorporate the growing phenomenon now widely know as ‘transnational relations’ into their analyses,1 the answer has become even more difficult to phrase, for the very distinction between ‘internal’ and ‘external’ is blurred. Complex answers to hard questions are best handled by limiting the scope of the study. Concentration on a single issue-area or on states in a single geographical region may help to simplify the framing of an answer. In this paper I have chosen to narrow the focus in both of these ways. The policy output to be explained is politico-military alignment with the great powers and the states used for comparison are all in southeast Asia.

The region of southeast Asia was officially so christened by the Allied Command in World War II, though the term had already been in use by Dutch and Indian scholars. In fact, Japanese occupation was the first common and simultaneous experience for the peoples of Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. For nearly a generation neither scholars nor bureaucrats could agree on the region’s boundaries. By the mid-1960s, however, both diplomaticactivity in Asia and scholarly production in Europe and North America had helped create a consensus on definition of a region which the Chinese had called Nanyang for centuries. And since the end of colonialism there has been an increasing sense of regional identity among southeast Asian elites, culminating in the creation of the Association of South East Asian Nations (AsEAN) in 1966 – composed of the governments of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand – to promote economic, cultural, and some political co-operation.

The claims for a regional identity in southeast Asia cannot belie the fact that it is an area of great diversity where conflict is often more prominent than co-operation. Southeast Asia has suffered – and profited – from many waves of cultural, economic, and military penetration from China, India, and Japan, as well as the West. That special mixture of foreign penetration helps give the region its character. Nor has such penetration ceased. It is as true today as when Guy Pauker wrote in 1959 that ‘Southeast Asia’s role in world affairs will be the result of its weakness, not of its strength.’2 That weakness and that continued great-power penetration help provide a certain commonality to the context of southeast Asian foreign policies.


‘Penetration’ is a term first elaborated by James Rosenau.3 It has subsequently been subsumed under the broader categories of ‘linkage’ or ‘transnational’ politics. Rosenau regards penetration as a type of linkage process, that is, ‘a recurrent sequence of behavior’ that originates in one system and produces consequences in another. Penetration is distinguished from other linkages, he believes, because members of one polity participate authoritatively in the decision-making of another. Rosenau contends that eventhough the outsider’s participation is not accepted willingly, the decision in which he shares will be regarded as authoritative.4 Aside from the host of definitional problems which this point raises, it is doubtful whether in practice such legimitacy for decisions resulting from penetration really obtains, unless, of course, the non-member’s participation is in secret. What is curious in Rosenau’s formulation is that he makes no systematic distinction between penetration which is accepted voluntarily and that which is imposed. The German scholar Karl Kaiser, however, has created a special category of transnational interactions, ‘externally controlled penetration,’ which includes neo-colonialism, imperialism, and other asymetric relationships.5

Both Rosenau and Kaiser have defined terms which can be filled with varying content. Penetration can take economic, cultural, political, or military forms and may be utilized by fascist, democratic, or communist regimes. Surely the communist uprisings of the 1940s in Burma, Indonesia, and Malaya, as well as the creation of the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam, resulted from some degree of penetration. However, even establishment scholars in the United States are coming to recognize more fully the especially pervasive impact of American penetration overseas. No less an authority than Samuel Huntington remarked more than five years ago that ‘the impact which private economic groups have on the politics of undeveloped countries – far from just a Marxist myth – [is] … a high-priority item for any study of national-international linkages.6 Aside from American-owned corporations the major instrument of penetration has been theCentral Intelligence Agency. Allen Dulles, the Agency’s former director, has clearly warned us to be attentive: ‘We cannot safely limit our response to the Communist strategy of take-over solely to those cases where we are invited in by a government still in power, or even to instances where a threatened country has first exhausted its own, possibly meager, resources in the “good fight” against Communism. We ourselves must determine when, where and how to act …’7

Our particular concern is with penetration which helps determine foreign policy decisions within southeast Asia. This is a factor composed of both internal and external characteristics. Nevertheless the internal and external environments each remain distinct categories of analysis. Internal factors will include political culture, both elite and mass, social conditions, and governmental institutions.

One of the advantages of concentrating on a single region in a comparative study is that the external environment can be held relatively constant. To do that most convincingly we must, in fact, narrow the focus to three countries within the region: the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. Indochina, because it has been the cockpit of violent great-power confrontation has for some time experienced an international environment distinct from the rest of southeast Asia. Burma, unlike any other non-communist territory in the area has a border with China, which fact creates a very special context for Burmese foreign policy. Finally, Singapore and Malaysia can be distinguished from the other three members of ASEAN in at least three ways. Firstly, they are much smaller – one-fifteenth and one-third respectively of the population of the next largest country, Thailand – and size has been shown to be an important determinant in foreign policy relations. Secondly, they have become independent more recently, in 1957 and 1965, which does not allow comparison of the development of policy over the same twenty-five-year span. And finally, their economies enjoy a much higher per-capita GNP than do those in the rest of southeast Asia.

The Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia have all been similarly affected by great-power activities in southeast Asia over the past quarter-century, beginning with the withdrawal of the two colonial powers, France and the Netherlands, for which an expanding United States presence in the early 1950s compensated in part. The entry of the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union into the region in the mid-1950s – first as partners, then as rivals – was followed by British withdrawal in the early 1960s. The massive American intervention in Vietnam was a common environmental factor for all three, as was the American decision to scale down its southeast Asian involvement, announced by President Nixon in 1969, with troop withdrawal from Vietnam the first major expression of such a policy.

Though some regional leaders have interpreted the Nixon Doctrine as the abandonment of southeast Asia, American analysts of Nixon’s policy more often regard it as an attempt to pursue the same goals by less expensive means, a policy which may not be feasible.8 Whatever the intention, American influence in the region is likely to decline, if only because those who might have welcomed United States protection look at the desolation in Vietnam and regard the cost as too high. When, inevitably, the Thieu regime is displaced by communist forces, the advantages of an American commitment will seem even fewer.

Even prior to talk of American pullback in southeast Asia, Japanese economic activity was steadily expanding. There is evidence, as well, of a new Russian interest in the region, though it is not yet equal to that of the late 1950s. China seems to be assuming a more modest role for the moment – perhaps part of a bargain with Kissinger in return for United States troop withdrawal from Vietnam, or perhaps just the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution – but could become more assertive. In conclusion, great-power impact on southeast Asia in the 1970s is becoming more truly multipolar than ever before. The Americaneconomic, political, and military presence is still primary – more substantial, in fact, than before the Vietnam war – but the competition, from Japan and from the two quarrelling communist powers, is vigorous and growing, while United States influence is probably waning.


There are many ways of categorizing the foreign policy output of small and middle powers, the kind found in southeast Asia. (Only Indonesia could qualify as a middle power.) In fact, the availability of computer analysis has made it convenient for scholars to devote a great deal of attention to some dimensions of output that the diplomat would hardly find meaningful. There does seem to be easy agreement among scholars, diplomats – and journalists – of all stripes, however, on the primary importance of relations with the great powers, which we shall call alignment.

Let us first look at some statistical data which help us to compare the output of southeast Asian states and then describe each national policy with special attention to continuity and change.9

United Nations voting has long been regarded as an important forum for the expression of the foreign policies of small states. In fact, it is the only place that most such states have either the need or the opportunity to take a stand. First let us examine political/security and colonial questions (table 1). While the ranking of agreement with the United States was essentially the same for both types of resolutions, it is important to recognize that on political/security, or ‘cold-war; issues the degree of agreement with the USSR was much lower than on colonial issues. In fact, on the latter it is apparent that the USSR was supporting the Afro-Asian bloc, and not the reverse. The Philippines and Thailand, though still voting with the United States more than the otherthree states, even on colonial questions, maintained very different levels of agreement. The Philippines had experienced colonialism; Thailand had not.

Table 2 provides data on the most persistent Asian problem before the United Nations in the 1950s and 1960s, the seating of the People’s Republic of China. Of the states under consideration only Burma and the Philippines were perfectly consistent. On thefinal vote to seat Peking in 1971 Lon Nol’s Khmer Republic lined up with the Philippines in support of the United States; Laos, Singapore, and Malaysia joined Burma in the majority. Thailand and the Philippines explained their positions in almost identical terms: support for a two-China solution. But the Philippines voted against the winning resolution and Thailand abstained. Indonesia’s surprisingly low rate of agreement with the United States was the result of one abstention and two failures even to appear to be counted.

Table 1. Percentage of agreement with the United States and the USSR on political, security, and colonial questions in General Assembly votes, 1958-641

political & security colonial
Burma 64 41 95 20
Cambodia 59 44 81 20
Indonesia 68 35 95 16
Philippines 25 77 88 26
Thailand 23 87 72 43

* Percentages may total more than 100 since the superpowers occasionally agree, even if it is only to abstain.

SOURCE: Wynfred Joshua and Stephen P. Gibert, Arms for the Third World: Soviet Military Aid Diplomacy (Baltimore 1969),PP 142, 144.

Table 2 Percentage of agreement with the United States on Chinese representation issue in General Assembly votes

1955-9 1960-3 1965-8 1970-71
(5 votes) (5 votes) (8 votes) (4 votes)
Burma 0 0 0 1
Cambodia 25==*== 0 0 100
Indonesia 0 0 50==**== 25
100 100 100 100
100 100 100 75

*Member since 1956; ** out of UN in 1965; in 1970 Indonesia was absent at the time of the vote.

source: A.M. Halpern, ed, Policies Toward China: Views from Six Continents (New York 1965), and UN records.

The most traditional measurement of a small state’s great-power alignment has been membership in a military alliance or conclusion of a treaty. John Foster Dulles, with his flair for nineteenth-century diplomacy, devised such a treaty for southeast Asia in the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), but was only able to sign up the Philippines and Thailand. Since such different polities in the 1960s as Burma and South Vietnam, or Malaysia and Indonesia, were all outside SEATO, non-membership was not particularly descriptive of a state’s alignment. Thus military assistance agreements and the subsequent flow of munitions and equipment are more informative guides. Unfortunately any attempt at statistical comparison faces a wall of secrecy.10

Another traditional measure of alignment which is still valid is data on the location of a state’s diplomatic missions. The assumption is that communication, legitimized by diplomatic exchange, is more frequent with friends. In fact, the ranking of countries by percentage of missions in communist countries (table 3) correlates very closely with the ranking derived from the United Nations votes on the Chinese representation issue. Table 4 is a composite of all alignment data. The inconsistencies among scales and the change over time which this scale conceals will be discussed in connection with each national policy.

We have already alerted the reader to a particular concern with degrees of continuity and change in the output of particular countries. Let us now look at each country, its alignments, its policy persistence, and the evidence leading to an explanation for both. It would, perhaps, be appropriate to begin with the country most closely aligned with the United States.


The Philippines and Thailand have run neck and neck for years in the competition for most pro-American foreign policy in southeast Asia. It is on the basis of Philippine foreign policy in 1974 that it is discussed first. As of the late 1960s it appeared that Thailand was co-operating much more closely with the United States: not only was the Thai voting record in the United Nations somewhat closer to that of the United States, but Thai military involvement with the United States was more intimate. Whereas the Philippines had what was called a Civil Action Group in Vietnam (PHILCAG), Thailand had a combat division. American military aid was flowing much more rapidly to Thailand than to the Philippines, while nearly 50,000 American troops were located on Thai soil. Although United States base rights were more firmly entrenched in the Philippines, actual forces stationed there were fewer. And in 1970 President Marcos had asked for a complete renegotiation of the United States-Philippine Bases Agreement.11

Table 3 Foreign Policy Output: Distribution of Diplomatic Missions

1955-6 1960-1 1965-6 1971-2
average average average average
Burma total 14 24.5==*== 27 26
% w/communist states 28 20 26 27 (7)
Cambodia total 2 18.5==*== 15 15
% w/communist states o 29 46 13 (2)
Indonesia total 31.5 45.5 57 50
% w/communist states so 13 19 18 (9)
Philippines total
% w/communist states 0 0 0 0
Thailand total 20 44 51 39
% w/communist states 5 2 2 3 (1)

(n) no. of missions.

* one mission opened in second half of two-year period. SOURCE: Statesmen’s Yearbook.

Table 4 Alignment Scale (1 = closest to United States)

A (1955-70) B (1958-64) C (1955-72)
UN votes on China UN votes: pol/sec Diplomatic and colonial exchange
Burma 5 4 5
Cambodia 3 3 4
Indonesia 4 5 3
Philippines 1 2 1
Thailand 2 1 2

Before martial law was established the direction of Philippine foreign policy trends had been towards lessening both military and economic dependence on the United States and towards diversifying Philippine foreign relations. Support in the Philippine Congress for sending Filipino troops to Vietnam was sufficiently thin that no combat forces were sent. And in 1968 the Congress refused to vote even the funds necessary to maintain PHILCAG, resulting in its withdrawal several months later. When Carlos Romulo, then regarded as one of America’s firmest friends in Asia, became secretary of foreign affairs in 1969, he reflected the temper of the times: ‘Events are beginning to show the diminishing value of reliance on one’s friends and, as a corollary, the growing need to be self-reliant even in such matters as security and military preparedness … It will be increasingly difficult to justify the continuing presence of military bases and military-assistance programs and mutual-defense arrangements [when] it is shown that overreliance on one power … may work against the national interest.”12

Acting on the basis of these principles Marcos sent his executive secretary to Moscow in 1970 to discuss recognition and loans. The following year the Senate’s president, Gil Puyat, toured the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Soviet visitors in turn came to Manila. Secretary Romulo reported that from the experiences of these missions, ‘it became steadily obvious that the ultimate option, i.e. to establish diplomatic relations, was the logical and satisfying outcome.’13 On 11 March 1972 Marcos announced the diplomatic recognition of Yugoslavia and Roumania, but appointed only non-resident ambassadors. Unofficial missions with official blessing were also dispatched to Peking, one group even meeting Chou En-lai. But by mid-1972 Marcos had gone no further than to announce agreement ‘in principle’ on trade relations with the People’s Republic. (Smuggling had been brisk for some time.)

Then in August 1972 the Supreme Court entered the foreign policy arena – for it was interpreting a bilateral agreement – with a momentous decision. Pressure had been building in Congress and in some segments of the business community against the extension of American ‘parity rights,’ that is, the right to own and operate agricultural, commercial, and industrial enterprises on a par with those of Filipino citizens. This was the issue involved in a case appealed to the highest court by William Quasha, an American citizen. To everyone’s surprise the Court held that all purchases of private land by Americans since independence were illegal, and thus void. (Americans own about $500 million in real estate in the Philippines.)

After this decision, and the vehement reaction to it in American business circles, press speculation about martial law intensified. In fact, it was declared on 21 September 1972 and hundreds of Mr Marcos’s opponents – including members of Congress and of the Constitutional Convention then sitting – were jailed. In effect, he used the military to establish a personal dictatorship. In addition to drastic changes in domestic affairs there were decided shifts in foreign policy as well. Though the trend toward diversification of Philippine foreign relations continues – East Germany and Mongolia were recognized in the fall of 1973, and a $64-million trade agreement was signed with Peking, Marcos has concentrated most of his activity on improving conditions for United States business: reversing the August 1972 court case by executive fiat, outlawing labour strikes, granting tax concessions, lifting restrictions on full repatriation of profits on investments – even retroactively, and allowing United States oil companies to pick up lucrative ‘service contracts’ so as to sidestep legal restrictions on foreign exploitation of natural resources. Marcos had truly earned the accolades received from the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines on 27 September 1972: ‘The American Chamber … wishes you every success in your endeavors to restore peace and order, business confidence, economic growth and the wellbeing of the Filipino people …’ A more important response, proving the significance of the attractions Mr Marcos provided, is the new surge of foreign investment: over $1 billion in the first six months of 1973, or more than ten times the new investments in the previous year.14 Marcos is also being rewarded with increased United States aid. In addition to helping American business, Marcos also aided the Japanese. Although the Senate in January 1972 had talked of abrogating the Japan-Philippines Treaty of Amity, Trade and Navigation,15 Marcos used martial law to ratify it without the Senate. With a more secure legal status, Japanese investments would increase rapidly.

President Marcos has also taken a hard line against Israel to satisfy Arab oil suppliers – and perhaps to help head off Arab support for Muslim rebels in Mindanao. To what extent Marcos will continue his earlier efforts toward military disassociation from the United States remains to be seen. At a 8 May 1973 press conference Secretary Romulo said that ‘the elimination of these bases from the Philippines will give us a more flexible stand in our international relations with other countries.’16 Public statements on this subject at this time may only constitute a bargaining position, however. Marcos is seeking greater United States military assistance.

This, then, is Philippine policy output in the last few years. The task is to characterize and explain it. Philippine alignment with the United States has been fairly consistent over the years, especially as measured in United Nations votes on PRC admission. Even the agonized decision to recognize two communist states in 1972 can be seen as a belated emulation of Mr Kissinger’s détente. There were already signs in the 1960s of the erosion of that ‘special relationship’ with the United States, however. Probably the two most dramatic were the 1969 congressional refusal to vote further funds for PHILCAG in Vietnam and the 1972 Supreme Court decision on American-owned land. (Both initiatives were taken outside the executive branch of government.17 Perhaps triggered by the Supreme Court action, Marcos reasserted total presidential control over foreign policy in September 1972.

The degree of continuity that does exist in Philippine foreign policy is, in part, simply a reflection of the continuity in elite composition. Until martial law most of the same people, that is the president and key senators, had been making policy for nearly a decade. Carlos Romulo, secretary of foreign affairs for Marcos since 1969, was a prime architect of Philippine foreign policy in the 1940s and 1950s, and an influential adviser in the interim. Decision-makers were operating within a stable political system and in a cultural setting which accepted close ties with the United States and feared communist powers. At election time anti-Americanism was not a big vote getter. In short, elite values and theircompatability with the political culture generally were a prime determinant of the persistence of alignment.

How then are we to explain the policy shift in the late 1960s toward greater diversity in Philippine foreign relations? This, in contrast to the explanation of continuity, was primarily determined by changes in the external environment. Even before the Nixon Doctrine, American preoccupation with Vietnam produced a decline in aid to – though not of military expenditures in – the Philippines. By 1966-7, for instance, net official aid flows (grants and loans) from Japan to the Philippines were $37 million or two-thirds more than aid flows from the United States.18 However, the Philippine reaction to external change was deeply affected by vocal political opposition at home.

The Sino-Soviet split dawned slowly on Manila. By the time its reality had been accepted a Soviet-American détente was at hand. Filipino leaders saw such clearly anti-communist neighbours as Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia expand their trade with the USSR. Indonesia was even offered credits. After the advent of ping-pong diplomacy China too took on a less fearsome visage. In March 1972 Secretary Romulo spelled out his perception of these international changes, and their consequences:

It is plain that in this new decade, and probably long after that, the political economic, and international affairs of Southeast Asia … will be influenced by the jockeying among the emergent Great Powers, all four of them, for vantage positions. There are many uncertainties in this equation, many ifs … One thing is certain: the rivalries among them will intensify … There is in all this no ground to be pessimistic or frightened. On the contrary, the Philippines is well-advised to consider the bright prospects offered us, and to seize whatever advantages we can get.19

Finally, in looking at the changes in Manila’s policies whichfollowed the Marcos declaration of martial law, we must again find explanations both within the internal environment and in the penetrative process. Transnational interactions may so thoroughly penetrate a small state’s decision-making process that dependency is created. ‘Dependence is translated into policy most directly when certain policies which a government might otherwise follow become prohibitively costly,’ say the editors of International Organization.20

No one should assume that Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law merely in response to the pressures from multinational corporations, though there certainly was pressure on him to ‘do something’ after the Quasha decision. He has displayed a very potent ambition; he was constitutionally prohibited from running for re-election, and it was clear that if his wife ran, she would not win. What is puzzling, however, is that he was largely able to get what he wanted – a parliamentary system that would allow him indefinite power – from the Constitutional Convention, then in the process of drafting a new basic document, by the venerable nineteenth-century North American practice of buying votes. Why then was martial law and the suspension of Congress necessary? Was it in order to surpress a communist rebellion, as was claimed? A much more serious uprising in the 1940s and 1950s was put down merely with the suspension of habeas corpus. And most of the thousands of political prisoners are not, and have not been accused of being, communist guerrillas or their accomplices. Many prominent economic nationalists are, however, behind bars, or under surveillance.

There is no clear evidence that American business demanded the declaration. What is suggested is that the imposition of martial law, its timing, and the object of its repression was in part precipitated by American business pressure. American representatives probably reminded Mr Marcos of the disastrous consequences for the economy – both his own and the nation’s – if theQuasha decision were enforced, and assured him of the powerful external support, both private and governmental, which he would receive if he took measures to overturn lt.21 American corporate interests were not without their Filipino allies: 8o per cent of all foreign investment in the Philippines is American and most large Filipino firms are linked financially to American counterparts.22 But support for Marcos from this sector of Philippine society was itself the result of penetration.

This explanation for a shift in Philippine policy, implemented through the declaration of martial law, calls attention to a phenomenon which is widespread both in contemporary international affairs and in history. Alan Dowty has, in fact, found such patterns of foreign linkages with domestic economic and political groups in the Classical World.23 The Chilean coup of 1973 also displays certain parallels. And what is the consequence of such linkages? Peter Evans concludes an essay on ‘National Autonomy and Economic Development’ this way: ‘This analysis implies that policies favoring foreign investors should rarely be found in conjunction with policies that stress a higher level of [popular] participation.’24 Indeed it is inevitable in today’s world that if there is an atmosphere of political freedom in a developing country economic nationalism will become an important movement. If the movement becomes too powerful, the interests of foreign enterprises conflict with the very principles of democraticparticipation inherent in national institutions.25 That conflict often leads to some type of intervention.

Let us turn next to an examination of Thailand, which has also experienced a recent change in government and shift in policy – but for rather different reasons.


During the late 1960s Thailand’s troop commitment in Vietnam and Laos and the busy American bases on its soil qualified it as being the most closely aligned with the United States of any southeast Asian country. Unlike the Philippines, however, this relationship was not fixed by intimate historical links. After World War xi Thailand’s relations with the United States were cordial, but it was not until the invasion of South Korea in 1950 that Bangkok established a de facto military alliance. American military assistance has been quite substantial ever since. During the peak years of the Vietnam War, 1966-8, Thailand received $787 million for base construction, rest and rehabilitation, and other military expenditures over and above the military assistance programme.26

Nevertheless, there have been occasional jolts in the American alliance, usually followed by Thai insistence on greater American commitment. For instance, in 1959 a neutralist coup in Laos produced a civil war and increased international intervention. Thailand urged SEATO to act against ‘communist aggression,’ but the SEATO Council did no more than make a verbal protest. In consequence Thailand asked for bilateral assurances from the United States. This was provided by a joint statement of the two foreign ministers in which the then Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, affirmed that Thailand’s independence and territorial integrity were regarded as ‘vital’ to the United States national interest and that United States obligations under SEATO were ‘individual as well as collective’ and therefore did ‘not depend on the prior agreement of all other parties.’27 Secretly at the same time the United States helped finance the dispatch of Thai troops to aid the Royal Lao forces.

In view of such previous experience it is not surprising that Thailand has been particularly nervous about the so-called Nixon Doctrine. This time, however, instead of seeking still closer ties with the United States – hardly reasonable – Bangkok is moving toward diversification of its foreign relations. Revelations in the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Thailand had received $200 million to send its troops to Vietnam added embarrassment to uncertainty about the Thai alliance with the United States. Thai discomfort was reflected in the then Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman’s petulance when he attacked ‘unwarranted and immature remarks of a few misguided individuals … possibly affected by senility or mental atrophy.’28 At the same time the Foreign Minister implied dismay at the destruction in South Vietnam when he pledged that ‘we will not ask for American soldiers to come and fight in the defense of Thailand in an insurgent war.’ In fact, insurgency which combined ethnic discontent and communist leadership was already well advanced. By 1971 guerrilla forces in the north, northeast, and south were estimated at 3500 men and the Thai air force, apparently impressed by American tactics, was dropping napalm on northern Meo villages.

In 1970 Thailand announced that it would withdraw its troops from Vietnam over a two-year period, and despite the upsurge of communist military activity in Cambodia, no Thai troops intervened there – partly because there were no American funds to foot the bill. On another front Thailand agreed to meet withNorth Vietnamese officials to discuss the evacuation of Vietnamese refugees from Thailand, talks which had been suspended since 1965. Also in 1970 Thailand signed its first trade agreements with Eastern Europeans, another step in diversifying its foreign relations.

But, of course, if there were to be a truly significant reorientation in Thai policy, it would have to involve China. In 1971 Thanat Khoman revealed that Thailand had been seeking for three years to improve relations with China and professed to see some softening in Peking’s policies as a result. The Thai abstention on the Albanian resolution which finally won a seat for Peking in the United Nations – while supporting the United States two-China ploy verbally – should be understood in this context. In early November the Thai ban on trade with the People’s Republic was lifted.29 A few members of the Thai parliament – elected in 1969 in the first fairly free election in over a decade – attempted to make direct personal contact with Peking.

This was apparently one of the factors triggering a mini-coup on 17 November 1971, in which Field Marshal Thanom Kit-tikachorn, already in effective control, dismissed the elected parliament, abolished political parties, and suspended the constitution. Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman also lost his post. In April 1972 Thanom declared that Thailand would ‘wait and see’ rather than rush into ‘contacts’ with China.30

Nevertheless, after some delay, contact with China did resume, disguised in the rituals of ping-pong diplomacy. In 1972 a former minister of commerce accompanied a Thai table tennis team to China, and in 1973 teams from the two countries exchanged visits, with two members of their respective foreign offices in tow. The Deputy Foreign Minister in Bangkok, himself a major general, announced ‘substantial progress’ in these unofficial talks. But the prime Thai concern remained: Chinese support for insurgents which was at the very least verbal. Thai official estimates showedan increase of nearly woo in rebel forces over the year.31

Then in October 1973 Thailand experienced a truly unique change of government: a spontaneous student rebellion which, with the support of the King, forced the resignation of the supposedly all-powerful Marshal Thanom and his immediate departure for the United States. (The scenario was not just an academic revolutionary’s dream: the army commander sided with the King.) Because so much attention has been focused since October on the creation of a truly democratic constitutional structure, the outlines of the foreign policy of the new regime are not entirely clear.

Though allied with the United States militarily, Thailand, unlike the Philippines, has had its closest economic links with Japan. Ever since the early 1960s Japan has been Thailand’s major trading partner. In 1969 Japanese foreign investment in Thailand was nearly twice that of the United States.32 And Japan’s economic presence has been very obvious. The 7500 Japanese residents in Bangkok constitute a larger community than do Japanese in any other foreign city except New York. Japanese advertising signs wholly dominate Bangkok’s nocturnal landscape. What had not been so obvious was the distribution by Japanese firms of emoluments,• including numerous directorships, to the Thai military brass. But it all came out after the October revolution of 1973. So that under the present government, far from planning an expansion of relations with Japan, Thailand contemplates a cut back. The student demonstrations against Tanaka were only one measure of Thai sentiment.33

The oil price crisis also hit the Thai economy – already suffering an unfavourable trade balance – in a vulnerable spot. A symbol of Chinese interest in Thailand and of Thai willingness to accept Chinese favours was the successful negotiation in Peking late in 1973 by the Thai Deputy Foreign Minister of a purchaseof 50,000 tons of diesel fuel at ‘friendship’ prices.34

Moreover, William Kintner, the United States ambassador in Thailand, is contributing to Thai-United States tensions. If the Nixon Doctrine called for a ‘low posture’ in southeast Asia, then Kintner is out of step – to the right. In the course of a recent interview, he declared that United States policy continues to be one of ‘blunting North Vietnamese aggression against its neighbors.’ To that end, he said that United States air force installations would remain in place in Thailand, ‘as a deterrent.’35 Speaking in Boston in April, the Thai ambassador to the United States, Anand Panyarachum, put forward a different perspective on the bases. He claimed that the Thai had decided that it was in their own interest to have American bases in Thailand to stop communism in Indochina, adding that the initial agreement on those bases was only for the duration of the Vietnam War. Now that the war was over, he explained, the Thai have asked for the reduction of United States forces and have opened negotiations to that end.36

Ambassador Kintner formerly worked for the CIA and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania. He once wrote: To insist on “freedom” will not help where … the precipitate rush into democracy will lead to general disorder, the ideal condition for a communist takeover.’ He has also justified the 1971 Bangkok coup as facing up to ‘the Chinese Communist threat.’ It is not entirely without justification, therefore, that a prominent Thai politician foresees ‘a situation where the us wants to bomb Vietnam again’ – to use the ‘deterrent,’ the constitutionally-elected Thai government refuses, and Kintner conspires with the military to get in a new government that will let this country be used as an American launching pad again.’37 Nor, apparently, does Prime Minister Sanya regard such a danger lightly: he has abolished the eight-year-old Communist Suppression Operations Command, which had become ‘a refuge for anti-democratic elements, as well as for CIA agents acting without accountability to the Thai Government.’

Having described Thai foreign policy, let us categorize it and attempt to evaluate its determinants. Thai alignment seems to be characterized by a high degree of consistency, despite slight shifts in emphasis from time to time. Considering the way in which the leadership was changed in October 1973, the impact on foreign policy recently has been less than might have been anticipated. This degree of policy consistency seems to be a bit incongruous, given Thailand’s reputation for political instability and frequent coups. But instability has been largely at the level of cabinet composition. Ever since 1951 – soon after the launching of the United States military assistance programme – Thailand has been ruled by a military elite and its allies in the civil bureaucracy. No civilian politician was allowed an independent basis of power. From 1957, when Marshal Sarit seized control, until 1973 when his chosen successor, Thanom, was ousted, rule has been further concentrated in a single military clique. Bureaucratic continuity has also contributed to a stable policy.

There were some indications from 1969 to 1971 that a political system was evolving in which civilian politicians were to be allowed to organize their own followings and compete for real power. But without developing an effective mass base elected members engaged in the risky ploy of refusing to enact Thanom’s budget. They thought they had independent power; the mini-coup of November 1971 proved them wrong. In fact, Thanom was remarkably frank in explaining why he seized power: ‘Budgetary measures in Parliament had been held up … Military leaders were exasperated by carping criticism of their personal conduct and the conduct of state affairs.’38 His deputy reassured the business community, saying, we ‘will try to achieve a better climate for further foreign investments.’

Thanom also explained his declaration of martial law in foreign policy terms, some of his points sounding remarkably similar to Marcos’s rationale a year later: ‘The army has assumed absolute control in order to prevent renewed insurgency in Thailand following China’s admission to the United Nations … There was no other way of preserving Thailand’s national integrity.’ Anxious about the future flow of United States aid, he noted that it substantially buttressed spending on defence and economic development projects. He was also concerned about the impact on Thailand’s three million Chinese residents: ‘If the Chinese in Thailand take the communist ideology in great numbers, the situation could be turmoil.’ Fear of the Thai Chinese community has been a traditional justification for coups in Bangkok, though, of course, Peking’s entry into the United Nations was a new factor.

Perhaps the most convincing part of the explanation, however, was an addendum which reported that the military leaders felt that the new administrative structure would enable them to conduct negotiations with China from a position of strength.39 The immediate struggle was over who would conduct Thai China policy. Thanat Khoman was out. Press and parliamentary critics from the left were silenced. Though contacts with Peking did resume in 1972, indicating the importance of the external environment in policy-making, it is nevertheless hard to imagine that their pace and purpose had not changed. Perhaps the references to the flow of United States aid was hint of a more substantial difference on alignment policy within the elite.

In Thanom’s apologia for a coup there was reference to another factor which undoubtedly does affect Thai policy, the presence of ethnic minorities. I have previously contended that the degree of national cultural unity constitutes one of the three most important internal determinants of foreign policy in southeast Asia.40 Perhaps a slight amendment is necessary to emphasize that what is really crucial is the extent to which disunity in thepolitical culture can be exploited by external penetration. Alien ethnic groups and indigenous minorities near a border are most susceptible to such penetration.41

Thailand has a Chinese population of nearly to per cent, larger than in any other southeast Asian country outside the Malay peninsula. However, there is considerable evidence that this is a racial category which is economically’ prosperous and well on the way to cultural assimilation. The pull and push of positive and negative incentives to integrate have been quite persistent in the last generation.42 Thus, contrary to the image in some circles, communist infiltration, which attempts to exploit a strong sense of Chinese cultural identity and economic dissatisfaction, is not very significant in the Thai Chinese community.

There seems to be the basis for a general proposition here. Southeast Asian countries, which all have significant Chinese minorities, respond to China internationally at least in part on the basis of whether or not such a minority has been penetrated to a bothersome degree by the communist party. Where, as in Thailand, that penetration has been prevented, either by successful assimilation or efficient police measures, or both, foreign policy-makers can afford to deal ‘firmly’ with Peking without the fear of serious retaliation. Where such penetration has occurred, however, they tend to deal in a conciliatory fashion with the People’s Republic so as to avoid having the potential ‘fifth column’ weapon used against them. (The Chinese themselves apparently understood this principle – until the irrationality of the Cultural Revolution.)

Indigenous minorities with ethnic relations across international boundaries pose essentially the same problem. Though Thailand has no border with China, there are large components of the Tai linguistic family within Chinese territory. The communist-backed Thai Patriotic Front has attempted to exploit this ethnic link. Penetration has been much more successful than in the case of the ethnic Chinese, who are primarily urbanites. But since rural insurgency in Thailand did not become serious until 1966 when the Thai were deeply enmeshed in a military alliance with the United States, an American approach to the problem could hardly have been avoided. It is estimated that $ioo million a year was spent on the Thai counter-insurgency programme by the United States. Yet the problem increased rather than dim-inished.43 It appears that Thanat Khoman and the leaders of the new government in Bangkok learned a lesson from this experience – it won’t work. Their approach is rather to offer trade and diplomatic recognition to Peking in exchange for a cessation of Chinese radio broadcasts to, and possibly other types of support for, the rebel groups. Consideration has also been given to conditional amnesty for insurgents; perhaps the abolition of the Communist Suppression Operations Command is a step in this direction.

In any case, shifts in Thai policy were subtle indeed compared to the upheaval in Indonesian foreign affairs in 1965-6.


Sukarno implemented his foreign policy with such drama and flair that the world’s images of Indonesia were deeply affected. Indonesian foreign policy both before and since ‘guided democracy’ is less well remembered. The differences in policy between the periods are sharp indeed, but the continuities are nevertheless significant.44

During the first few years after the success of the revolution, in the early 1950s, Indonesian foreign policy was dedicated to obtaining capital for reconstruction and development and to improving relations with the Dutch, whose presence in Indonesia was still quite noticeable. Nevertheless, even within those first years, when domestic politics were competitive and western democratic values widely respected, the principle of an ‘independent and active’ foreign policy led to the recognition of Peking (1951) and a refusal to back the United States in the Korean War. Efforts to develop the economy with foreign aid soon faltered and the Dutch proved intransigent on outstanding issues, particularly on the Indonesian claim to West Irian. Thus even before the end of parliamentary government, Indonesia was moving toward greater emphasis on non-alignment and the Afro-Asian identity, with its most successful foreign policy venture being the Bandung Conference of 1955. It was in such a milieu that Sukarno’s skills emerged.

The events of 1957-8 marked a decisive turning point for Indonesia, both domestically and externally. Stubborn Hollanders caused frustrated Indonesians to abrogate the Netherlands-Indonesian Union. And in December 1957, when the United Nations also failed to give the Indonesians any satisfaction in their West Irian claim, the government nationalized all Dutch firms and expelled almost all Dutch residents. Meanwhile regional discontent and excessive party wrangling had led to the declaration of martial law in March and the subsequent assertion by President Sukarno of a new and dominant political role for himself. In 1958 regional discontent turned to outright rebellion, in Sumatra and Celebes, with evidence of CIA support. The rebellions were put down with unexpected vigour by the army. Since the pro-western political parties were discredited by their complicity in Sumatra, the Indonesian Communist party (1,1(1) and the army became the political beneficiaries of these events. For the next seven years Sukarno presided over a precarious triangular balance of power.45 Both by personal inclination and because of the political pressures on him he turned rapidly toward a stance that placed him in frequent opposition to the United States. Statisticsshow that his representatives in the United Nations voted with the USSR more frequently than any other southeast Asian member.

Sukarno’s first major foreign policy goal was to regain West Irian from the Dutch. He sought, and received, massive Soviet military aid for this purpose. Before the conflict reached full-scale hostilities, however, the Dutch agreed to withdraw and Sukarno’s policies were hailed as a success. The need to follow policies that satisfied both the PKI and the army scuttled a brief flirtation in 1963 with the United States and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and helped push Sukarno towards a new confrontation, with Malaysia. In this increasingly militant line Djakarta received enthusiastic support from Peking. In fact, Sukarno’s world view was quite compatible with Mao’s. But this `axis’ was soon broken.

The attempted coup of 30 September 1965 led to Sukarno’s displacement by General Suharto several months later. No change of government brought about by internal forces has produced such a dramatic turnaround in foreign policy as that in Indonesia. The coup was apparently planned by a small group of pro-Pm Javanese officers in the army, possibly with the knowledge of some PKI leaders.46 In any case, when it failed, due to the courage and tactical skills of General Suharto, the PKI and their Chinese supporters were blamed. Anti-Pm sentiment was inflamed among Muslim youth. With the help of the army hundreds of thousands of persons were ultimately killed – communists, alleged communists, friends and relatives of suspected communists, Chinese, and unlucky bystanders. By the end of 1966 the army was in firm control. Indonesian foreign policy was not to be deflected by opposition views or tactics.

The first task of the military regime, assisted by professional economists previously out of favour, was to stop runaway inflation, increase production, and attract capital. Suharto’s foreign policythus was and remains a ‘policy of development.’ Foreign Minister Adam Malik expressed it this way in late 1972: `Indonesia’s foreign policy today is guided by a new and pragmatic realism … In the short term, primary attention is to be devoted to … the nation’s first priority today: … economic development. This means an external diplomacy geared towards the maximisation of all available foreign aid, technical assistance, private investment and trade in support of our national development goals.’47

In pursuit of this goal Indonesia met the requirements of the IMF – price stabilization, a new law with attractive conditions for foreign investors, etc – and has been able to attract massive assistance through the Tokyo Club, or Intergovernmental Group on Indonesia (mci). With Japan and the United States each contributing about one-third, aid has grown from $200 million in 1967 to $760 million in 1973.48

Franklin Weinstein, who has conducted extensive interviews among the Djakarta elite, reports that `Suharto’s foreign policy of development has stirred considerable criticism, though it is seldom expressed publicly.’49 Resentment of the IMF influence on Indonesian economic policy and discomfort with the heavy pro-western tilt is to be found among political party leaders, intellectuals, army officers, and even foreign ministry officials. Some of this feeling surfaced in 1969 when Suharto decided to allow more freedom of discussion prior to the 1971 elections.

Since then there have been some modest efforts to ‘redress the balance.’ It was Peking which had suffered most from Sukamo’s overthiow. Though Indonesia did not break diplomatic relations, it did recall its ambassador from China, and halted trade. Trade resumed on a small scale in 1969. In 1970 Djakarta proposed `normalization’ of relations if China would pledge not to interfere in Indonesia’s internal affairs. In August 1972 Malik was promoting ‘the trend toward ties with China so as to avoid a dangerous reliance on or dominance by a single world power.‘550

During the Paris Conference on Vietnam Malik had long talks with Chinese diplomats, but nothing substantial happened. A February 1974 statement in Djakarta by the Foreign Minister made it perfectly clear where the roadblock lies: ‘Indonesia is not making any decision yet to mention the date of “reopening” the diplomatic relations with People’s China … The defrosting of the present “frozen” diplomatic relations between Indonesia and China now depends entirely on the initiative of Indonesia.’51 Suharto is apparently not yet persuaded that the danger of subversion through the Pm and overseas Chinese has passed.

Unhampered by such things as the Cultural Revolution, the USSR made a gesture to refinance Indonesia’s nearly $800 million debt as early as 1966, hoping, perhaps, to relieve pressure on the PKI. The crackdown intensified, however, so that there were no new Soviet overtures until 1969. In 1970 Moscow ‘agreed in principle’ to extend new economic aid, and in 1971 offered credits for military spare parts. Though Suharto specifically called for good relations with the Soviet Union in his 1972 Independence Day speech, he had made no concrete moves in that direction. Radio Moscow had expressed lingering sympathy for Indonesian communism. Then early this year the first Soviet cabinet member to visit Indonesia since 1965 met with President Suharto and they approved a new trade agreement.52

As in the case of Thailand, diversification of Indonesian foreign relations would hardly require closer links with Japan. However, as recently as 1972 Suharto was seeking additional Japanese aid and went to Tokyo to obtain credits of $300 million. Criticism of Japan in Indonesia rose during 1973, both because Japan was becoming the largest foreign investor and becauseJapanese businessmen seemed to be most successful in corrupting Indonesian officials. Attacks on the Japanese thus became veiled attacks on the government itself. In this context, the remarks of Foreign Minister Malik just before Premier Tanaka visited Djakarta have a special significance. Responding to a newsman’s questions about widespread anti-Japanese sentiment, Malik said that the Japanese stand toward Indonesia should be corrected. ‘However,’ he added, ‘in efforts to ask for revision of the Japanese policy, the Indonesian public should not conduct intimidating acts against the visiting Japanese Premier.’53 We now know that Indonesian students did not take Malik’s advice. In the ensuing riots at least two dozen were killed. ‘Disillusionment with what “economic development” has brought the Indonesian people lies at the root of almost all the unrest that can be seen here,’ wrote one experienced observer from Djakarta.54

Perhaps reflecting a sensitivity to the intense malaise revealed in January, the chargé d’affaires of the Indonesian embassy in Washington, speaking in April, phrased Indonesian policy more in terms of ‘independence.’ He said that Indonesia believes in the ‘multilateralization’ of external relations in southeast Asia as the basis for stability. He added that this should include neutralization, based on the self-confidence and capabilities of the countries of the region, not on great-power guarantees – thereby rejecting the Brezhnev proposa1.55 Neutralization, he further specified, should include ‘eventual withdrawal of direct great power security involvement.’56 There was a theme which seemed to echo the recent past.

The tripartite periodization of Indonesian foreign policy is rather straightforward. The question remains: how much of a shift took place from phase to phase, and why.

Foreign policy in Indonesia has from the beginning attemptedto serve two goals: the promotion and maintenance of national unity and independence and the acquisition of the resources essential for economic development.57 The nature of political competition in any period determines the weight given the respective goals and the strategies to be used to attain them.58

The two sharpest turns in Indonesian foreign policy can be explained in these terms. In 1957-8 with the advent of ‘guided democracy’ not only did the ideological spectrum within which political competition took place move to the left, but the actors in that competition changed – with the rise of the PM and the eclipse of Masjumi. Furthermore, Sukarno, acting as the balancer in a lopsided triumvirate, found that foreign policy was one of the few areas of decision-making in which he had considerable independence. All these factors militated in favour of policies less friendly to the United States and more friendly to China and the Soviet Union. In addition, however, the discovery of United States support for regional rebels in 1958 was seen as a direct threat by a great power to national political and territorial unity and deeply coloured Sukarno’s world view. Both internal and external determinants thus had somewhat the same effect.

In 1966 Indonesian policy quickly became more economically motivated and thus more pro-western, harking back to statements and decisions of the early 1950s, even though the political competition of the late 1960s, far from parliamentary democracy, was severely cramped by military rule. The political cataclysm of 1965-6 had eliminated the PKI and brought back many from the Masjumi braintrust because their economic expertise was needed. The legitimate ideological spectrum had again been changed radically.

There was another similarity with 1957-8; foreign penetration by a great power was regarded as having jeopardized national political and cultural unity. But this time the culprit was China. Sheldon Simon59 has dedicated a book to the proposition that the PKI was an agent of informal penetration of Indonesian foreign policy by the Chinese People’s Republic. But the only corroboration came from evidence provided in testimony at the political trials of those unfortunates accused by the Suharto regime of being conspirators in the unsuccessful coup of 30 September. In fact, the government news service, ANTARA, reported as late as February 1967 that a Peking ‘spy’ had been apprehended distributing literature which called on local Chinese to launch opposition to General Suharto.60

Whatever the accuracy or inaccuracy of such reports – in the early 1960s Peking quite consciously refrained from fully utilizing its ability to penetrate the Indonesian Chinese community – it is probably correct to assume that Suharto and his advisers believed that Chinese penetration had posed a threat to Indonesian unity and independence. But the fact that the Chinese have allowed a PKI leader to take refuge in Peking and to use the media occasionally helps to bolster Suharto’s image.

While the quest for independence was central to Sukamo’s foreign policy and the search for economic aid has dominated Suharto’s, we should remember that neither theme was completely forgotten under either man. Remember especially Sukarno’s dabbling in economic planning in 1963, which almost became significant, and the renewed emphasis on neutrality and nonalignment from Djakarta in 1974. Continuity in Indonesian foreign policy, though certainly less than in the policies of the Philippines or Thailand, is not totally lacking. Some national political and cultural values persisted within the elite eventhrough the upheavals that marked Sukarno’s emergence to power and his fall.


Alignment policy has been the focus of our discussion. We have observed alignment expressed in United Nations votes, the sending and recalling of diplomatic missions, the acceptance of foreign military bases, the dispatch of troops at the request of the great-power ally, and through trade and economic aid agreements. We have noted southeast Asian policies toward foreign investment since they inevitably favour the two great powers on the anticommunist side. The question of whether policy directed in the first place toward ‘transnational’ actors, eg, multinational corporations, is in the strictest sense ‘foreign policy’ is only an issue to be raised here, not answered.

What are the variables determining alignment policy? (Evidence from these countries can only lead to very tentative generalizations.) Let us look first at the external ones. All states must be attentive to the external environment in the making of foreign policy. For the three countries on which this study focuses, the nature of the environment has been quite similar. It is not surprising, therefore, that since 1969 all three have moved, in one way or another, to diversify great-power contacts. The differences in their timing and emphasis, which are considerable, must be explained in other ways, however.

For which ones has the external environment, unmediated by a linkage group, been relatively most important? The answer is determined by the characteristics of each political system. Where a national leader is relatively secure in his own position, or where he cannot affect his position through foreign policy, then the external environment weighs most heavily, as with Thailand and the Philippines. Such a leader tends to be found in a political system with relatively high institutionalization and/or continuity in elite composition. And in such polities bureaucracies tend to be more developed, providing the machinery for evaluating the external environment. Thailand is the particular case in point. In sum the internal environment determines the conditions under which the external environment becomes important.

The internal environment also sets the parameters of foreign penetration, determining the ease and the targets thereof. Only ‘externally controlled penetration,’ undertaken without the benefit of a willing linkage group, is unaffected by the configuration of the penetrated polity. In southeast Asia the only case of this was the American invasion of Cambodia in May 1970. Whether penetration be through political agencies (eg, the Chinese Communist party, a United States military advisory group, or the cu) or through multinational corporations, the probability, timing, and success of imperialist probing will depend in large part on the vulnerability of the society affected.

Political agents seem to have preferred ethnic minorities – both alien and indigenous, political parties, and groups of officers. As we have suggested, ethnic minorities which have not been assimilated to the dominant national culture, or effectively controlled, are ripe for external exploitation, especially by their racial brothers or cousins. Thus the Chinese have had easy access to Chinese minorities in Indonesia, Burma, and Cambodia, and to the mountain peoples in Thailand and Burma through the Tai minorities in southern China. Dissatisfaction within ethnic minorities may, however, lead to penetration by culturally unconnected groups (eg, the CIA in Indonesia). In that case certain ideological bonds – religion and anti-communism – were exploited. Political parties with organizational or ideological links abroad (eg, the Pm) and military groups that have developed financial dependency on or shared training with foreign forces (eg, the Cambodian army) are also susceptible to penetration. When the penetrated linkage group wins, as in Thailand in 1951, foreign policy is aligned with that great power which has attempted the penetration, but when the linkage group fails to achieve its goals, as in Indonesia in 1958 – and perhaps 1965 – or in Burma in 1967, then foreign policy is hostile to that power. A further qualification is necessary in the case of governments that have little hope of controlling further penetration, even if it has not been successful so far. Such regimes will tend to placate the penetrating power rather than reacting with hostility: Thailand in the 19705 toward China, for example.

Penetration by great corporations or international lending bodies (eg, the Chase Manhattan Bank or the IMF) is most likely in a society starved for capital and foreign exchange, a situation endemic to the countries studied – though world oil price rises will quickly put Indonesia in a stronger position. Because economic penetration is not undertaken primarily for political purposes, it tends to be less dramatic and more persistent than that by political agencies. Therefore, though there are numerous instances of southeast Asian discomfort with United States economic aid – especially Burma and Indonesia in the 1950s and Cambodia in the 1960s – even leading to rejection of aid offered, the inadequacy of the aid programme per se was not the central cause of the rejection. Nor has opposition among students or certain local businessmen brought a halt to American investment in the Philippines or Japanese investment in Thailand or Indonesia.

Foreign penetration of linkage groups has been important for foreign policy in all states. Penetration by the CIA and by the Chinese communists, in that order, have been the most significant. Insofar as both have used ethnic minorities as linkage groups, the opportunities for penetration in the long run will probably decline, since assimilation is taking place. Nor is the linkage that was apparently established between the local Chinese community and the Communist party in Indonesia likely to be duplicated again soon in any country of the region. The cost in blood was too great. The conditions for other types of penetration may be increasing, however, because of the nature of political development in southeast Asia.

Internal variables have already been described as important for foreign policy insofar as they channel and filter external forces. Elite values have been regarded as significant in this way too. One might have interpreted the difference between the aligned and non-aligned states of southeast Asia in the early 1960s as simply a reflection of elite values. A slightly different, yet similar, hypothesis has been stated by David Wilkinson: ‘States with a choice of potential allies generally prefer allies of regime status similar to their own.’61 Southeast Asian data easily undermine this view, however, if one looks at trends over a twenty-year period. There is no positive correlation between internal democracy and alliance with the United States, for example. Thailand, a staunch ally and military oligarchy, has recently tried to disengage somewhat from that alliance just as it became more democratic. Nor did an end to democracy produce a break in the United States alliance in the Philippines. Swings toward the United States in Indonesia and Cambodia were also unrelated to the rise or demise of democracy.

If one were to concentrate on the economic outlook of the elite, rather than on political values or the structure of political institutions, it might be easier to support a generalization. All states in southeast Asia whose leaders favour economic development through private entrepreneurship have close and friendly relations with the United States. None who favour socialism – Burma and North Vietnam, and earlier Cambodia – have been so aligned.

Franklin Weinstein has an intriguing thesis which posits the more democracy the less alliance with the United States.62 Based on his research on Indonesia, he believes that a foreign policy devoted to gaining the resources for economic development is usually the outgrowth of a non-competitive political system. A development policy requires heavy reliance on capital exporting countries, such as the United States and Japan, and thus abandonment of the emphasis on independence through foreign policy which is also a persistent goal among elites and counter-elites in the new states. A neutralist policy, on the other hand, is designed, according to Weinstein, by a leader who presides over brisk political competition and who fears the ability of the oppositionto mobilize support on the grounds that ‘the nation’s independence is being sacrificed.’ It is true, in fact, that in any policy where public criticism is tolerated, the object of opposition attacks has been the great power with which the government had the closest relations. (In the Philippines in the late 1960s such criticism was relatively mild.) The level and structure of internal political competition can be a very important foreign policy determinant.

Given the obvious need for economic development and the concomitant need for political stability based on a certain national consensus, an ideal foreign policy in southeast Asia would thus be one in which foreign aid and investment were forthcoming in approximately equal proportions from all the great powers. But the varying economic capabilities of the great powers make this an impossible dream. Diversifying aid and investment by seeking help from small and medium powers is only a partial solution.

Any foreign policy devoted to economic development in a capitalist framework will increase western economic penetration. That penetration will take place in the context of constantly rising demands for popular political participation, whatever steps are taken from time to time to suppress them. And over the years the requirements for repayment of loans and repatriation of profits by foreign creditors and investors will appear to be more and more onerous, as they do today in Canada. If these trend forecasts are accurate, then the outlook is not a happy one for those southeast Asian states that attempt to follow a development-oriented foreign policy. Nor are the prospects good for a continuation of American influence in the region.


1 For the fullest treatment see International Organization, XXV (summer 1971), special issue on ‘Transnational Relations and World Politics,’ edited by Robert Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

2 Guy Pauker, ‘Southeast Asia as a Problem Area in the Next Decade,’ World Politics, xi (April 1959),325-45.

3 See his ‘Pre-theories and Theories of Foreign Policy,’ in Barry Farrell, ed, Approaches to Comparative and International Politics (Evanston 1966), pp 63ff, and ‘Toward the Study of National-International Linkages,’ in Rosenau, ed, Linkage Politics (New York 1969), pp 44-66.

4 Rosenau, ‘Pre-theories,’ p 64.

5 See his ‘Transnational Politics: Toward a Theory of Multinational Politics,’ International Organization, xxv (autumn 1971), 812ff. Distinctions are difficult to draw when one finds that in almost all cases – even those involving military occupation – the penetrator finds willing tools in the penetrated society. See also Richard Falk, ‘Zone n as a World Order Constraint,’ in Rosenau, Davis, and East, The Analysis of International Politics (New York 1972), pp 187-203.

6 Quoted in Rosenau, ed, Linkage Politics, p 54. See also Samuel Huntington, ‘Transnational Organizations in World Politics,’ World Politics, xxv (April 1973), 333’68.

7 Allen Dulles, The Craft of Intelligence (New York 1963), pp 235-6.

8 Earl C. Ravenal, ‘The Nixon Doctrine and Our Asian Commitments,’ Foreign Affairs, xt.rx (January 1971), 201-17; and Jeffrey Record, ‘The Nixon Doctrine after Three Years: Much Ado About Very Little,’ SAIS Review, xvt (spring 1972), 22-34.

9 Our descriptive material and tables – with a few exceptions – will not include data from five independent countries which now constitute nearly 20 per cent of the population of southeast Asia: North and South Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and Singapore. In each case there is eithcr an absolute lack of comparable data or an absence of data over the entire period covered.

10 Data in Wynfred Joshua and Stephen Gibert, Arms for the Third World: Soviet Military Aid Diplomacy (Baltimore 1969) is not therefore satisfactorily comparative.

11 See Robert Tilman, ‘The Philippines in ig7o: A Difficult Decade Begins,’ Asian Survey, xi (February 1971), 147.

12 Quoted in Richard Butwell, Southeast Asia Today -nrui Tomorrow (2nd ed, New York 1969), p 132.

13 Carlos P. Romulo, ‘A Time for Decision,’ Sunday Times Magazine (Manila), la March 1972, p 6.

14 Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission, quoted in The Philippines: American Corporations, Martial Law and Underdevelopment (Corporate Information Center, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, 1973),P 30.

15 It had been signed in 1961 and ratified quickly by the Japanese Diet, but never ratified by the Senate of the Philippines.

16 Asian Almanac, xi (1 September 1973), 5989.

17 Though the Quasha decision might be regarded as simply a ‘transnational interaction,’ with the affected parties being private economic interests, not states, the private rights restricted by the Court had been created by a state-to-state agreement. They could have been restored either in the same way – or by executive repudiation of the Court’s ruling. Marcos chose the latter.

18 OECD, Geographical Distribution of Financial Flows to Less Developed Countries, 1966-67, pp 8o-i.

19 Sunday Times Magazine (Manila), 12 March 1972, p 7. For a somewhat similar formulation see Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor’s ‘Philippine Security Issues: Internal and External,’ in Asia, no 23 (autumn 1971).

20 Joseph S. Nye, Jr, and Robert Keohane, ‘Transnational Relations and World Politics: An Introduction,’ International Organization, xxv (summer 1971), 339.

21 It is probable that American government representatives assured Marcos of support, even if he should declare martial law, though, of course, there is no direct evidence of this. What is known is the attitude of embassy officials after the fact. According to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Staff report (‘Korea and the Philippines: November 1972’) released 18 February 1973: ‘us officials appear prepared to accept that the strengthening of presidential authority will … enable President Marcos to introduce needed stability; that these objectives are in our interest; and that … military bases and a familiar government in the Philippines, are more important than the preservation of democratic institutions …’

22 The Philippines: American Corporations, Martial Law and Underdevelopment, p ii.

23 ‘Foreign-Linked Factionalism as a Historical Pattern,’ Journal of Conflict Resolution, xv (December 1971), 429-42.

24 International Organization, XXV (summer 1971), p 689.

25 For a more elaborated application of this point to the Philippines see ‘Philippine Martial Law: The Political Economy of Refeudalization,’ by Robert Stauffer, paper prepared for annual meeting of Association for Asian Studies, Boston, 1-3 April 1974. A more detailed account of martial law and its immediate aftermath is to be found in Justus van der Kroef, ‘Communism and Reform in the Philippines,’ Pacific Affairs, XLVI (spring 1973). 29-58.

26 Ma Myint, et al, for the Asian Development Bank, Southeast Asia’s Economy in the 1970’s (New York 1971), p 635.

27 See David A. Wilson, ‘Thailand, Laos and Cambodia; in Wayne Wilcox, et al. Asia and the International System (Cambridge 1972), p 192.

28 Quoted in Clark Neher, ‘Thailand: The Politics of Continuity,’ Asian Survey, x (February 1970), 166.

29 Robert Horn, ‘Changing Soviet Policies and Sino-Soviet Competition in Southeast Asia,’ thins, xvit (summer 1973), 522.

30 Far Eastern Economic Review, 6 May 1972, p 4.

31 See Jeffrey Race, ‘Thailand 1973: “We Certainly Have been Ravaged by Something …,” ‘ Asian Survey, my (February 1974), 200.

32 Southeast Asia’s Economy in the 1970’s, p 411.

33 See Selig Harrison, ‘Japan’s Role in Thailand: Investment or Economic Control,’ Honolulu Advertiser, 15 March 1973.

34 Jibhand Kambhu, ‘Be Prepared for the Worst,’ Far Eastern Economic Review, 28 January 1974, pp 25-6.

35 T.D. Allman, ‘Bill of Rights,’ ibid. 21 January 1974, pp 29-30.

36 Address to Association for Asian Studies, annual meeting. i April 1974, Boston. Paraphrase from author’s notes.

37 Allman, ‘Bill of Rights,’ p 3o0.

38 Asian Almanac, 15 January 1972, p 4976.

39 Ibid.

40 ‘Southeast Asian Response to International Politics,’ in William Henderson, cd, Southeast Asia: Problems of U.S. Policy (Cambridge i963), p 98.

41 On this latter point see Walker Connor, ‘Ethnology and the Peace of South Asia,’ World Politics, xx11 (October 1969), 51-86.

42 See G. William Skinner, ‘Chinese Assimilation and Thai Politic,’ Journal of 1131(171 Studies, xvi (February 1957), 235-6 and Peter Snow, ‘Political Integration of the Overseas Chinese Communities in Burma, Cambodia and Thailand,’ unpublished MA thesis, University of Windsor, 1973.

43 See Ralph Thaxton, ‘Modernization and Counter-Revolution in Thailand,’ Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, v (December 1973),28-40.

44 I am heavily indebted to the brilliant analysis of Franklin Weinstein, ‘Indonesia,’ in Wayne Wilcox, et al, Asia and the International System. See also Jon Reinhardt, Foreign Policy and National Integration: The Case of Indonesia, Monograph Series no 17 (Yale University 1971).

45 See Frederick P. Bunnell, ‘Guided Democracy Foreign Policy: 1960-65 …,’ Indonesia, ii (October 1966), 37-77.

46 See account of Bernard Dahm, History of Indonesia in the Twentieth Century (New York 1971). Dahm was at the trials in Djakarta. For an opinionated review of the literature see J.M. van der Kroef, ‘Interpretations of the 1965 Indonesian Coup, Pacific Affairs, mat (winter 197(-5), 557-77.

47 Adam Malik, ‘Indonesia’s Foreign Policy,’ Indonesian Quarterly, x (October 1972), 28.

48 Robert Horn, ‘Indonesia’s Response to Changing Big Power Alignments,’ Pacific Affairs, xLvi (winter 1973-4). Also J.M. van der Kroef, ‘Before the Thaw: Indonesian Attitudes Towards People’s China,’ Asian Survey, xtn (May 1973), 518-22.

49 Weinstein, ‘Indonesia, p 141.

50 New York Times, 13 August 1972.

51 News, Views and Features from Indonesia (Ottawa: Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, February 1974), p 9.

52 Ibid, p 14.

53 Ibid, p 5.

54 Frances Starner, ‘Indonesia: Much on the Mind,’ Far Eastern Economic Review, 28 January 1974, p 10.

55 See Horn, ‘Changing Soviet Policies,’ pp 524-6.

56 Address to Association for Asian Studies, annual meeting, 1 April 1974, Boston. Author’s notes.

57 The inclusion of the maintenance of national unity as an element in the first basic goal is a slight modification of Weinstein which will be explained.

58 Weinstein also suggests that one goal may be to serve the purposes of a particular antagonist in domestic political competition with Konfrontasi cited as the prime example. ‘The Uses of Foreign Policy in Indonesia,’ World Politics, xxiv (April 1972), 356-81. However, if a policy is intentionally directed at a domestic target with the expectation that secondarily it will affect an external actor, it is, by definition, no longer a ‘foreign’ policy. See Charles Hermann, ‘Policy Classification: A Key to Comparative Study of Foreign Policy,’ in James Rosenau, et al, The Analysis of International Politics (New York 1972), 58-79.

59 The Broken Triangle: Peking, Djakarta and the PKI (Baltimore 1969).

60 Quoted in ibid, p 16o.

61 Comparative Foreign Relations: Framework and Methods (Belmont, Calif, ig69), p tit.

62 ‘The Uses of Foreign Policy in Indonesia,’ p 580.

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