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Hard Interests, Soft Illusions: Southeast Asia and American Power
 9780801464034

Table of contents :
Contents
Acknowledgments
1. Beliefs about American Hegemony in Southeast Asia
2. Behind Beliefs: Hard Interests, Soft Illusions
3. The Politics and Economics of Interests
4. History Lessons
5. Professional Expertise
6. Regime Interests, Beliefs, and Knowledge
Appendix: Interviews
References
Index

Citation preview

Hard Interests, Soft Illusions

Hard Interests, Soft Illusions Southeast Asia and American Power Natasha Hamilton-Hart

CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS

ITHACA AND LONDON

Copyright © 2012 by Cornell University All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher. For information, address Cornell University Press, Sage House, 512 East State Street, Ithaca, New York 14850. First published 2012 by Cornell University Press Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hamilton-Hart, Natasha, 1969–   Hard interests, soft illusions : Southeast Asia and American power / Natasha Hamilton-Hart.    p. cm.   Includes bibliographical references and index.   ISBN 978-0-8014-5054-9 (cloth : alk. paper)   1.  Southeast Asia—Foreign relations—United States.  2.  United States— Foreign relations—Southeast Asia.  3.  Geopolitics—Southeast Asia.  4.  Geopolitics—United States.  I.  Title.   DS525.9.U6H36  2012   327.59073—dc23    2011040498 Cornell University Press strives to use environmentally responsible suppliers and materials to the fullest extent possible in the publishing of its books. Such materials include vegetable-based, low-VOC inks and acid-free papers that are recycled, totally chlorine-free, or partly composed of nonwood fibers. For further information, visit our website at www.cornellpress.cornell.edu. Cloth printing

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For Andika, who need take only the best from history.

Contents

Acknowledgments

ix

1.

Beliefs about American Hegemony in Southeast Asia

1

2.

Behind Beliefs: Hard Interests, Soft Illusions

16

3.

The Politics and Economics of Interests

48

4.

History Lessons

88

5.

Professional Expertise

143

6.

Regime Interests, Beliefs, and Knowledge

190

Appendix: Interviews References Index

203 207 237

Acknowledgments

Writing this book has often felt like an exercise in trespassing: straying over the territory of others and infringing on their kindness. I have tried not to be the sort of trespasser who leaves gates open and damages the crops. But I have been uncomfortably aware that the nature of this project suggests an unwarranted conceit on my part. Setting out to “explain” someone else’s beliefs is a presumptuous and rather impolite undertaking. Although I have relied greatly on the willingness of many individuals to share their beliefs and insights, the intellectual task undertaken in this book is not to explain individual beliefs but prevailing patterns of belief. The respondents who so very kindly gave their time to be interviewed were more sophisticated and nuanced in their answers to my questions than the fragments reproduced here can convey. Where I have sometimes noted that a respondent did not mention something during the interview, this should carry no implication that he or she was unaware or uncaring of it. I must also make it clear that those who consented to be interviewed do not necessarily agree with my argument or my interpretation of their interview responses. I have tried to ensure that I captured the meaning of interview responses accurately, but ultimately there is an unavoidable layer of interpretation for which I must take responsibility. Since many of those interviewed wished to remain anonymous, I thank them collectively here and ask for their forgiveness if I have made errors in interpreting their responses. For very helpful advice and other types of assistance, I thank (in Southeast Asian–style name order) Bruce Lockhart, Chie Ikeya, Chong Ja Ian, Don Pathan, Douglas Kammen, Evelyn Goh, Goh Benglan, Jaime Naval, Jamie Davidson, Janice Bially Mattern, Lina Alexandra, Mafie Tanyag, Michelle Tan, Mohamed Jawhar Hassan, Nguyen Do Thuy Anh, Pham Quang Minh, Puangthong Rungswadisab, Richard Stubbs, Richard Robison, Rizal Sukma, Simon Tay, Soravis Jayanama, Tanya Laohathai, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, and Zakaria Haji Ahmad. I am also grateful to Roger Haydon at Cornell University Press for his enthusiasm for the project and his sharp suggestions for making it better. Tran Anh Dao cheerfully translated Vietnamese history textbook material. As in the case of those interviewed for this book, those who helped in numerous other ways did so without necessarily agreeing with my analysis—or, in the case of those who facilitated my visits to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Hanoi, Bangkok, and Manila—being aware of the book’s argument, which was then still under development. ix

x    

 Acknowledgments

The research for this book was completed when I held a position in the Southeast Asian Studies department at the National University of Singapore, where I spent ten years immersed in an “area studies” milieu and, for most of this time, happily distant from my disciplinary home in political science. As I worked on this project, I became more appreciative of the strengths of both approaches to scholarship and, at least at times, hopeful that they could be happily married. Grants from the Academic Research Fund and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the National University of Singapore supported parts of the fieldwork on which this book draws. The events that hit the world news headlines in the years from 2002 onward form part of the backdrop of this book. I would probably not have written it, however, if it had not been for a number of outstanding historians and journalists whom I have never met in person but whose work opened my eyes.

Hard Interests, Soft Illusions

1 Beliefs about American Hegemony in Southeast Asia

There is little effusive sentimentality about the United States among foreign policy elites in Southeast Asia today. More than sixty years have passed since President Manuel Roxas of the Philippines declared that the safest course for his newly-independent country was to follow in the “glistening wake” of ­America.1 His view was emphatically rejected by many Southeast Asians at the time and does not resonate in a region formally committed to independence and norms of noninterference.2 Extravagant statements professing a kindred spirit and shared vision sometimes still adorn official speeches and communiqués, but these appear intended for diplomatic consumption only. Leaders and foreign policy thinkers in Southeast Asia more often seem to identify with Lord Palmerston’s dictum: “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.” They generally paint themselves as rational and pragmatic, dealing with external powers according to the dictates of national interest rather than sentiment. Yet behind the apparently hard-headed calculations of interest lie beliefs that cannot be explained as straightforward responses to a set of external conditions. Rather than being the product of formal reasoning, assessments of probability, or self-aware attempts to navigate tradeoffs and uncertainties, many core beliefs informing foreign policy orientations reflect commitments

1.  Quoted in Jose 1998, 407–408. 2.  Acharya 2009.

1

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 Chapter 1

and biases that are political, cognitive, and affective. Beliefs in this sense are both powerful and independent.3 This book investigates one such set of beliefs: beliefs about the international role and power of the United States held by foreign policymakers and practitioners in six Southeast Asian countries. Their beliefs are the basis on which they define some countries as potentially threatening and others as relatively benign. Such beliefs are foundational in the sense of making possible specific foreign policy decisions as well as underlying broad foreign policy orientations of alignment, opposition, or nonalignment. With some qualifications and exceptions, majorities in the foreign policy communities of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam see the United States as a relatively benign international power. Although they may dislike many aspects of U.S. foreign policy, it is close to axiomatic in foreign policy circles that the United States is, “overall,” a benign and stabilizing power. This belief underlies Southeast Asian support for a regional order in which the United States has exercised predominant power and is thus instrumental in sustaining American power in the region.4 Beliefs therefore matter. But what drives the beliefs themselves? For those who share a belief in the benign nature of American global predominance, it may seem unnecessary to explain why some people believe the United States to be benign. If people manage to see an external reality more or less as it is, why bother to explain this? This book argues that foundational foreign policy beliefs are not straightforward reflections of an external reality and in many cases cannot be tested against an external reality. They inevitably reflect the interests and position of the believer. They depend on implicit tradeoffs that are not only incommensurable but also affectively disturbing. They frequently rest on attitudinal positions of liking or disliking and affective (feeling) dispositions, neither of which can be considered accurate or inaccurate. This does not mean that beliefs are insincere or merely instrumental rationalizations. Interests influence beliefs, but how they do so depends on available information, the social organization and practices of a professional sphere, and the prevailing standards for generating knowledge. Quite a lot changes if beliefs are understood in this way. Rather than ­seeing responses to American power as primarily dependent on what the United States is or does, this approach directs our attention to those holding beliefs about the United States. For this book, it means locating foreign policy elites in domestic contests for political power and material advantage and specifying the ways in which American actions have affected domestic contenders 3.  Jervis 2006, 657. 4.  Goh 2009.

Beliefs about American Hegemony in Southeast Asia  

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for power. Understanding the beliefs of foreign policy elites in Southeast Asia also requires paying attention to the conditions under which they operate: the practical demands of their work, the information that is most abundant and available to them, and the standards of evaluation and reasoning to which they are exposed. Ultimately, this provides greater leverage for explaining shifts in beliefs about the United States—and divergent beliefs across different groups of people—than approaches that focus mostly on American material capacities, motives, or actions. American power and the uses to which it is put matter, but to understand responses to the United States, we need to look at the local processes through which beliefs are fashioned.

American Primacy The United States has made no secret of its claim to primacy in Asia. The United States Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, displays on its website a map of the Pacific Rim and the Indian Ocean. The parts marked in red—from New Zealand and Australia in the south to Japan and China in the north, an area that includes India and all of Southeast Asia—are designated its “Area of Responsibility,” while the “Area of Interest” is colored blue: Canada, the western part of South and Central America, the Middle East, and the east coast of Africa.5 This graphic, public depiction of claimed responsibilities by the United States generally passes without comment in the region, in contrast to the speculation, frequently tinged with suspicion, regarding the power projection capacities of the Chinese military.6 Other indicators of the U.S. claim to primacy are not hard to find: they are written in major policy documents, and every American president since the early 1990s has made explicit assertions of primacy.7 Although official statements since 2009 have given more space to the need to work with allies and friends, the military might of the United States continues to make it more than merely first among equals. For the time being, no other country comes close to matching its

5.  The map was prominently displayed on the website of the Joint Interagency Task Force West of the Pacific Command, at least between 2007 and April 2010, at www.pacom.mil/staff/jiatfwest/ index.shtml. 6.  China’s 2008 Defense White Paper presents its naval mission as “offshore defensive operations” with the aim of improving its capability for “integrated offshore operations, strategic deterrence and strategic counterattacks, and to gradually develop its capabilities of conducting cooperation in distant waters and countering non-traditional security threats.” Available at www.china.org.cn/­government/ central_government/2009-01/20/content_17155577.htm. The de facto Area of Responsibility of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) remains subject to speculation by outsiders. My thanks to Chong Ja Ian for very helpful advice on Chinese military maps and the PLAN. 7.  Layne 2009, 148.

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 Chapter 1

firepower, force projection capacities, technological sophistication, or economic wealth.8 This global American preeminence has endured for nearly two decades and unambiguous signs that other countries are actively seeking to balance against the United States are hard to find. This has led to a whole series of coinages, from “soft balancing” to “pre-balancing” and “hedging,” to describe what might be indicators that the rest of the world wants to see the scales weighted more evenly.9 Yet against such signs, there is an equally telling accumulation of evidence that much of the world has been fairly content to live with American primacy. In the last twenty years, a long list of countries has offered increased access to the U.S. military in terms of basing or other facilities, while only a few have chosen to reduce such access.10 Despite the widespread condemnation of American foreign policy and military adventurism in the years between 2001 and 2008, many governments stepped up programs of bilateral cooperation with the United States. This is not inconsistent with a simultaneous desire to see the “taming” of American power—a reduction in its unilateralism and aggression, greater respect for international law and multilateral institutions, and less hypocrisy on issues such as human rights.11 Nonetheless, in the absence of decisive moves to help shore up potential countervailing centers of power, enhanced cooperation on issues ranging from counterterrorism to bilateral preferential trade agreements and facilitation of American military operations speaks in favor of the idea that many governments still see the United States as the “indispensable nation” more than as a potential threat.12

The United States and Southeast Asia: Elite Views and Continued Cooperation Foreign policy elites in Southeast Asia, a region that has lived with American hegemony since the end of World War II, appear to see the United States in a relatively positive light. In 2004, when worldwide approval of the United States was at its lowest, and majorities in many countries were citing the United States as

  8.  See, for example, the measures of military, technological, and other aspects of U.S. power in Walt 2005. This does not mean that U.S. preponderance is assured for much longer, as discussed in Layne 2009.   9.  The collected articles in Brown et al. 2008 give a sense of this scholarly debate. Work on Southeast Asia tends to be less explicitly anchored in debates about polarity; see, e.g., Acharya 2005; Goh 2008. 10.  Johnson 2004. 11.  Walt 2005. 12.  Kagan 2006b.

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the greatest threat to international peace and stability, a group of Southeast Asian foreign policy experts was brought together by the Asia Foundation to voice opinions on American foreign policy. The rapporteur, a prominent Singaporean diplomat, reported some concerns but embedded them within the larger judgment that “Southeast Asia appreciates the indispensable role which the United States has played in the maintenance of regional security and its positive role in spurring the region’s rapid social and economic development. . . . Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has provided Southeast Asia with a security umbrella that has been a stabilizing factor for the development of the region.”13 There is, of course, likely to be a pro-American bias in a group of respondents selected by the Asia Foundation. However, similar references to the United States playing a positive, if not indispensable, role in ensuring regional security and prosperity over the past sixty years are commonplace in Southeast Asian foreign policy circles.14 Increased attention to American unilateralism and aggression in the wake of 2001 dented this apparent consensus in the foreign policy community only minimally. American foreign policy certainly had plenty of Southeast Asian critics in this period, but as several accounts of bilateral relations have concluded, countries in the region put whatever feelings of “unease” they may have felt behind them and moved to cement their ties with the United States.15 The chairman of a Singaporean think tank asserts, “Most in Asia do not desire an end to U.S. primacy. Indeed, U.S. presence is what they have known, lived with, and largely prospered from over the past few decades. The overarching wish of Asian states is instead that the present hour of U.S. primacy continues to provide stability and show benevolence for all, even in the face of post-9/11 exigencies and imperatives.”16 Similarly, a scholar at a security think tank notes, “American predominance and leadership continue to be acknowledged and valued generally in Southeast Asia” despite “reduced comfort” due to the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s “style of conducting business.” Nonetheless, “Southeast Asians by and large prefer U.S. dominance.”17 Although not usually acknowledged so explicitly, a hierarchical regional order led by the United States appears to be accepted by most Southeast Asian governments, just as it has been—with some caveats—by China and Japan.18 13.  Koh 2004, 35, 38. Similar language is used in the 2001 and 2008 Asia Foundation reports. Koh 2008; Yamamoto et al. 2001. 14.  For example, Chan 2005; Jawhar 1995; Kwa and Tan 2001; Tan 2007; Wanandi 2006b. Ciorciari 2010 argues that Southeast Asian states have favored limited, rather than “tight,” alignment or nonalignment since 1975. 15.  Acharya 2005; Beeson 2006; Goh 2005; Hadiz ed. 2006; Khadijah 2003; Mauzy and Job 2007. 16.  Tay 2004, 128. 17.  Goh 2005, 192. 18.  Goh 2008; Khong 2004; Van Ness 2002. Lake 2007 discusses international hierarchy more generally.

6    

 Chapter 1

Elite perceptions of a benign America do not necessarily resonate with public opinion in Southeast Asia. Indeed, consonant with declining American standing globally in the years after 2001, the United States was distinctly unpopular in some Southeast Asian countries at this time.19 Public opinion polling data, however, are volatile and tend to capture views that may be superficial and disconnected from policy and behavior.20 In most Southeast Asian countries, according to Simon Tay, “Despite some negative public opinion in many societies and perhaps private doubts, anti-Americanism has not been entrenched as state opinion. Asian leaders have instead responded quite promptly, whether as true allies or opportunistic ambulance chasers, to align their own agenda with that of the United States.”21 Singapore stands out among Southeast Asian countries as the most consistent and unequivocal in its support for U.S. foreign policy after 2001. It sent a small noncombat unit to Iraq, increased counterterrorism and military cooperation with the United States, and concluded a bilateral preferential trade agreement with the United States in 2003. Singaporean leaders vehemently took up the American claim that the invasion of Iraq was justified as a response to an alleged Iraqi weapons program.22 The Philippines and Thailand, treaty allies of the United States in the region, also joined the “coalition of the willing” in support of the war against Iraq. Thailand’s early equivocation was rumored to have been overcome with some arm-twisting of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra by American officials. Thaksin overcame any initial reluctance to support U.S. policy (as well as anger at American criticisms of his human rights record) and oversaw increased cooperation in military and security arenas as well as the pursuit of a bilateral trade agreement with the United States.23 The Philippines not only sent a small contingent to Iraq, it also invited U.S. troops to act as “advisers” in the fight against insurgency and terrorism in the south of the country. The payoffs—increased military aid and improved positioning for contracts in occupied Iraq—were widely noted.24 The sour point in relations was the withdrawal of the Philippine contingent earlier than scheduled due to the kidnapping of a Filipino national. This move, however, was taken in the context of a generally supportive, pro-American stance.25 19.  Capie 2004; Chan 2005. 20.  Katzenstein and Keohane 2007. 21.  Tay 2004, 122. 22.  Acharya 2005, 210; Koh and Chang 2003; Lee 2007. 23.  Connors 2006; Rodan and Hewison 2006. 24.  Reid 2006; Tyner 2005. 25.  Popular attitudes favored the decision to withdraw but also favored the return of the U.S. military to the Philippines; public opinion polls showed solidly positive views of the United States. Abinales 2006.

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In Indonesia and Malaysia, public anger at American foreign policy presented some constraints for political leaders. The Indonesian vice president Hamzah Haz in 2002 was among many politicians who criticized the United States publicly, including calling the United States the “real terrorist.”26 However, quiet cooperation actually increased in this period, particularly after the terrorist attack in Bali in October 2002. President Megawati Sukarnoputri was accused by political opponents of being overly supportive of the United States—but she was defeated in the presidential elections of 2004 by her own former security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a retired army general who had longstanding friendly relations with the United States, which he pursued in office.27 Malaysia’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, accused the United States of using the “war on terror” to dominate the world in public speeches to global as well as domestic audiences. However, his stinging criticisms of the United States were interpreted by many members of the foreign policy community in Malaysia to reflect a mixture of his own well-known proclivity for combative, antiwestern rhetoric and his desire to be seen as an independent spokesman for the developing world. Given the popular Malaysian antipathy to the American “war on terror” and war against Iraq, the political motive for doing so was fairly apparent.28 As noted by the head of a government-linked Malaysian institute, despite these criticisms, “Malaysia’s bilateral ties have improved significantly in the last two years.”29 Malaysia continued military cooperation with the United States and did not cancel exercises such as an annual military training program, which continued as usual in the months after the invasion of Iraq.30 Mahathir’s statements were not prominently echoed by his eventual successor, Najib Abdul Razak.31 Overall, the pattern of bilateral relations between the United States and most Southeast Asian countries suggests that the governments of these countries are basically comfortable with U.S. influence and presence. Notwithstanding bursts of criticism from outspoken leaders such as Mahathir and Thaksin, at a moment 26.  Quoted in Mauzy and Job 2007, 638. 27.  Bourchier 2006; Hadiz 2006a. 28.  Nesadurai 2006. 29.  Khadijah 2003, 99. 30.  See, e.g., the U.S. Navy’s report on its annual CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) exercises with Malaysia in 2003. Bane 2003. 31.  In a 2002 speech made in his capacity as minister of defense, Najib Abdul Razak extolled the “special relationship” between the United States and Malaysia and noted the longstanding cooperation that has existed between the two countries as well as the increased cooperation since 2001. He said that the United States “averages more than 1,000 overflights per year. Since September 11, this number has increased dramatically, and all requests have been approved. . . . 1,500 Malaysian defense personnel have benefited from the U.S.-sponsored IMET (international military education and training) program.” He went on to note the “more than 75 U.S. military ship visits in the past two and a half years.” Najib 2002.

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 Chapter 1

when U.S. unipolar preponderance at the global level was unprecedented and its foreign policy was attracting extraordinary levels of condemnation, the main response from Southeast Asian governments was to increase cooperation and continue efforts to deepen engagement with the United States. Popular opinion set some constraints on cooperation in the case of Malaysia and Indonesia but has not had enduring consequences. Perceptions of the United States were returning to more positive levels even before the end of the George W. Bush presidency.32 Indeed, only a short while afterwards—at a time when most causes for grievance against the United States remained fundamentally unaltered—positive views of the United States were significantly higher than negative views in many countries.33 Not only is public opinion volatile, observe Peter Katzenstein and Robert Keohane, but “the consequences of anti-American views are more difficult to detect than one would think on the basis of claims made by the Left. . . . Superficial manifestations of anti-Americanism seem to have few systematic effects on policy.”34 There is no assurance that this will continue.35 But if foundational beliefs about the United States are in the process of changing, an explanation of why this is so needs to begin with an understanding of where the beliefs come from. Why were Southeast Asian policy elites inclined for so long to see U.S. hegemony as benign?36 Debates about U.S. primacy present glimpses of how other parts of the world respond to the United States. Critics of the United States cite negative public opinion polls and nonstate retaliation against the United States, while defenders claim discontent is peripheral and transitory.37 There is a cluster of work on public opinion and social attitudes, and some collections present avowedly elite or nonrepresentative views.38 It remains that far more attention has been given to the United States—its motives, actions, and ideas—than to the countries affected by it. Integrating analyses of what the United States does with explanations of how other countries perceive it is a challenge for critics of U.S. foreign policy in particular. They have catalogued the negative consequences of

32.  International opinion polls showed plummeting support for the United States from 2002, with majorities or pluralities in many countries judging American influence to be mostly negative. At the nadir of its standing in 2003–2004, polls showed the United States being identified as a greater threat to world peace than any other country. By 2006, however, opinions in several countries had become more positive. Carlson and Nielson 2008; Katzenstein and Keohane 2007. 33.  BBC 2010. 34.  Katzenstein and Keohane 2007, 11. 35.  Mahbubani 2008; Tay 2010. 36.  This does not preclude significant points of conflict or a desire to maximize leverage in the relationship. Ciorciari 2010; McMahon 1999 provide overviews of U.S.–Southeast Asia relations. 37.  Compare, e.g., Johnson 2000; Kagan 2006a, 2006b. 38.  Carlson and Nielson 2008; Farber 2007; Katzenstein and Keohane 2007; Lennon 2002.

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American foreign policy and may have explained why people “hate America,” but they have not paid serious attention to the question of why, given these grievances, “blowback” has been so limited.39 For structural realists who predict a return to balancing behavior and the erosion of unipolarity, the question must be why signs of balancing against the United States by great powers (and bandwagoning with such powers by smaller states)—to the extent they exist—have been so ambiguous and so slow to materialize. After all, the United States has presented the world with the challenge of primacy since the beginning of the 1990s. The simplest explanation for the lack of clear balancing responses is that the United States is not perceived as a potential threat because it is not a threat.40 The belief that U.S. power and presence in Southeast Asia is, overall, positive for the region is almost axiomatic in foreign policy circles. Before concluding that those who see the United States as a distinctively benign hegemonic power have got it right, however, we must investigate more fully the politics behind perceptions of the United States and the question of whose perceptions matter in policy terms.

The Argument in Brief Beliefs about American power in Southeast Asia merit investigation not because they necessarily rest on misperceptions (although sometimes they do) but because they rest on a combination of specific interests and illusions. These interests and illusions deviate from common understandings of the sources of foreign policy. The interests that drive orientations towards the United States are primarily the regime interests of the governing party or ruling elite in each country—that is, the interests of the country’s political leadership in securing power and rewarding supporters and, in subsidiary fashion, the career interests of practitioners and others in the foreign policy community who depend on the support of political powerholders.41 For the noncommunist political elites of Southeast Asia, notwithstanding some ups and downs in bilateral relations, the 39.  Johnson 2000; Sardar and Davies 2002. 40.  On the United States as a benign hegemon, see, e.g., Ikenberry 2000; Walt 2002. 41.  This book thus draws inspiration from arguments about the domestic political foundations of alignment and foreign policy; see Ayoob 1998; Christensen 1996; Narizny 2003, 2007; Putnam 1988; Schweller 2004. In relation to Southeast Asia, the argument that domestic concerns shape foreign and security policy is well established; see Alagappa 1998; Ganesan and Amer 2010; Leifer 2000. However, studies of foreign policy and security in Southeast Asia routinely blur the distinction between presumed aggregate national interests (and threats to them) and the interests specific to governing regimes or ruling coalitions. Such studies also generally accept policymaker beliefs as exogenous givens; exceptions include Beeson 2006; Hadiz ed. 2006; Jones 2010; Robison 2006; Sukma

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 Chapter 1

United States has been a largely benign power over the last sixty years. Nothing about the international structure of power in the postwar world dictated de facto or formal alignment with the United States. Instead, the origins of alignment lie in the outcome of domestic political struggles in these Southeast Asian countries and the sectional interests of contenders for power who seized the opportunities presented by American anticommunism. These interests are rather different from the aggregate national interests and considerations of general stability to which policymakers and foreign policy thinkers so often refer when explaining their beliefs. While cynics or critics may be quick to dismiss their beliefs as insincere and self-serving, this judgment is unsatisfactory as an explanation for beliefs. Beliefs may be self-serving but nonetheless sincere.42 The interests of members of the foreign policy community and the epistemic environment in which they work create cues that make it plausible to conclude that the role of the United States in the region confers general, rather than personal or sectional, benefits. The epistemic environment in this sense consists of both the information that is prominently accessible through work tasks and routine exposure and the epistemic standards for generating and validating knowledge within a professional sphere. Taken together with a number of common cognitive, motivated, and affective biases and shortcuts in belief formation and belief maintenance, the epistemic environment shapes beliefs about the United States and other contenders for hegemonic status in ways that deviate from common assumptions that they are the product of conscious processes of evaluation and probabilistic reasoning.43 This book terms such beliefs illusions, but this does not mean that they are necessarily inaccurate. Attitudes cannot be either accurate or inaccurate, given that they are evaluative orientations of favor or disfavor. Evaluative and emotive orientations are, however, important influences on how individuals assess evidence, perceive credibility, and understand their own interests.44 Certain beliefs may be accurate or inaccurate as measured against an externally verifiable standard. Later chapters show that some specific beliefs about the United States and

1999. Analyses of foreign economic policy, in contrast, more often take domestic interests and politics seriously; see Nesadurai 2003; Ravenhill 2003, 2009; Solingen 1998; Stubbs 2000. 42.  Research on “motivated” biases in belief formation and maintenance bears out this claim. Chapter 2 discusses findings from cognitive and social psychology. 43.  In arguing that foundational beliefs are often the product of unconscious habits and biases in information processing rather than conscious calculations of costs, benefits, and risks according to the norms of social science, this approach resonates with some constructivist and “practice”-based theorizing. See, e.g., Hopf 2002; Pouliot 2008. Its microfoundations, however, are more consistent with analyses that built on insights from psychology, such as Jervis 1976, 2010; Khong 1995; Mercer 1996; Tetlock 2005. 44.  Mercer 2010.

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the regional environment held by policymakers and practitioners are inaccurate. In many cases, the accuracy of beliefs is inherently difficult to verify. Even with hindsight, they may reasonably be subject to competing interpretations and counterfactual arguments. When assessments relate to complex and contingent future events or counterfactual historical scenarios, the inherent uncertainties involved make it difficult to make an a priori determination of accuracy. Yet policymakers are frequently called upon to make judgment calls on issues of this type.45 The beliefs and attitudes that allow them to do so are illusory in that they may turn out to be more or less accurate, but their relative accuracy is largely incidental. In some ways they are akin to rumors. As Ron Robin argued in a study of American visions of the enemy during the Cold War, threat perceptions were based on rumor—“an amalgam of opaque knowledge and cultural codes”—and “veracity had little to do with the rumor’s reception.”46 Beliefs and attitudes that are illusions in this sense should not be mistaken for accidental or random products. They are shaped, first, by the direct political, economic, and career interests of powerholders, foreign policy practitioners, and those in the wider foreign policy community. In the cognitive processes by which information is processed, judgments are formed, and decisions are made, self-interest exerts an influence through multiple pathways. Second, beliefs and attitudes are shaped by a set of knowledge-related constructs, including information and judgments of how to interpret it, as well as emotional responses. While these could extend to a broad range of “inputs,” this book focuses on two sources: national historical narratives and professional expertise circulating in the foreign policy community. Both history and professional expertise are becoming more pluralistic, due to domestic political change and declining U.S. material capacity. Nonetheless, national historical narratives and professional expertise still, to varying degrees, lend themselves to the formation of beliefs about the United States as mostly a benign power. To many, the idea that knowledge is not neutral but rather is shaped by powerholders working to further their own interests is not novel or surprising. Yet there are large gaps when it comes to applying this idea in foreign policy contexts. Mainstream international relations approaches have been largely divorced from studies of the intellectual foundations of the Cold War.47 The implications of these studies have not been explored in scholarship on international relations and foreign policy in Southeast Asia. Historians and scholars of the region have begun the task of documenting American influence on scholarship, development

45.  Jervis 1997. 46.  Robin 2001, 3–4. 47.  Oren 2003; Parmar 2006; Robin 2001; Saunders 1999.

12    

 Chapter 1

knowledge, and policy in Southeast Asia during and after the Cold War.48 What we know of such American influence in Southeast Asia, exercised through education, training, sponsorship, the provision of consultants, and the activities of private foundations, points to the need to extend our understanding in two directions. First, we know relatively little about how Southeast Asian actors themselves propagated beliefs about the United States and the foreign policies of their own countries. Second, if we concede that beliefs and interests intersect in significant ways, we are left with the challenge of explaining beliefs in a way that acknowledges the role of interests but does not lapse into crude and ultimately uninformative judgments of key players as either wicked or stupid. By looking at both the “hard interests” of powerholders and the “soft illusions” that sustain beliefs, the approach followed here avoids looking at either material factors or ideational constructs in isolation. Ideas, as Thomas Risse-Kappen has noted, “do not float freely.”49 It is necessary to draw attention to their moorings in hard interests and the intermediating structures of knowledge production. An explanation for beliefs should be able to identify reasons why they change, albeit with lags and unevenness. As American capacity, or willingness, to sustain a foreign policy that meets the interests of both domestic constituencies and foreign friends declines, the interests that Southeast Asian powerholders have in an American-led order can be expected to decline. Gradually, this will modify the epistemic environment in foreign ministries, think tanks, and university settings, as different work tasks alter the production and reproduction of information and reduce the density of personal ties. The distribution of information relevant to understanding the role of the United States may also change independently of American capacity or behavior. If members of the foreign policy community were to change their media diets or intellectual exposure, for example, to sources that are markedly less “U.S.positive,” their impressions of the United States would become more negative. As national histories become increasingly contested, we can expect the past to furnish revised foreign policy lessons. Whether such shifts in knowledge production

48.  Berger 2004 has done the most to link the intellectual, political, and policy strands in the transformation of Southeast Asia during the Cold War; see also Frey 2003. Scholars working in the tradition of “area studies” have gone the furthest to demonstrate and challenge western (particularly American) influence on knowledge production. See F. Alatas 2006; Goh forthcoming; Riaz 2006; Sears 2007. Southeast Asia–based international relations theory and teaching have been at least as much influenced by western scholarship but mostly lack the self-conscious revisionism and valorization of local perspectives now current in area studies approaches. Chong 2007; Chong and HamiltonHart 2009. 49.  Risse-Kappen 1994. Scholarship on ideas in international relations is wide-ranging and extensive. See, for example, Acharya 2009; Barnett and Finnemore 2004; Finnemore 1996; Goldstein and Keohane 1993; Haas 1990. Despite the centrality of cognitive processes in the transmission of ideas and norms, most strands of this literature do not discuss these processes per se.

Beliefs about American Hegemony in Southeast Asia  

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and exposure occur depends a great deal on the outcome of domestic political contests in Southeast Asian countries. If different groups with different memories, agendas, and conceptions of interest capture political influence, we should then see changes in attitudes to the United States and beliefs about the role it plays in the region.

Evidence and Approach This book examines the beliefs of members of the foreign policy community in six Southeast Asian countries that vary in terms of their history of regime interaction with the United States and the epistemic environment facing foreign policymakers and practitioners. Elites in three of these countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore—can be considered true “believers” in the proposition that the United States is a fundamentally benign great power. With some exceptions, members of the foreign policy community in these countries are remarkably unified and certain in their core foreign policy beliefs. This corresponds not only with regime interests in American hegemony since the 1960s but also with high levels of uniformity in the epistemic environment. More than in the other countries studied here, discordant information, competing conceptions of national interest, and historical narratives that contest elite-centered national history occupy marginal positions in foreign policy circles. More than in the other countries, social and political actors with competing perspectives, interests, and memories were not only comprehensively defeated politically but also silenced in academic and policy arenas. In the case of Malaysia and Indonesia, there is a wide gulf between the beliefs accepted as axiomatic in foreign policy circles and those that resonate in other sections of society. Foreign policy circles in Thailand and the Philippines are more divided and ambivalent. Regime interests have been well served by the American role in the region, but the epistemic environment since the 1970s has been markedly more pluralistic than in Indonesia, Malaysia, or Singapore. Political elites have not monopolized the production of historical knowledge to the same extent, and foreign policy circles include those exposed to a variegated set of informational and normative cues regarding the United States. Finally, the foreign policy community in Vietnam includes at least a section that can best be described as “converted” in their beliefs about the United States. With the reorientation of the Vietnamese economy starting in 1986, elements within the Vietnamese political elite have had clear interests in developing friendly ties with the United States. On the other hand, given the history of American aggression against Vietnam, the epistemic environment inescapably includes many negative cues about the United States. However, this environment is also shaped by what are in some

14    

 Chapter 1

ways even more negative cues about China, cues that provide reasons for relatively positive beliefs about the United States. In addition, the epistemic environment is being reshaped by increasing exposure to American scholarship, media, and person-to-person engagement. Chapter 2 presents the argument that regime interests can acquire the status of more encompassing “national” interests in the eyes of powerholders and foreign policy practitioners, without the process necessarily involving duplicity. Chapter 3 provides evidence of the political and economic interests in American hegemony held by ruling elites and their allies in noncommunist Southeast Asia. In each country, the political groups that emerged as winners in domestic conflicts in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s were those that benefited—in political and material terms—from the American role in the region. Their defeated opponents, conversely, had strong reasons to see the United States in a very different light. Chapter 4 retells the national histories of these countries in a rather different fashion, through the lens of mainstream history as it has been produced and reproduced in textbooks, official histories, and influential memoirs. Particularly for those in the circle of “believers”—Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia—the historical role of the United States is judged to have been benign and in many ways beneficent, and this information serves to justify characterizations of the United States in the present as essentially benign if sometimes aberrant and irritating. Those who have been exposed to different historical narratives form different judgments about the United States in the past and the present. It matters, therefore, what kind of history members of the foreign policy community in Southeast Asia learn. Three features of national histories in Southeast Asia are relevant to understanding beliefs about the United States. First, national histories have been shaped to legitimate the position of powerholders, while their opponents have been either written out of history or demonized as treasonous. This bias is most securely established in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, less so in the Philippines and Thailand. Second, the biases in national history create pathways for identifying foreign friends and enemies. The demonization of domestic leftist political opponents created an easy—but remarkably poorly evidenced— association with China as a hostile power. Conversely, because the much greater interventions and “meddling” carried out by the United States benefited powerholders in the noncommunist countries, its historical record is viewed as benign or simply disappears from sight. Third, the sanitization of history makes it easy, in both a cognitive and an affective sense, to form confident, generalized beliefs about the historical role of the United States. Chapter 5 turns to the production and consumption of professional expertise in foreign policy circles. It argues that although foreign policy expertise is rooted

Beliefs about American Hegemony in Southeast Asia  

    15

in the political interests of powerholders, it is not reproduced in obviously political or coercive ways. Evidence is drawn from both the metacognitive statements of members of the foreign policy community and a reconstruction of the work practices, social organization, information environment, and implicit epistemologies of the foreign policy community. The chapter shows that there are systematic biases in the evidence that is most available within the foreign policy world and that members of the foreign policy community rarely engage in probabilistic reasoning or effortful knowledge-testing strategies. Finally, the chapter provides a brief overview of the affective biases prevailing in foreign policy circles, particularly in terms of the social relations and diffuse cultural consumption that can be expected to make positive beliefs about the United States more likely. This book does not address the question of which foundational beliefs about the United States are correct. Whether the United States has, on balance, played a positive role in Southeast Asia over the last sixty years inevitably depends on where one stands, in political and normative as well as literal terms. To give just one example, the decision by the United States to ignore, and effectively support, the Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor was stabilizing in the eyes of many players and certainly did smooth Indonesian-U.S. relations, but “stabilizing” is not a term that makes any sense from a Timorese perspective. Later chapters show that some specific auxiliary beliefs commonly deployed in foreign policy circles to justify generalized claims about the United States are either incorrect or deeply contestable. On the other hand, foreign policy­makers and practitioners have judged where their interests lie moderately accurately, even as they have often failed to recognize that their interests are not shared by all groups within their own country, let alone the region. The broader claim advanced here is that most members of the foreign policy community do not form beliefs about the world around them in ways that social science suggests that they should and presumes that they do. They do not update their beliefs neutrally in light of available information and they learn far more from social authority and “doing” than self-conscious reasoning about the quality of evidence or the internal coherence of causal arguments. Ultimately, the content of professional expertise and the information most readily available to practitioners (including the historical knowledge that informs judgments about the present and the future) are shaped by the political needs of powerholders and the constituencies that gain footholds in policy arenas. Domestic political contestation and increasing pluralism in Southeast Asian countries, therefore, will drive changes in beliefs about the United States at least as much as changes in what the United States does or how powerful it is.

2 Behind Beliefs Hard Interests, Soft Illusions

As the tides of the Pacific War turned against Japan in 1944, Prince Konoe Fumimaro wrote that “leftist revolution” is “as frightening, or more frightening, than defeat.”1 Not long afterwards, most of the Japanese elite embraced the external power that had defeated their country in war and cemented an enduring, friendly relationship with the United States. The prince’s assessment of the relative seriousness of the two threats facing the established order in Japan was prescient: under the American occupation, substantial elite continuity was maintained and any prospect of “leftist revolution” firmly extinguished.2 Across the sea, in China, a similar moral priority was accorded to domestic regime interests by the Communist Party, for whom “China’s territorial and administrative integrity under the ‘bad’ GMD [Guomindang] state was worth nothing,” as Michael Sheng has written.3 These two examples, although drawn from particularly acute conflicts, suggest a more general insight: perceptions of external threat are tied to assessments of what they mean for particular domestic actors. Evaluative beliefs about the United States—whether it is a benign hegemon, for example, or a destabilizing potential threat—cannot be divorced from the interests, position, and perceptions of the believer.

1.  Quoted in Schaller 1985, 5–6. 2.  Borden 1984; Dower 1999; Schaller 1985. 3.  Sheng 1997, 190. See also Chen 1994. 16

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This chapter sets out the argument for seeing core evaluative beliefs about the United States held by members of the foreign policy community in Southeast Asia as ultimately driven by the political and material interests of ruling elites and their key constituencies, mediated by the career interests of foreign policy professionals. Their particular interests, however, tend to be represented as broadly encompassing national interests or even shared regional interests in loosely defined goods such as stability and welfare. This occurs, in part, because of a human tendency to form self-serving beliefs but also because of identifiable features of the environment in which foreign policymakers and professionals operate. The epistemic cues prevailing in the foreign policy ­community—information, the nature of foreign policy work, and standards of professional expertise—make it easier and more natural to form certain beliefs about the United States rather than others. Affective influences tend to work in the same direction. The beliefs that emerge are “illusions” in the sense that external measures of validity and probability are not central to their formation or maintenance.

Interests: Political, Economic, and Professional American military, political, and economic power has served the tangible interests of many Southeast Asians. These interests are real, and the benefits accruing from the exercise of American power over the last sixty years are not illusory. Indeed, it would be rather strange if policymakers and foreign policy practitioners persistently failed to perceive their interests correctly over many decades. Their interests, however, cannot sensibly be defined in terms of the “national interest” or the incentives created by the distribution of power in the international state system. Just as perception is a process that ultimately resides in the individual, so perceptions of interest, threat, and opportunity are inherently personal. The “national interest” that is repeatedly invoked by policymakers does not exist in any objective, determined fashion.4 Influential actors get to define the national interest, and it is most plausible that they do so in terms of their own interests. To be sure, powerholders all have constituencies whose support they need to maintain, and they construct political coalitions with this in mind.5

4.  This general maxim is foundational in approaches to international relations that emphasize domestic institutions and interests. Constructivist theories argue the case from a systemic perspective. See, e.g., Finnemore 1996. These arguments are, of course, contested by structuralist approaches. 5.  How narrowly policymakers will construct their “winning coalitions” remains subject to theoretical and empirical debate. See Riker 1962 for an early statement.

18    

 Chapter 2

Political constituencies and coalitions vary in terms of how broad they are and in terms of what they demand as the price for their support. Thus policymakers may at times define national interests in ways that correspond with the interests of a broad majority of people in their country. But while no political leader can afford to neglect all sectors of potential support, most are strategically selective in building and maintaining their support bases. And in Southeast Asia, political leaders have governed for most of the last sixty years on the basis of relatively narrow political coalitions that have consistently excluded significant sections of the population.6 We can take as a working proposition that policymakers and practitioners in the foreign policy sector wish to maintain their positions of power and influence, secure material benefits for themselves and their supporters, and gain advancement and prestige within self-defined circles of relevance. We can thus expect their views of the United States to reflect the ways in which the United States has promoted or harmed their particular interests. In the case of America’s Southeast Asian friends and allies, the argument here is that the exercise of American power in Southeast Asia has served the interests of national powerholders in two major ways: •  It has bolstered their political position against potential domestic competitors; and •  It has allowed them to pay off supporters and, in some cases, to ­appropriate material gains individually. In consequence, foreign policy professionals and those in the foreign policy community broadly defined—officials in foreign ministries, policy advisers, think tank analysts, policy-oriented academics, and commentators—have career interests in subscribing to, and perpetuating, a body of professional expertise that views American power in largely positive terms. Rather than being a source of independent, professional analysis offered “without fear or favor,” the career incentives of policy advisers tend to ensure that their views are aligned with the needs of powerholders, although in most cases this does not involve overtly coercive mechanisms.7 To the extent that there is differentiation between ­powerholders and their professional policy advisors, advisors in almost every case are in a 6.  On the significance of “contentious politics” in the early postwar decades, see Slater 2010. Evidence is discussed in chapter 3. 7.  The dynamics surrounding the production of professional expertise in foreign policy circles thus create an intimate connection with powerholders. In contrast, much work on “epistemic communities” locates them in at least somewhat more independent positions. Haas 1990 presents a seminal analysis of the role of experts in habit-driven institutions.

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subordinate position vis-à-vis the political powerholders whom they advise. Academics and think tank analysts outside the bureaucracy may stand outside the formal government hierarchy, but governments in Southeast Asia have exercised both direct and indirect influence on their activities. As we shall see in chapter 5, there have been few sharp disjunctures between politically expedient policy advice and recognized professional expertise when it comes to foreign policy issues in Southeast Asia. This sketch of interest and motivation is commonplace in studies of the domestic policy process, where assumptions that policymakers are motivated by concerns to maximize aggregate national gains would be generally be dismissed as naive. In the terrain of domestic politics, what counts as a gain in either welfare or security is widely recognized as political and contestable: decisions about how to prioritize the pursuit of different values (such as tradeoffs between equity and economic growth, individual liberty and public order, or environmental sustainability and immediate consumption) are not expected to have any objectively rational, distributively neutral solution. Most models of domestic politics and political economy take for granted that outcomes reflect the political and economic strength of competing groups and coalitions, tempered in various ways by institutional context and embedded norms. In contrast, the field of international relations as an area of scholarly study frequently takes foreign policy to be generically different from domestic policy. Particularly on strategic issues, political leaders are sometimes claimed to have relative autonomy from domestic political pressures and interest group politics. Instead, allegedly powerful incentives and constraints emanating from the nature of the international system shape foreign policy. In the materialist schools of thought that characterize neorealist approaches, these are the imperatives for national survival generated by an anarchic self-help system. The self-help nature of the international system of formally sovereign states is thus supposed to create incentives for states to pursue a judicious mix of “guns and butter,” either through their own efforts or through alliances with other states.8 When it comes to secondary powers, structural realism is rather indeterminate in its predictions. In one influential version, secondary powers will lean against the dominant power by “flocking to the weaker side” when they can.9 Other scholars argue that alignment with the rising power is characteristic of secondary powers.10 In either

  8.  See Powell 1993, 1994 for a critique of the notion that international anarchy itself is determinative in producing this mix.   9.  Waltz 1979, 126. 10.  For example, Ross 2006.

20    

 Chapter 2

version, numerous situational qualifiers regarding how the boundaries of the relevant part of the international system are drawn (whether states respond to the distribution of power in their proximate neighborhood, the broader region in which they are located, or the global balance), how power is operationalized, and how empirical assessments of the power of particular countries are made all make predictions rather indeterminate. If threat rather than power is the key variable determining foreign policy alignment, as proposed in Stephen Walt’s influential “balance of threat” theory, the door is further opened to a host of political and perceptual factors. Although the conditions for a power to appear threatening can be specified in terms of military power, geographic proximity, and perceived intentions, in application these factors can be quite elastic.11 How, for example, will judgments about whether another country has revisionist aims be made? On what basis will “proximity” be assessed, given the power projection capacities of global powers? In the absence of clear and uncontested answers to such questions, incentives emanating from the international system are indeterminate. Competing approaches have forcefully argued that the international system is not characterized by pervasive balancing and that domestic interests and political conditions have more powerful effects on foreign policy than systemic incentives. Motivated by a range of interests, states have pursued a variety of other strategies, including seeking security and other benefits by aligning with the dominant power; “underbalancing” even in the face of a threatening power can occur when it meets domestic political needs.12 Powerful interest groups are likely to push for policies that they favor.13 And while special interests do not always succeed in their attempts to influence foreign policy, there is good evidence that the domestic political concerns of political leaders have often driven their foreign policy choices, even on extraordinarily consequential issues.14 In postwar Asia, some form of alignment with the dominant power has been the most common choice for secondary powers, but there are good reasons for supposing that the motives that drive this alignment are located at the domestic level. A major line of argument in security studies of “third world” or developing states is that domestic concerns predominate more often than not.15 In the case of Southeast Asia, the “comprehensive security” goals of Southeast Asian

11.  Walt 1987, 22–26. 12.  Lake 2007; Schroeder 1994; Schweller 1994, 2004. 13.  Financial sector interests, for example, predictably favor alternatives to war even in situations where competing constructions of “national interest” see it as the best (or least bad) option. Kirshner 2007. 14.  For example, Christensen 1996; Craig and Logevall 2009; Narizny 2003, 2007; Putnam 1988. 15.  Ayoob 1998; Barnett and Levy 1991; David 1991.

Behind Beliefs  

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state elites have frequently led them to accord greater priority to domestic rather than foreign threats, with the latter often viewed through the lens of the former.16 Helen Nesadurai has argued that the priority accorded domestic threats in Southeast Asia is the product of a search for regime security, with the “survival of the incumbent government and its elite allies as the paramount goal of security policy.”17 Given the fine and contentious line between national security and regime security, such a claim is hard to test definitively. Chapter 3 presents evidence that speaks to the more limited claims that competing political groups in Southeast Asia strongly contested the foreign policy orientation of those who emerged as friends and allies of the United States and that competing political groups were affected in very different ways by the American projection of power and influence in the region. Arguments that give priority to the sectional political concerns of contending groups imply that no consistent sanction exists for failing to prioritize aggregate national welfare or security. If the international system were truly like a competitive market, making the wrong choices would result in exit from the system—the equivalent of corporate bankruptcy or takeover.18 However, units in the postwar state system hardly ever exit as the result of external takeover. The decades since World War II have seen a proliferation of at least nominally sovereign units that do not seem compelled to adopt effective provisions for their military defense or economic advancement.19 This proliferation suggests there are weak systemic incentives for performance maximization. Indeed, the role that domestic conflicts have played in the proliferation of states (including cases of actual “exit,” in which the predecessor state ceases to exist) suggests that powerholders and contenders for power face strong incentives to prioritize their particular interests. Regime survival may trump national survival.

Competing Interests and Orientations Toward the United States in Southeast Asia In the Southeast Asian countries considered in this book, the broad contours of how powerholders perceive the United States have their roots in domestic contests for power. The interests that have driven beliefs about the United States are those of ruling elites, which have for the most part been well served by the exercise of American power in the region since World War II. Conversely, as dis-

16.  Alagappa 1998; Tilman 1987. 17.  Nesadurai 2004, 468. 18.  Waltz 1979. 19.  Jackson 1993.

22    

 Chapter 2

cussed more fully in chapter 3, other identifiable groups have lost in relative political and economic terms. Whether these countries benefited “overall” remains an open question, but of more relevance for this book’s argument is that cost-benefit calculations about a hypothetical national interest are not what underpin assessments of the United States. In civil war contexts, it is obvious that claims of defending national security and promoting national interests are both partisan and subordinate to the goal of prevailing in the conflict. When foreign allies are brought in by either side, it is to serve their interests in winning that contest. If we consider Southeast Asian domestic struggles for power, the subservience of foreign policy to domestic political ends has been starkly evident in past alliances between the United States and contenders for power in actual civil war contexts. In pre-1975 Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, particular powerholders (for example, Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam, General Lon Nol in Cambodia) or aspirants for domestic power (military actors in Laos) were prepared to invite a foreign military force to wage war on their territory, against their own populations.20 In the case of Vietnam, they were prepared to see their country divided. Clearly, to the extent that American support was seen as an asset rather than a liability for these U.S.-aligned forces, the interests served were not objectively identifiable aggregate national ones in either welfare or security.21 To anticipate the evidence provided in the next chapter, even in non–civil war contexts, the role of the United States in the region can sensibly be described as coinciding with the partisan interests of contenders in domestic conflicts. It was not preordained that the states that became Cold War allies or friends of the United States would align themselves in the way that they did. They emerged as allies (South Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand) or friends (Malaysia, Singapore, post-1965 Indonesia) not because of the distribution of power in the region or the global balance of power or any necessary tendency for secondary powers either to balance against or to bandwagon with the powerful. Rather, alignment with the United States was the outcome of domestic power struggles. In addition to the domestic wars fought in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, political conflicts in Singapore, Malaya (the forerunner to today’s Malaysia), Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines involved contention over foundational aspects of economic and political development in these countries.22 Political challenges to

20.  Jacobs 2004; McCoy 2002. 21.  It is nonetheless probable that both U.S. allies in these civil wars and their domestic opponents believed that they were acting in the best interests of their country. 22.  Slater 2010.

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ruling groups included insurgent warfare as well as nonviolent mobilization and in some cases required massive coercive force to defeat. America’s friends and allies in the region were those states where such domestic struggles were won by groups who stood to gain from a U.S.-defined regional and global order. Indeed, support from the United States was a practical tool for opportunistic contenders in domestic power struggles. It was not inevitable that the pro-U.S. groups would emerge as victors. In South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, they obviously did not. In other cases, neutralist or leftist groups either maintained themselves in power well into the postindependence period, as in Cambodia and Indonesia, or showed themselves capable of mobilizing significant political strength, losing only after hard-fought battles for political supremacy. In Singapore, the political left was only narrowly defeated in the early 1960s. In Indonesia, the legal communist party was defeated only when members and alleged sympathizers were bloodily suppressed in the mass killings of the mid1960s. In Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, where counterinsurgency wars were waged, the cards may have been stacked in favor of pro-U.S. groups, but even in these cases, rival groups cannot be dismissed as fringe elements with no meaningful constituency. The policy elite in early postwar Thailand included a substantial civilian component that wished for an independent foreign policy. As shown by Soravis Jayanama on the basis of Thai records, this was the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—a conservative institution staffed by many aristocratic landholders—which opposed the key decision by which Thailand threw in its lot with the United States, the decision in February 1950 to recognize the French-installed Bao Dai government in Vietnam. As Jayanama writes, “Many capable Thai officials and citizens at the time believed that Bangkok could maintain an independent, pragmatic, and (perhaps even) nonaligned foreign policy.”23 When an alternative political coalition came to power in Thailand’s democratic interregnum between 1973 and 1976, one of the major foreign policy decisions made was to close American military bases in Thailand—at the very moment of communist victories in neighboring states. In each of these countries, domestic challengers for power were significant at pivotal moments and held very different ideas regarding alignment with the United States. With their victories far from uncontested, it is difficult to assume that the winning contenders for power who forged alignments of convenience with the United States had any superior claim to define their countries’ national interests. They had no obviously greater claim to nationalism than the groups they

23.  Jayanama 2001, 221.

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 Chapter 2

opposed. Indeed, in some countries (Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines), the pro-American victors in domestic struggles had decidedly less credibility in claiming the nationalist ground than their opponents, who were often much more closely involved in anticolonial, nationalist struggles. Further, the pro-American groups were not in any obvious way endowed with superior capacity to discern their countries’ true interests, nor were they more motivated to pursue broader, more encompassing definitions of national interest than their opponents. America’s friends and allies were obviously shrewd in seizing the opportunity to benefit from the Cold War context. And, with hindsight, centrists and leftists who had initially hoped for U.S. acceptance of their policies of neutrality appear naive. But the hindsight with which we view their countries’ diverging fortunes during the Cold War, which on many measures massively favored those who attached themselves to American coattails, should not obscure the contingent and uncertain—indeed, unknowable—basis for this outcome when viewed from the perspective of the 1950s, 1960s, or even 1970s. And the more critical an eye with which one views the capitalist success stories of the region even to the present day, which in every case have a significant underside, the more the counterfactual history of what would had happened had the “other side” won appears as an equally possible alternative trajectory. One reason why this Cold War history of the origins of alignment with the United States matters, and is given further attention in the next chapter, is that most of these countries are still under the control of the same ruling elites or their identifiable heirs, in some cases literal descendants. Furthermore, decisions made by the predecessors of today’s powerholders have ongoing consequences. Economically, powerholders in the Cold War period committed their countries to economic strategies dependent upon the United States as a source of capital and external market.24 This model of development laid the ground for later policy choices, such as partial financial deregulation and the pursuit of preferential trade agreements. Those who have benefited disproportionately from such strategies have been pivotal in policy choices that have entrenched an economic structure oriented to the U.S. market and, at least partially, consistent with an American-defined global trade and financial regime. The difficulties faced by Asian countries in reorienting their economies toward more domestic demand-led economic growth were evident when exports from East Asia crashed in the wake of the economic crisis that hit the United States and other countries, in 2008. Restructuring growth away from an exportled model has proven exceptionally difficult for more than purely technical or

24.  Stubbs 2005.

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fiscal reasons.25 It is also impeded by the entrenched interests and institutional infrastructure in many of these countries, which have for decades been predicated on export-led growth: industrial relations regimes that have systematically disempowered labor, the near absence of social protection (which adds to other incentives for high savings rates), and political bargains that have allowed protected economic enclaves of favored interests in the resource extraction and nontradables sectors. This structure of economic dependence and complementary interests in a U.S.-defined global economy is not permanent. It is likely to change as the American economy declines in relative terms. Nonetheless, it has produced significant constraints and incentives for national leaders in Southeast Asia when assessing where their interests lie. In the security realm, the Cold War–era alignments that were an outgrowth of domestic political contests saw the development of what is often called a “huband-spokes” security structure in the Asian region, with the United States acting as the hub and maintaining bilateral security relationships with its allies. For a number of reasons, including the racial prejudices of American officials, these hub-and-spokes relationships never took on a multilateral form.26 Entrenched, U.S.-centered bilateralism thus stunted the development of more multilateral forms of regional cooperation, which remained limited to the pygmy regionalism of ASEAN until well into the 1990s. For all the ink spilled over the promise and performance of regional security multilateralism since the 1990s, this is a history that favors the reproduction of routine references to the United States as the essential source of stability and “balance” in the region.27 The origins of this perceived dependence, however, lie in the political positioning and interests of powerholders of previous decades. A final ongoing consequence of substantial continuity in the ruling elites of most Southeast Asian countries is that powerholders have committed themselves to political strategies dependent on maintaining a view of the past—and in particular their own role in it—that resists revision of earlier alignments. Disengaging from the core tenets that underpinned alignment with the United States without calling into question entrenched understandings of the domestic political conflicts that accompanied them is a delicate task for any Southeast Asian political leader wishing to redefine national interests away from reliance on the United States. Such a redefinition has occurred, to a limited extent, in Thailand and the Philippines, but only in the wake of political upheavals. The obvious exception is Vietnam, where the reversal of orientation toward the United States

25.  Hung 2009. 26.  Acharya 2009; Alagappa 2003; Katzenstein and Hemmer 2002. 27.  This is discussed further in chapter 5.

26    

 Chapter 2

marks a complete change from Cold War enmity. Not only is this new orientation somewhat ambivalent and contested, however, it is also a strategic choice that is tied to particular power centers in Vietnam.28 From this summary we can see that policymakers and practitioners in Southeast Asia do have real interests in maintaining U.S. power and influence in the region, to the extent that it continues to serve their material and political interests. Despite some complaints and reservations, they do not see American hegemony as a threat because it is generally not a threat to their particular interests. Negative views of the United States have, however, surfaced among regional elites at particular moments, when the United States threatened to play a less supportive role regarding their grip on power. A focus on regime interests explains why elite perceptions of the United States have turned negative when American pressure threatened the material interests of ruling elites and their support bases, when it has pushed for trade or investment liberalization beyond that favored by these groups, or when it has pushed for revision of the domestic regulatory environment in ways that might have been harmful to entrenched interests. Thus, discontent with the United States was at a high point during and immediately after the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98, when the United States failed to support the bailout efforts of crisis-hit countries and was instrumental in insisting on far-reaching conditionalities attached to rescue packages coordinated by the IMF and the World Bank.29 While this episode did shake positive views of the United States in many quarters of traditional support, its effects were limited by the ability of economic and political elites to regain their footing, secure their interests, and avoid the most intrusive aspects of the reform packages.30 Annoyance with the United States on the part of its friends and allies has also risen at times when the United States has criticized them on issues such as human rights or briefly pressed for greater democratization, as in the early 1990s, which saw the “Asian values” debate led by Southeast Asian leaders such as Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew.31 This approach alerts us to the implications of political change involving a shift to different political, economic, and ideological bases of support. Domestic competitors to ruling elites have frequently held much more negative views of the United States, both in the past and in the present. Should previously excluded

28.  Thayer 1999; Vuving 2007. 29.  For example, Higgott 1998. 30.  MacIntyre, Pempel, and Ravenhill 2008; Walter 2008. 31.  A public debate over the existence and content of distinctively “Asian” political and cultural values arose in the early 1990s in response to claims by leaders such as Mahathir Mohamad that Western political liberties and civil rights were not culturally appropriate or morally acceptable in much of Asia. See Rodan 1996 for an analysis.

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groups start to gain more political influence, we should expect to see a shift in prevailing orientations toward the United States. So far this has been slow in coming. In the case of Indonesia, for example, the shift from authoritarianism to democracy from 1998 has largely seen continuity in the views of powerholders toward the United States, because there has been much greater change in the means by which political power is now acquired than there has been in the actual makeup of the political elite and its bases of support.32 Nonetheless, the ruling elite in the democratic era does contain a more varied set of voices than before, such as the inclusion of an explicitly Islamic wing responsive to popular anger directed at the United States, and to this extent we can predict more negative views of United States to surface among policymakers—as indeed was the case under the Megawati presidency (2001–04), which relied on the support of a group of Islamic parties. This discussion of the interests of powerholders and practitioners in the foreign policy arena suggests that even though policymakers sometimes misperceive reality or miscalculate the consequences of particular choices, their perceptions of the United States are not divorced from external indicators of where their interests lie. Over the last sixty years there has been a fairly consistent coincidence of interest underpinning favorable views of the United States and the role it plays both globally and regionally: pro-U.S. groups in Southeast Asia have been the ones able to use the projection of American military and economic power to their political, economic, and career advantage. There is, nonetheless, a large role for what can loosely be called “illusions” to play when it comes to dealing with uncertainty and generating the beliefs necessary for the pursuit of interests to take an acceptable form.

Illusions: Motives and Biases in the Construction of Beliefs The preceding account of the essentially sectional and personal interests in American power and presence in the region meets an obstacle in what it asks us to believe of the people espousing beliefs about the benign and stabilizing role of the United States. Critics of American policy often appear comfortable depicting its friends and allies as coopted, venal, and oppressive. However, although some “friendly” Southeast Asian leaders have been both brutal and corrupt, it is probably fair to assume that they did not see themselves that way. Leaders such as

32.  Hadiz 2010; Robison and Hadiz 2004.

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Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Suharto of Indonesia presented themselves as sincere nationalists. How they managed to do so is, from one perspective, of interest only to their personal confessors or those seeking to salve the pricks of conscience. There is, however, a scholarly reason for seeking to understand how they were able to construct their positions in ways that made them acceptable not only to themselves but also to large numbers of professionals, civil servants, scholars, and commentators. Powerholders convinced not only themselves but also the groups that played vital roles in presenting regime interests to domestic and international publics—not, of course, as regime interests but as rationally formulated claims of national interest. The purpose of understanding how this came about is not to exculpate those involved but to explain the process by which narrow and contested definitions of interest can acquire quite a different status. Sincere beliefs, as Robert Jervis writes, may nonetheless “derive from personal interest,” and beliefs that appear to others as incorrect may exert an autonomous influence on decision-making without the believer necessarily being either “a fool or a knave.”33 The process of belief formation should also be of interest to those who share the opinion that, notwithstanding some deviations and bumps along the way, the United States has overall been a benign power that has underwritten prosperity and security in the region. Rather than aiming to contradict such claims, the argument here is that even if this post hoc assessment is granted, it does not plausibly explain why policymakers and professionals believe it. What we know of belief formation (and maintenance) is that beliefs are the product of mental processes that are subject to cognitive, motivated (or functional), and affective biases. Sometimes these result in “misperceptions” or outright errors, which have been the focus of psychological research on biases and deviations from the logic of probabilistic reasoning.34 However, on many issues, the complexity of reality makes the definition of “error” unclear. With regard to attitude formation—arriving at judgments of subjective liking or disliking—the question of accuracy does not arise, although the scope for bias and prejudice obviously does. The essential point is that, in the words of two leaders in the field of cognitive psychology, “in cognition, as in perception, the same mechanisms produce both valid and invalid judgments.”35 While these mechanisms often serve us well, they are precisely for this reason not necessarily tuned to generating judgments of objective validity. In the circumstances under which members of the foreign policy community in Southeast

33.  Jervis 2006, 656, 643. 34.  Classic studies applied to international politics include Janis 1972; Jervis 1976. 35.  Tversky and Kahneman 2002, 47.

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Asia form and maintain beliefs about the United States, it is highly implausible that they should be. Members of the foreign policy community operate under constraints set by the demands of their position and their interest in remaining in it. Given their interests, their day-to-day activities, the information pool most available to them, and the way issues are presented, we can identify a number of pathways by which positive beliefs about the United States are likely to be formed and maintained, pathways that involve deviations from belief formation on the basis of probabilistic logic or Bayesian updating of beliefs on the basis of new information. Far from being conducive to generating neutral assessments of probability or cost-benefit tradeoffs, the environment in which foreign policy professionals and decision-makers operate is one that is likely to generate systematic biases in belief formation and maintenance.

Interested Beliefs Our motives and interests impinge on the way we gather, absorb, and evaluate information. While we do not simply see the world as conforming to the way we would like it to be, there is ample evidence that what we see and what we believe can be influenced by what we want.36 The precise mechanisms by which motives affect belief formation continue to be debated, and findings of biased information processing can in some cases be equally well explained on the basis of cognitive factors rather than any “interest” in holding a particular belief. Indeed, “motives” span such a broad variety of goals (including accuracy, persuasion, and the simple need to arrive at a conclusion) that the division of motivational and cognitive biases can be arbitrary. However, since the question raised by the first section of this chapter is why smart, educated professionals would tend to construe their own interests as something more respectable—as national interest or aggregate welfare and stability—the first part of this section focuses on some basic mechanisms by which interests are likely to shape beliefs. People favor self-serving beliefs and tend to believe good things about themselves. Much of the evidence that people are biased toward making self-serving judgments comes from studies that investigated how people assess their own abilities and explain their actions.37 A large number of replicated studies show that people tend to believe they score higher than average on desirable traits and that their judgments regarding the desirability or importance of particular traits (and the fairness of assessment measures) are biased in favor of traits they

36.  For overviews that establish the case for how goals and motives influence information processing, see Gilovich 1991, ch. 5; Kruglanski 2004; Kruglanski and Stroebe 2005; Kunda 1990. 37.  Gilovich 1991, 77–78.

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either possess or are led to believe they possess. The tendency for self-serving interpretations of reality is not limited to self-assessments. A seminal study of perception found that key elements of the same event were perceived very differently depending on a person’s presumed interest—in this case, one set of supporters watching a football game saw the game in ways that favored their own team, in contrast to supporters of the rival team.38 Subsequent studies in this tradition have found systematic biases in the way people perceive events and attribute causal relationships, biases that incline us toward seeing and believing things that conform with what we want to see and believe.39 In the case of foreign policy professionals and policymakers in Southeast Asia, my assumption is that those who have benefited from the projection of American power in the region are motivated to see the United States as exercising a benign role that produces more general benefits, such as aggregate national welfare or regional stability. The assumption posits the prevalence of the normative principle that one should be sincere, honest, and well-intentioned: leaders and professionals are not supposed to lie and be narrowly self-serving.40 Consciously presenting regime or personal interests as national or general interests would violate this principle and in this sense would not be in the “interest” of members of the foreign policy community. The underlying mechanism behind tendencies toward holding self-serving beliefs is most likely to be some form of motive for dissonance reduction, although other mechanisms have been suggested. As originally formulated, belief consistency theories posited that people try to avoid holding mutually incompatible beliefs and thus attempt to bring belief and action into concordance. If they could not modify belief-discrepant actions, they would tend to modify their beliefs.41 Although much experimental evidence supports this tendency, other studies show contrary results, depending on context and culture. East Asians, for example, have been shown to be less likely to engage in the syllogistic processes that underlie the process of bringing beliefs into consistency with each other.42 More generally, engaging in belief-discrepant action does not always produce an adjustment to one’s beliefs. In particular, manipulations designed to reward people for holding particular beliefs are not effective in inducing belief change, and 38.  Hastorf and Cantril 1954. 39.  Both material interest and affective orientation affect the degree to which we notice positive behavior compared to negative behavior, the way we form assessments about causal relationships, and the retrieval of beliefs used to assess information. March and Wallace 2005. 40.  While not necessarily universal, this principle enjoys at least as much support in Asian as Western cultural contexts. 41.  A review of experimental work on these dynamics over the last fifty years is provided in Olson and Stone 2005, 226–249; Wyer and Albarracin 2005. 42.  Choi, Nisbett, and Norenzayan 1999.

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if people believe they have very little choice about their belief-discrepant actions, their beliefs are less likely to change.43 Such findings point to the conclusion that whether belief-discrepant behavior influences beliefs depends on how much negative affect is aroused by the behavior. These experimental findings could be interpreted to suggest that members of the foreign policy community are not likely to experience dissonance reduction motives if they see their behavior as performed under low-choice conditions and as externally rewarded (as paid employment). However, almost all members have meaningful options for exit. In interviews and recorded memoirs, members of the foreign policy community in Southeast Asia almost always describe their careers in terms that emphasize the intrinsic satisfaction and merits of the job.44 Although the circumstances and cultural traits that influence how and when dissonance—in the form of negative affect—occurs, findings of dissonance avoid­­ ance (when possible, and to the extent it is not overridden by other goals) appear robust, and this underlying motive may account for many of the biases in information processing and knowledge formation discussed below, such as a preference for simplicity and certainty. Very often, people prefer “to organize the world into neat evaluative gestalts that couple good causes to good effects and bad to bad” rather than accepting discordant tradeoffs and effects that may be both good and bad.45 For those who have benefited from American hegemony, therefore, we can predict a predisposition to infer more general benefits from the benefits that they have experienced and to sideline contradictory information. As discussed in the next section, even in the absence of dissonance arousal, certain cognitive heuristics commonly employed reinforce a tendency to believe that “like goes with like” in terms of causes and effects. This general bias in favor of believing what we want to believe is not, of course, unlimited and generally does not involve a blunt refusal to acknowledge contradictory evidence. Evidence and context have large effects on motivated belief formation and form the backdrop for “unmotivated” cognitive processing, to which we now turn.46

Information, Context, and Cognitive Processing Very often, we are unable to believe what we would like to believe because we are confronted with compelling counterevidence. Unless we are shielded from the effects of holding inaccurate beliefs, holding comforting but inaccurate beliefs

43.  See the discussion of such findings in Wyer and Albarracin 2005, 285–286. 44.  Oral and written accounts are discussed in chapter 5. 45.  Tetlock 2005, 39. 46.  Kunda 1990.

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becomes dysfunctional. An overriding interest in life, liberty, or social acceptance steps in to ensure that our belief is better calibrated with external measures of validity. Whether we can sustain our preferred beliefs, therefore, depends on the information we have and the context in which we operate. Further, features of the social, organizational, and information environment to which we are exposed interact with what can be called cognitive biases: tendencies to take shortcuts, impose order on random data, and attribute responsibility for outcomes. This section argues that key features of the information environment and context in which Southeast Asian foreign policy communities operate are likely to reinforce rather than call into question self-serving beliefs about the benign general effects of America’s role in the region. Rather than being arrived at on the basis of careful cost-benefit analyses and probabilistic reasoning, several features of the environment, combined with cognitive processing tendencies (which in themselves are neutral about the substantive content of beliefs about the United States), make it much more likely that such beliefs are arrived at in systematically biased ways. They may, perhaps, be correct, but it is implausible that they are believed because they are correct. D ea l in g w ith Co m p l ex ity an d Un certain ty

An important feature of the environment in which members of the foreign policy community operate is that it is complex.47 Beliefs about the dynamics of international politics, the geostrategic environment, the intentions held by other countries, and the outcomes of foreign policy actions involve making assessments about messy phenomena, a vast array of variables, counterfactuals, and contingent relationships. Under these circumstances, it would be quite reasonable to put off forming opinions about things such as the effects of U.S. predominance or decline or its overall contribution to regional peace and welfare. Since the supply of further evidence and opinion on both sides of any assessment is hypothetically inexhaustible, one could continue to seek it out and put off forming a judgment. Obviously, opinions do get formed amid this welter of information and argumentation. How? First, when dealing with contradictory and complex information, our interests intervene. We do not necessarily ignore contradictory evidence, but our goals and wishes nonetheless affect the process of accessing and assessing evidence. We are more likely, for example, to get a second opinion when we receive an unfavorable rather than a favorable medical diagnosis, even if the objective probabilities of both are equal or weighted against us. Hence the

47.  Jervis 1997.

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bias surfaces in where we choose to terminate our search for information or the point at which we make up our mind that we have enough evidence. As shown in the extended research program headed by psychologist Arie Kruglanski, the process of choosing what to believe does not terminate according to the dictates of probabilistic reasoning but is influenced by what he terms “motives for closure”—whether we are motivated to form a judgment or, conversely, motivated to avoid making up our minds and whether we are motivated to arrive at a specific judgment or to avoid a specific judgment.48 Members of the foreign policy community are likely to have fairly strong motives for closure. Policymakers need to act, sign treaties, and make speeches and thus need to arrive at the foundational beliefs that underlie a decision. If they openly remain agnostic or uncertain, they are likely to appear as wavering, weak, and generally unhelpful. The same can be said of the professionals who advise them.49 Further, both professionals and policymakers generally operate under time constraints, a contextual factor that generates incentives for closure.50 Time pressure and the demands of day-to-day work create strong disincentives for reevaluating foundational beliefs: in foreign policy settings, debate and discussion is almost always over tactics, not core strategy. It is therefore something of a work requirement for most members of the foreign policy community to form beliefs about foundational foreign policy issues rather than remain­ uncommitted. Time pressure and the need to make decisions also reinforce a more general human aversion to randomness, ambiguity, and uncertainty. People are typically more confident of their beliefs and judgments than they should be. They overestimate their scores on knowledge tests, for example, and often attach high probabilities to events that occur infrequently. More generally, they often assign more extreme probabilities when making predictions than base rates warrant.51 Both the neglect of base rate information and the tendency to impose patterns and meaning on random events appear as a consequence of a cognitive preference

48.  Kruglanski 1989, 2004. 49.  The conditions most conducive to acknowledging uncertainty, contestability, and the limits of knowledge are also those that tend to place people at the periphery of the foreign policy community. 50.  Kruglanski and his associates frequently use time pressure as an experimental manipulation to generate a need for closure. Other manipulations include introducing ambient noise, boredom, and peer evaluations of the desirability of decisiveness. 51.  Although challenged by some experimental work (e.g., Hilton and Slugowski 2000, 669 – 670), evidence for the relative underuse of base rates and probabilistic reasoning has been obtained in an array of experimental and applied settings. See, for example, Gilovich, Griffin, and Kahneman 2002; Griffin and Tversky 1992; Tetlock 2005, 40–53.

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for causal narratives.52 While not necessarily driven by a desire to impose order and certainty on the world, the effect is often to produce overconfidence in beliefs or outright erroneous beliefs (especially in the case of causal beliefs generated to “explain” random outcomes), which can then appear to receive further validation by a variety of belief-reinforcing mechanisms described below. A “dislike” of uncertainty and randomness can also account for a willingness to create selfserving (in the sense of being ideologically consistent) accounts when confronted with a lack of information, either by filling in missing data points or generating counterfactual scenarios.53 Motives for closure and certainty are neutral in terms of substantive beliefs about the United States. They could underwrite coherent, confident negative narratives about the international role of the United States just as well as formulations about the fundamentally benign nature of American power. However, in contexts where actors already have an interest in seeing the American role as generally beneficial, motives for closure lean strongly in the direction of specific closure, in the form of the substantive beliefs that are functional in this way.54 The rest of this section discusses how this directional bias is reinforced by the practical, epistemic, and social contexts in which members of the foreign policy community in Southeast Asia operate. B e li ev i n g on th e J ob: T h e E f fect of Wor k Tas k s a n d O rg a ni zation

It is possible that people publicly espouse beliefs that they do not hold to be true (or have less confidence in than they publicly acknowledge) and take actions because they have to, even when they might admit privately to uncertainty. For career professionals and policymakers, however, the actions they undertake as part of their jobs are likely to produce quite powerful effects on the beliefs and attitudes they hold, even in private.55 There are a number of mechanisms by which simply acting as a member of the foreign policy community is likely to produce an effect on beliefs. In contexts where the regime or ruling elite benefits from the international actions of the United States and pursues policies that are based 52.  For example, Gilovich 1991; Shafir, Simonson, and Tversky 1993. 53.  Tetlock 2005, 38. 54.  As argued by Kruglanski and other psychologists working on motivated cognition, motives for “specific closure” are created by the benefits attached to holding that belief. What is construed as a benefit can vary widely, including avoiding negative affect, gaining social approval, and securing material rewards. 55.  Stated in these general terms, the argument is consistent with international relations theorizing that has taken “practice,” habit, and the effects of working in a bureaucratic organization seriously. See, for example, Barnett and Finnemore 2004; Haas 1990; Hopf 2002; Pouliot 2008. What the argument here offers is a specification of the processes by which these effects may occur.

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on maintaining American friendship and engagement, these mechanisms favor the creation and maintenance of beliefs that the United States exerts a benign or positive influence with respect to broader, aggregate considerations of welfare. The proposition that actions influence beliefs runs counter to the intuitive view that our beliefs about the world motivate our actions: because we believe that option X will further our interests, we pursue X. This is the implicit assumption in most international relations theory and casual assertions about the impact of policymaker beliefs in Southeast Asia. But this is often not the way beliefs and behavior interact. Research carried out by Daryl Bem and others following his insights has shown that people sometimes act first and then infer their beliefs from their behavior, as their behavior may function as a piece of information used in belief formation.56 Initially proposed as an alternative to the dissonance-reduction paradigms discussed above, further research suggests that this mode of belief formation is most plausible in conditions where behavior does not generate negative affect, most likely when it is not counter-attitudinal, either because it is belief-consistent or because a person’s prior belief is not well formed or strongly held.57 Most day-to-day work tasks carried out by members of the foreign policy are not likely to be counter-attitudinal. Most foreign policy work focuses on the micro level details of daily operations, not grand assessments of strategic orientation. A lot of it is also routine, in the sense that many actions proceed on the basis of a set of standard operating procedures that do not call into question fundamental policy orientations. Thus, for example, an analyst given the task of keeping a watchful eye on Chinese military capacities is not called on to consider actively whether this is a worthwhile task; officials tasked with routine intelligence sharing with an ally are not called on to evaluate the intelligence-sharing arrangement itself. In both cases, individuals who originally might not have had a clearly formulated set of beliefs about the threat potential posed by China or the nonthreatening nature of the ally might, if later asked to produce a reason for why intelligence is collected on the former or shared with the latter, easily infer that these activities are carried out because China represents a potential threat but the ally does not. A second mechanism by which behavior may influence beliefs is applicable to both routine and nonroutine action by members of the foreign policy community. Behavior that requires a person to engage in the production of a set of arguments (for example, writing a persuasive essay) can influence that person’s beliefs due to what researchers have termed a “biased scanning” effect: a selective 56.  Bem 1967, 1970. 57.  Olson and Stone 2005, 249–254.

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search of memory or deeper analysis of information supportive of the argument espoused.58 Members of the foreign policy community are typically engaged in a host of activities that assert the benefits of official foreign policy choices. Doing foreign policy involves producing a flow of documentation in the form of speeches, policy briefs, press releases, cabinet papers, and official statements. Engaging heavily in this kind of activity—which members of the foreign policy have a career incentive to make some effort over—thus lends itself to biased scanning of available information. While such biased scanning is not necessarily motivated, other experimental work has shown a range of commitment effects, under which behavior and choices initially undertaken under conditions of uncertainty become retrospectively interpreted in ways that reinforce the basis for one’s action.59 Dissonance reduction is plausibly a strong underlying motive. Following the basic insights of Leon Festinger’s work on dissonance in the 1950s and refined over a halfcentury of work in this tradition, if one did not originally believe the truth of what one was writing, writing counter-attitudinal statements would arouse negative affect (dissonance) and thereby motivate one to adjust one’s beliefs to make them more concordant with one’s behavior.60 Of course, for many foreign policy practitioners, their daily activity is not likely to be counter-attitudinal and therefore would not induce dissonance. However, this mechanism offers an explanation for attitude change in cases where a person’s initial beliefs were at odds with work demands. Dissonance reduction is not the only motivated reason for the kind of “socialization” or learning effects that are commonly claimed to occur when individuals enter organizations or epistemic communities. Social motivators are also likely to influence individual beliefs in the direction of the prevailing consensus. Social psychologists have repeatedly demonstrated that perceived group opinion, especially as espoused by high-status members, has strong effects on individual belief. The question among psychologists is not to establish the existence of these effects but to account for them and to specify the conditions under which different individual motives—for understanding, for establishing relationships, and for self-belief—are likely to produce the effect of group influence.61 Applied studies 58.  Olson and Stone 2005, 224–226. 59.  For recent thinking on hindsight bias, see Blank et al. 2008. Commitment effects are generally most studied in the light of prospect theory, but escalating commitments motivated by lossavoidance are almost necessarily accompanied by beliefs that can rationalize such behavior. For a classic study, see Straw 1976. 60.  Olsen and Stone 2005. The experimental protocols in this research tradition mimic the conditions of the foreign policy world to an unusual degree, because investigators typically asked subjects to write counterattitudinal essays as a way of producing belief-discrepant behavior. 61.  Prislin and Wood 2005.

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relating to foreign policy have also produced findings of consensus-seeking or “groupthink,” to use the term of an influential pioneer, Irving Janis.62 Motives for understanding can account for some aspects of group influence, as the prevailing view can be taken as an indicator of objective validity. However, much work points to what are essentially social motivations at work: those who disagree with group consensus are more likely to be the object of dislike as deviant minorities, and assessments of personal agreeability are strongly influenced by the literal degree of agreement in opinion exhibited.63 To the extent that collectivist orientations are prevalent in East Asian cultures, the greater consensusseeking effects that this produces should add to group influence on individual beliefs.64 For understanding beliefs in the foreign policy community, three contextual conditions are likely to strengthen group influence effects. First, with the possible exception of those occupying more isolated academic positions, being a member of the foreign policy community means being part of a social organization. Repeated interpersonal interactions characterize much of the daily routine. Relational concerns are thus likely to be a prime incentive for most members, since being thought of as disagreeable or disruptive is likely to stymie career advancement, while cooperativeness is valued and seen as useful for advancement. Second, while foreign ministries may be relatively liberal organizations in the sense of housing cosmopolitan and internationalist individuals, they are also hierarchical. Most think tanks in the region are also hierarchical organizations, although some grant members more latitude. Given that status within a group is a strong predictor of influence, such hierarchical environments create further reasons for consensus formation and maintenance. Third, the motives for closure associated with being in the foreign policy community discussed above (both nonspecific motives for closure due to time constraints as well as specific motives due to the functionality of certain beliefs) are likely to heighten consensus-­seeking tendencies, as motives for closure reinforce such tendencies.65 The essentially social nature of knowledge formation has long been recognized by psychologists, hence the greater the need for closure and certainty, the greater pressures for within-group conformity. “Social uniformity,” argues Arie Kruglanski, “is essential for the maintenance of epistemic certainty.”66 A self-selection

62.  Esser 1998; Hart 1994; Janis 1972. 63.  Prislin and Wood 2005, 680. 64.  Prislin and Wood 2005 discusses research on the relatively higher levels of consensus-seeking in collectivist East Asian cultures, where an interdependent sense of self is more common (2005, 695–696). 65.  Kruglanski 2004, 114–128. 66.  Kruglanski 2004, 115.

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process is also likely to reinforce this social uniformity, as those who cannot bring their private beliefs into conformity with their peer group and their own behavior are more likely to experience pressures to exit, reinforcing the consensus— and hence the sense of subjective certainty—among those who remain. It is possible that an individual experiencing such pressures will simply conform outwardly, moderating public speech out of expedience. Both applied and experimental findings suggest, however, that private belief, not just public speech, tends to be brought into conformity with beliefs prevailing within a relevant peer group.67 Hence we see a clustering of beliefs and attitudes as a result of social interaction, clustering that is unrelated to objective measures of validity.68 Peer group norms can also influence attitudes unconsciously.69 And social mechanisms can also account for the “contagion” of individual goals, as individuals show a tendency to pursue the goals they infer that others pursue, based on their perceived behavior—again, without necessarily being aware of this process.70 Regardless of the motive at work, exposure to social group influence produces effects on participants’ attitudes that persist in private, with “attitudes designed to convey an agreeable impression” being especially persistent.71 Perhaps counterintuitively, these findings are consistent with the reported views of some members of the foreign policy community that their organizations encouraged the open exchange of views and debate, as overt top-down enforcement of conformity is less likely to produce enduring internal adjustment of belief. Rather, influence arises out of an interactive consensus effect, by which social consensus becomes “an important indicator of the apparent validity of information.”72 Cumulatively, therefore, the effect of work tasks and organization within the foreign policy community can be theorized as likely to produce an effect on beliefs. In countries friendly to the United States where governing coalitions and their constituencies have benefited from American influence in the region, the substantive direction of the effect of the work environment will be to promote beliefs about the general benefits of a pro-American orientation. These beliefs are inscribed in the everyday work tasks carried out in foreign ministries and think tanks, sometimes as overt justifications for policy, often as unspoken assumptions that underlie—and make sense of—specific behaviors.

67.  Tetlock 2002. 68.  Harton and Bourgeois 2004. Other studies demonstrate the strong effects of motives for closure and the essentially social and motivated mechanisms by which group norms, values, and beliefs are generated. See, e.g., Schaller and Crandall 2004. 69.  Spencer et al. 2005, 122–123. 70.  Aarts and Hassin 2005. 71.  Prislin and Wood 2005, 676. 72.  Prislin and Wood 2005, 678.

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The effects of work tasks and organization identified here mimic the effects of “learning,” a process that is frequently enlisted in accounts of the spread of ideas and constructivist theories about the transmission of norms.73 The argument made here is that the pathways and mechanisms at work differ sharply from lay conceptions of learning, in that they do not necessarily have anything to do with the objective validity or logical coherence of the beliefs generated and transmitted. The beliefs may be valid as assessed against such external measures, but their propagation does not depend on processes of conscious reasoning and assessment of empirical evidence. Empirically, this is difficult to prove in applied settings, but chapters 4 and 5 present two types of evidence. First, they detail both the pro-American biases of the epistemic and socio-organizational environment in which members of the foreign policy community operate and the extent to which foundational claims regarding history, strategic context, and policy choices are repetitively asserted as presumptions rather than generated or defended through argumentation. Second, statements of members of the foreign policy community are dissected with a view to tracing their own particular trajectories of knowledge acquisition. In many cases, respondents were quite candid that they arrived at certain foundational beliefs as a result of having absorbed the wisdom prevailing in professional circles; they were often quite willing to concede that they had never seriously considered competing claims. P ro f essiona l K now le d g e , I n fo r mation, a n d Bias es Towa r d Be li e f Mai nt enan ce

Several features of the information and epistemic environment facing members of the foreign policy community are likely to reinforce more general belief maintenance biases. The first relates to the availability and accessibility of information. Although members of the foreign policy community have access to an almost unlimited supply of both positive and negative information about the United States, their training and work environment tends to ensure that this information is asymmetrically distributed. With some variations, in countries historically friendly to the United States, there is a lot more positive information about the United States than negative circulating within the foreign policy community. Chapters 4 and 5 present evidence of this empirical feature of the information environment; this section explains why it matters. Information in this sense includes both discrete “facts” that may serve as evidence and more diffuse representations, associations, and causal narratives.

73.  Abdelal, Blyth, and Parsons 2010; Checkel 1998; Goldstein and Keohane 1993; Katzenstein 1996; Risse 2000.

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The information environment matters because a range of cognitive shortcuts, or heuristics, that people commonly employ magnify the impact of information that is most readily available and easy to access. Work in the heuristics and biases tradition pioneered by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman provides evidence that availability (or ease of retrieval), representativeness (on the basis of prior understandings of what is typical or representative), and starting information (prior knowledge that serves as an information anchor) bias estimates of both probability and absolute value or quantity.74 Thus, for example, people are “likely to infer that the information that comes easily to mind is likely to be representative of entire body of knowledge they have available.”75 Overestimates of probability on the basis of representativeness have been found even when the original experimental protocols were corrected for possible verbal misconstructions that might have led people to misinterpret the meaning of the choices available.76 Anchoring effects bias judgments in favor of initial information both through the “enhanced accessibility of anchor-consistent information” and because the process of adjustment from information anchors is effortful and tends to stop “once a plausible estimate is reached.”77 As advertisers have long known, frequency of information exposure matters: people have increased confidence in the truth of a statement the more familiar they are with it—to the extent that in one set of experiments subjects rated fictional names as referring to famous people after they had previously been exposed to them. And although people assign greater credibility to information depending on its source, over time they tend to separate information from its context.78 Foreign policy professionals unevenly exposed to positive information about the United States through both the materials they generate as part of their work and their media exposure are thus unlikely to sufficiently discount this bias, even though they may well recognize the bias or propagandistic nature of the information source. Belief maintenance biases also structure the way people use the evidence that is available to them. A “confirmatory bias” in information processing and hypothesis-testing means that people tend to interpret evidence, when they can, as consistent with prior beliefs, leading to overconfidence in those beliefs.79 This bias has been modeled to show that even when information is infinitely available,

74.  Tversky and Kahneman 1973, 1974. See also Gilovich, Griffin, and Kahneman 2002. 75.  Wyer and Albarracin 2005, 301. 76.  Gilovich and Griffin 2002; Tversky and Kahneman 2002. 77.  Epley and Gilovich 2006, 312. 78.  Wyer and Albarracin 2005, 303, 300. On advertising effects, see Wilson, Gilbert, and Wheatly 1998, 178. 79.  Gilovich 1991, ch. 4; Klayman and Ha 1987; Kunda 1990.

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people may come to believe with near certainty in a hypothesis that is almost certainly false.80 Hindsight biases—memory distortion, assessment of foreseeability, and assessment of necessity—also reinforce extant beliefs by appearing to provide additional confirming evidence in support of an initial belief.81 People do of course update their beliefs when information becomes sufficiently compelling or engages their personal interests.82 Thus, as argued in the first section of this chapter, policymakers are unlikely to misperceive their interests (or behavior that impinges on their interests) over the long term. When the United States starts acting in ways that negatively affect the personal or sectional interests of ruling groups, they tend to notice. Information that would speak to beliefs in the more generalized impact of the United States, however, is not likely to be registered with the same force, given that motivational pressures work to reduce the weight accorded to belief-discrepant information. People may well be aware of belief-discrepant information, including counterfactual scenarios, but tend to favor evidence that accords with their own prior outlook.83 These belief maintenance biases are just that—biases, not impenetrable barriers preventing accurate updating of beliefs. Humans have evolved a great capacity to learn from experience and evidence and obviously often do update beliefs. However, in the case of many foundational foreign policy beliefs, the principal mechanism bringing this about—corrective feedback—is inherently weak.84 Unambiguous corrective feedback is mostly lacking, given that core beliefs involve complex and unavoidably uncertain judgments infused with strong normative and affective elements. Is the United States a benign hegemon or an aggressive unilateralist? The judgment either way can never rest on unambiguous, value-free evidence but can easily appear to receive validation if information that speaks to one characterization is accorded greater weight than discrepant information. And asymmetry in how different types of evidence are weighed (either consciously or unconsciously, as a result of differential attention and memory retention) is particularly likely in the case of core foreign policy beliefs because they are almost never specified in terms that lend themselves to clear falsification. Instead, loose formulations mean that what counts as confirming evidence is elastic, consistent with what Thomas Gilovich has termed “multiple endpoints.”85

80.  Rabin and Schrag 1999. 81.  Blank et al. 2008. 82.  Gerber and Green 1999. 83.  Tetlock 2005, 148–162. 84.  On the importance of corrective feedback, and why in the case of certain types of belief it is only weakly present or registered, see Gilovich 1991. 85.  Gilovich 1991, 57–62.

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Although some foreign policy beliefs are inherently difficult to subject to clear disconfirming evidence, many could be expressed in terms of falsifiable propositions. The epistemic norms and standards of professional expertise prevailing in the foreign policy community, however, do not favor this mode of knowledge generation. As detailed in chapter 5, standards of appropriateness for generating professionally validated knowledge do not include a clear specification of hypotheses, let alone attention to methodological issues relating to testing them. Rather, standards for expertise in the foreign policy community more closely match lay epistemologies, which favor explanation (the construction of a plausible causal chain or theory) over evidence.86 What foreign policy expertise does provide is an abundance of “reasons” and pieces of information that can be enlisted to support beliefs through the construction of intuitively plausible narratives and scenarios. Simply imagining such scenarios can make them seem more plausible, making it easy to neglect base rate information that would provide a better estimate of probability.87 This is consistent with the finding of Philip Tetlock’s major study of political experts that domain experts overpredicted change significantly more than “dilettantes” who were less equipped in information terms to generate plausible scenarios.88 It is reasonable to ask whether foreign policy professionals do not have overriding interests in accuracy that will bring forth sufficient cognitive effort and debiasing procedures to overcome incentives to rely on intuitive reasoning. Motives for accuracy do make a difference, and foreign policy is surely a high-stakes arena. However, not only are other motives also present, but the meaning of “accuracy” also depends on goals and context.89 Policymakers have overriding interests in remaining in their positions and, over the longer term at least, are likely to recognize as erroneous beliefs that are not functional. For foreign policy professionals advising high-status colleagues and political leaders, the limits of accuracy are set in part by the goals and interests of those higher up the hierarchy: they define what counts as a relevant question in the first place. For the most part, these limits are not communicated (or interpreted) as directives that run counter to expert knowledge. The epistemic context of the foreign policy community provides multiple apparently valid reasons for accepting many core beliefs on the basis of a plausibility check—rather than scrutinizing them in the light of evidence

86.  Kuhn 2001. These standards are important in that a major limit to wishful thinking is our ability to construct a justification for belief that conforms with prevailing standards of acceptability in reasoning; see Kunda 1990. 87.  Tversky and Kahneman 2002. On reason-based choice more generally, see Shafir, Simonson, and Tversky 1993. 88.  Tetlock 2005, 57. 89.  Tetlock 2002.

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that is less abundantly available (given the information environment created by doing foreign policy work) and according to methodological procedures that are almost never used by members of the professional community. The foreign policy establishments of Southeast Asia are largely divorced from the norms of self-consciously social scientific reasoning that prevail in parts of the scholarly world, but this is not exceptional. Repeated failures to employ social scientific methodological safeguards and techniques have also been found in the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy, despite the enormous resources devoted to information collection and analysis.90 American foreign policy decision-making on high-stakes issues has not been immune from pressures to make judgments on the basis of superficial indicators and intuitive reasoning.91 It is also worth noting that even in academic disciplines and professions where epistemic standards are demanding—calling for de-biasing measurement procedures, control groups, sophisticated statistical techniques, and double-blind peer review—the “mundane and very human motives” of individual scientists affect both the production of knowledge and as the values and practices that define the culture of science.92 Psychologists have found numerous examples of cognitive shortcuts and tendencies to “sharpen and level” evidence among their own peers.93 Applied studies in high-stakes professions find that individual experts frequently underperform in comparison with nonhuman diagnostic tools and actuarial methods.94 Not all individuals in a professional field will be equally susceptible to overconfidence. Philip Tetlock’s study of political experts found that those who fit the intellectual profile of Isaiah Berlin’s “hedgehog”—who knows “one big thing”— were particularly likely to engage in the construction of “belief system defenses” that enabled them to maintain beliefs with extraordinary tenacity in the face of contradictory evidence.95 While we have no reason to assume that intellectual “hedgehogs” are disproportionately present in the foreign policy community, there are some reasons for thinking that they may be particularly successful and prominent within it. Tetlock’s own work has found that experts who regularly acted as policy advisers, consultants, or media commentators were significantly more overconfident than those who did not. He notes that “integratively simplistic rhetoric often has a political-psychological advantage over more complex

90.  Jervis 2010. 91.  For example, Khong 1995. 92.  Crandall and Schaller 2004, 201. 93.  Crandall and Schaller 2004; Gilovich 1991, 88–90. 94.  For example, diagnostic tools that work strictly on the basis of logarithmic calculations employing base rate data. Gilovich, Griffin, and Kahneman eds. 2002 includes several applied studies of real-world expertise in professions such as finance, medicine, and forecasting. 95.  Tetlock 2005, especially 125–139.

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rhetoric.”96 While not definitive, other work suggests that individuals with the profile of “internal encoders”—who have a greater propensity to interpret “environmental cues” in terms of preexisting schemata, which are thereby reinforced—are likely to adapt comparatively well to new social environments such as living abroad (a capacity that favors those who make their careers in foreign ministries). Internal encoders were also found to be more likely to choose vocations in the arts, humanities, and business management, in contrast to external encoders who favored careers such as computer programming, engineering, and accounting.97 An interesting finding from a set of repeated cross-cultural experiments is that East Asians (groups from Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong) were markedly more overconfident than their peers in North America, despite the stereotypical view (which was also held by the subjects of some of these experiments) that Americans are more prone to overconfidence.98

Affect and the Unthinkable How members of the foreign policy community feel about the United States is likely to influence what they believe about it. There is “compelling evidence for the proposition that every stimulus evokes an affective reaction,” write ­Daniel Kahneman and Shane Frederick.99 A recent review of work on the centrality of emotions argues that without knowing how one feels about something, it is impossible to assess risk, future gains and losses, or another actor’s credibility. In the case of many beliefs, “emotion constitutes and strengthens a belief . . . [making] possible a generalization about an actor that involves certainty beyond evidence.”100 Although emotion is integral to rational decision-making, it can also be a source of errors and biases. Subjective feelings of favor or disfavor toward an object (often referred to as attitudes) influence both the search for evidence and the significance accorded to different pieces of evidence.101 People may also practice exposure control, deliberately avoiding exposure to affectively disturbing information.102 Sometimes, we may be aware of this basis for forming judgments about other people or countries. One prominent Singaporean diplomat, for example, observed that “maybe I have too much affection for America,

  96.  Tetlock 2005, 63, 119.   97.  Lewicki 2005, 205–207.   98.  Yates et al. 2002. The study suggests that a variant of reason-based choice processes plausibly affects confidence judgments (2002, 289–290).   99.  Kahneman and Frederick 2002, 56. 100.  Mercer 2010, 8. 101.  Marsh and Wallace 2005. 102.  Wilson, Gilbert, and Wheatley 1998.

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and so my views may not be entirely rational.”103 The more we like a person, the more we think they are good; the more we believe they are good, the greater the tendency to believe that the consequences of their actions must be good.104 Individual feelings about the United States vary, both from person to person and over time. However, there are several reasons to think that the distribution of attitudes toward the United States and subjective experiences involving the United States in foreign policy circles in Southeast Asia are not randomly distributed. Far more than nonelite sections of their own societies, members of the foreign policy community are likely to have had significant personal exposure to the United States and its people. Although not all of this exposure is positive, the self-reported views of many suggest that feelings of personal liking were formed through educational experiences, cultural exposure, and friendships and working relationships with Americans. The large investments in public diplomacy, educational exchanges, and professional networking made by the United States during the Cold War thus seem to have had an enduring effect on the elites targeted.105 Although many Southeast Asian foreign policy professionals expressed distaste and anger at the foreign policy actions of the United States during the George W. Bush presidency, many expressed their feelings in terms of shock and disappointment. This was not what they expected from a country they liked, and many were inclined to see this period as aberrational. Those who did not express such positive feelings about the United States as a society were far more likely to see the 2002–08 period as representative of enduring American tendencies to abuse its power. Strong affective responses to certain types of tradeoff are also likely to influence beliefs about the United States. Forming judgments about whether the United States is “overall” a benign great power that has “by and large” exercised its power in ways that benefit Southeast Asia involves not just overcoming a great deal of uncertainty but also arriving at ways of making tradeoffs. Thinking explicitly about tradeoffs is often uncomfortable and effortful: it is easier to list just the benefits than to try to weigh them against costs (or vice versa), especially when the two involve incommensurable variables. Nonetheless, not only do people make decisions requiring tradeoffs routinely, when primed for 103.  Tommy Koh. Remarks at the launch of “Asia Alone: The Dangerous Post-Crisis Divide from America,” Singapore, 17 June 2010. 104.  Two processes are at work here: the tendency to “turn the subjective experience of feelings into an objective property of an actor” (Mercer 2010, 15) and common heuristics that lead us to infer that “like goes with like”: big consequences must have big causes, and good people do good things (Kahneman and Frederick 2002; Tversky and Kahneman 1974). Gilovich 1991 discusses the heuristics in applied settings. 105.  These contacts and the attitudes of members of the foreign policy community are discussed further in chapter 5.

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effortful and thoughtful judgment, they may think through them quite explicitly and value the process of doing so.106 Some types of tradeoff, however, are so affectively disturbing that even contemplating them is felt to be illegitimate. Such “taboo tradeoffs” are those that violate moral principles by assigning instrumental or exchange value to objects or people that have intrinsic or sacred value—­ auctioning babies, for example.107 For many people, attempting a cost-benefit calculation of the harms and benefits attributable to the American role in East Asia over the past sixty years would fall into the category of a taboo tradeoff. How does one count the bombing of Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia against the rising per capita income of Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore? Not only are the two incommensurable, the idea that prosperity for some groups mitigates the deaths of others is morally disturbing.108 Finding direct evidence of this is difficult, but later chapters show a significant tendency on the part of those who believed the United States to have played a positive role in the region to bracket or completely ignore the human costs associated with its actions, rather than attempt the kind of mixed accounting task that would be involved in genuinely trying to assess the American impact on the region.

Conclusions: Interests and Expertise Overall, we have little reason to suppose that expertise and motives for accuracy in the foreign policy field will outweigh the pressures on belief formation and maintenance described in this chapter, as long as personal and regime interests are basically well served. The self-serving nature of some core foreign policy beliefs, however, does not mean that they are insincere or implausible in the circumstances in which they are formed. The information and perspectives that might cast doubt on beliefs about the general benefits of U.S. hegemony in the region are far less accessible to members of the foreign policy community than evidence of the advantages of an American-defined regional order. The compara­ tive accessibility of “U.S.-positive” information is documented in the case of historical knowledge (chapter 4) and foreign policy expertise (chapter 5). Although varying with the social and political identities of history-writers and those in

106.  Tetlock 2000. 107.  Fiske and Tetlock 1997; Tetlock 2000. 108.  The tendency to avoid stating the tradeoffs in this way among Southeast Asians suggests that it is not any more acceptable in this region than elsewhere. One can, however, read much of the “Asian values” debate that pitted some Southeast Asian leaders against both domestic and western critics as an attempt to desacralize individual rights, to make them more amenable to tradeoffs against ­material prosperity.

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the foreign policy field, these epistemic landscapes mostly fit comfortably with the interests of ruling groups. For the greater part of the last sixty years, the powerholders who brought their countries into open or de facto alignment with the United States have, along with their supporting cast of professionals, mostly benefited from the arrangement. The next chapter provides a firmer empirical foundation for this judgment, along with evidence that what worked for ruling elites and their allies was not uniformly welcomed—or equally beneficial—in other sections of society.

3 The Politics and Economics of Interests Ruling Elites and U.S. Power

Beliefs about the United States are closely related to the material interests of those who have gained or lost as a consequence of American actions in Southeast Asia. Ruling elites in the Southeast Asian countries aligned with the United States since the 1960s or earlier benefited from the regional role played by the United States and continue to benefit from the American-defined global order. U.S. actions made it easier for those now holding political power to advance and secure their positions against domestic competitors. In several cases, contenders for power were directly aided by the United States in domestic political struggles; in all cases, pro-U.S. contenders and powerholders bolstered their political strength by being able to channel the economic benefits of alignment to reward supporters. Some have profited personally from the opportunities provided by the projection of U.S. power in the region. These interests in an American-defined global order, U.S. predominance at the regional level, and continued favorable relations with the United States are thus real, not illusionary, but they are most sensibly construed as regime interests. They are the interests of powerholders in gaining and maintaining domestic political power and acquiring economic resources to reward key constituencies. All contenders for power have such interests, but they vary in terms of their constituencies and strategies. This chapter reviews the social and economic bases of regime support, the political strategies of ruling elites, and the relationship of those elites with the United States. The discussion excludes Vietnam, where the political elite backed by the United States was defeated and the victors have had

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an adversarial relationship with the United States for much of the postwar period. Assertions that the United States has acted as a benign hegemon in Southeast Asia cannot sensibly be inferred to include Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, which were physically devastated by American military action. It is therefore with that part of the region that was on the American side of the great Cold War divide that this chapter is occupied, with the aim of demonstrating the essentially political—and contested—foundations of alignment.

Political Interests: The United States and Domestic Contests for Power In the noncommunist countries of Southeast Asia, ruling elites friendly to the United States had consolidated their power by the mid-1960s or earlier. In each case, they had to overcome domestic challengers whose orientation toward the United States ranged from neutrality to well-founded suspicion. Those who emerged on the winning side of these domestic conflicts all had reasons to appreciate the role played by the United States. American help in bringing specific ruling groups to power and maintaining them in authority during the Cold War was most obvious in the Philippines, but it was also of pivotal significance in Thailand. In Indonesia, a dramatic change of regime in the mid-1960s fundamentally realigned the country to bring it to the American side of the Cold War, a change that was materially and diplomatically supported by the United States. In Malaysia and Singapore, ruling elites owed their victory over domestic challengers more to the United Kingdom than the United States but nonetheless benefited from conditions established by the United States. As a former American colony, the Philippines entered the postwar period governed by an elite that had already established its grip on power under American tutelage.1 The dependence of the Philippine oligarchy—a ruling class that dominated both politics and economic activity—on the United States is a widely noted feature of the country’s political system. Not only did those favored by the United States during the colonial period entrench their hold over Americancreated democratic institutions, they were also able to profit handsomely in material terms. After World War II, this elite looked to the United States to secure their future as rulers of an independent Philippines and found both military and economic support forthcoming. In the closing months of the war, returning

1.  Abinales and Amoroso 2005; Anderson 1998a; Hutchcroft 1998; Sidel 1999; Simbulan 2005.

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U.S. troops defended landowners against rising peasant demands and an armed rebellion. They disarmed a left-wing peasant group, the Hukbalahap (often known as the Huks), which sought not only to reorient the economy and political system but also to break with American patronage and the strings attached to it.2 After independence in 1946, the Philippine government used the military, constabulary, and private paramilitaries to suppress the Huk rebellion. The Philippine government reported that it killed over six thousand Huks and wounded nearly two thousand between 1950 and 1955.3 The government’s suppression of the rebellion was decisively aided by American support. This included American military and other security personnel directing several operations in the Philippines, collaborating closely with their Filipino counterparts and trainees, providing weapons and other military supplies, and directly financing parts of the military budget.4 The political challenge to the ruling elite’s pro-American orientation extended beyond the Huk movement. The two major treaties signed with the United States in 1947 covering economic and military relations for the next decades often appear as inevitable. In fact, both treaties were contested at the time and continued to be the object of nationalist and leftist criticisms. The military treaty, which granted basing rights to the United States and provided for intimate cooperation between the two militaries, and the economic treaty granting economic privileges to Americans in the form of “parity rights” with Filipinos were only accepted by the Philippine legislature after dissenting legislators were denied their seats.5 The close involvement of the United States in Philippine politics was part of a symbiotic relationship between the two countries, in which Philippine elites traded certain concessions in return for extensive material support.6 This kind of influence was not sustained through the 1970s, after Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, centralized state power, and escalated levels of coercion and intimidation against political opponents. Nonetheless, the United States made things easier for Marcos, providing him diplomatic support, access to substantial bilateral grants and multilateral lending, and ongoing collaboration with his security apparatus.7 2.  Kerkvliet 1977. Taruc 1954; Pommeroy 1974 denounce the American role from insider perspectives. 3.  Kerkvliet 1977, 245. 4.  Bonner 1987, 34–38; Kerkvliet 1977, 243–245; Pommeroy 1974; Tyner 2007. 5.  The vote to amend the constitution to allow parity rights for Americans was passed by one vote, after seven elected representatives were denied their seats. Kerkvliet 1977, 151. 6.  Cullather 1994; Bonnor 1987 (especially 38–50) detail the intimate U.S. involvement in Philippine politics, including inducements to secure Philippine troop contributions in Vietnam. 7.  Bonnor 1987 makes a convincing rebuttal of claims that Washington sought to undermine Marcos’s rule. On torture and the role of the United States, see McCoy 2006.

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American support was maintained until the last moments of the showdown with the “people’s power” uprising against Marcos in 1986, at which point the United States switched to backing the ascendant coalition led by Corazon Aquino. A few years later, in the leadup to a narrow and dramatic vote by the Philippine senate to end the military basing agreement with the United States, President Aquino made concerted efforts to win support for an extension of the agreement.8 With the restoration of democracy after 1986, opportunities for political participation increased, but while some new entrants have gained political power and challengers with a broader electoral base continue to mobilize, a remarkable level of continuity persists. Many of the old dynastic families continue to hold the reins of economic and political power at the local level, and textbooks continue to note the failure of broad-based political groups to gain effective representation.9 Politically motivated killings of left-wing activists rose again under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.10 Arroyo, the daughter of a former Philippine president, was also an ally of the United States in its “war on terror” and, like many of her predecessors, skilled in the art of turning American security concerns to political and material advantage.11 The influence of the United States on domestic political contests was equally significant in Thailand during the Cold War. In the aftermath of the Japanese defeat in World War II, a short-lived civilian government led by Pridi Bhanomyong, moderately left-leaning but noncommunist and antifascist, promised democratic reform. This possibility was derailed by a military coup in 1947, which set Thailand on course for successive military-led governments until the 1980s, apart from an interregnum in the mid-1970s. The United States did not lead this transition to authoritarian rule, but it did affect the balance of power between military and civilian elites and between those who favored an authoritarian capitalist order over more democratic and more inclusive political coalitions. The United States overruled British attempts to impose a postwar settlement on Thailand as a former enemy state, which would have included a decisive weakening of the armed forces. Although prospects for Thai democracy were certainly not the major concern of the United Kingdom, British officials noted at the time that reducing the power of the military in Thailand would be necessary if the country

  8.  Salonga 1995.   9.  Anderson 1998a; McCoy 1993; Sidel 1999. A local textbook describes political parties as “parties of notables whose main support is drawn from the politically active elite... dependent on and controlled by party bosses.” Party platforms “seldom articulate class, sector, or geographically-specific interests.” Velasco 2006, 102–103. 10.  Franco and Abinales 2007. 11.  Reid 2006.

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were to develop in a democratic direction.12 Instead, the United States directed resources to the army and gave military leaders tacit encouragement—and later diplomatic support—for their 1947 coup.13 In return, Thailand emerged as America’s frontline ally in Southeast Asia. Rather than being motivated by concerns about the international distribution of power, communism, or national security, archival research by Soravis Jayanama has shown that Thailand’s decision to throw in its lot with the United States early in the Cold War was the product of a desire by Field Marshal Phibunsongkram—generally known as Phibun—to obtain American military and economic aid in order to shore up his political position vis-à-vis members of his own “Coup Group” of generals and rival civilian elites. In 1949, Phibun himself declared in parliament that the country faced no communist threat, despite using the accusation of communism to tar all opponents.14 Until Thailand’s decision in February 1950 to recognize the Bao Dai government installed by the French, it had been following a flexible foreign policy: seeking American aid but adopting a wait-and-see posture with regard to recognizing governments in China and Indochina, much to the annoyance of U.S. officials. Assessments by the Thai foreign ministry in 1949 and early 1950 were explicit in arguing that the costs and risks of recognizing Bao Dai far outweighed the benefits. Recognition would, in the analysis of the ministry, run against Thailand’s foreign policy goals of anticolonialism and support for the UN policy of self-determination, it would associate Thailand with an illegitimate and unpopular ruler, it would unnecessarily risk alienating its neighbor should Ho Chi Minh’s forces prevail, and it would bring the Cold War to Thailand.15 Phibun pushed through the policy of recognition, but it was opposed by the deputy prime minister and six other ministers, including the minister of foreign affairs, who resigned over the decision.16 Even the American ambassador in Bangkok noted that the decision to recognize the Bao Dai government was opposed by the “majority of the thinking populace,” the “bulk of the press,” and “a majority of middle and high level officials.”17 What, then, motivated this far-reaching decision to transform Thailand’s foreign policy orientation from one of independence to alignment with the United States? The evidence marshaled by Jayanama points to the key role of U.S. aid, which had been delayed until the recognition decision was announced and which significantly helped Phibun’s political position. Thailand’s anticommunist 12.  Thak 2007, 55. 13.  Fineman 1997. 14.  Jayanama 2001, 224. 15.  Jayanama 2001, 234. 16.  Jayanama 2001, 235–238. 17.  Quoted in Jayanama 2001, 239.

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defense strategy postdated the decision and was geared to meeting Dean Acheson’s announcement that U.S. aid would be forthcoming only for countries that had their own anticommunist strategy in place.18 Similar evidence of the importance of American aid in consolidating Phibun’s rule and that of later military successors has been marshaled by Thak Chaloemtiarana.19 Thailand’s foreign and domestic policy of anticommunism thus preceded the communist threat—it was a device to neutralize political opponents and to secure American support. The rewards were significant. Large amounts of American aid were directed to the coercive institutions of the Thai state—the police and the military—and to later counterinsurgency campaigns.20 Although largely channeled through such establishments, American money was spread more broadly in a country that became flush with funds from military aid, infrastructure spending, warrelated exports, and military spending associated with the Vietnam War. It was this wave of money that underwrote the emergence of a Thai middle class that, by the 1970s, was impatient with the excesses, corruption, and ineptitude of the military government and therefore supported the student-led uprising in 1973 that led to the installation of a civilian coalition government.21 Until this time, powerholders were antagonistic toward any sign of organization or collective representation by popular forces. Industrial law severely restricted the rights of labor, and proposals for land reform to address widespread poverty in rural areas (where most Thais lived) encountered official resistance, informal intimidation, and assassination campaigns.22 When these hitherto-suppressed voices were given new opportunities to organize in the period between 1973 and 1976, the social and political tensions raised by popular demands triggered a sharp polarization in Thai society.23 Thailand’s pro-American foreign policy and military support for the American war effort in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos came explicitly under fire from student and leftist groups, and the main foreign policy initiatives of the coalition government were to close the American military bases and to make overtures to the new communist governments of Southeast Asia. This added to the fears of those who anticipated communist retaliation for Thailand’s role in the war. Rightwing groups and paramilitaries under the patronage of the royal family and the armed forces gave force to these concerns, propelled by middle-class anxieties about the rise of the left and the economic shock produced by the withdrawal 18.  Jayanama 2001, 238. 19.  Thak 2007, especially 51–70, 136–139, 155–177. 20.  Saiyud 1986. 21.  Anderson 1998c. 22.  Haberkorn 2007; Hewison and Chiu 2009. 23.  Anderson 1998c; Bowie 1997; Haberkorn 2007.

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of American military spending. In October 1976 right-wing paramilitaries, with support from the police and military, led a massacre of students at Thammasat University. The immediate result was the installation of a repressive anticommunist civilian government, which was replaced a year later in another military coup that “paved the way for the ‘natural’ return of the military domination of the Thai political life.”24 The coalitional bases of military rule did evolve. Economic growth meant the growth of the middle class and the political rise of business interests. In the 1980s, a degree of power-sharing with business and the middle class became more institutionalized.25 Military-led governments resumed cooperation with the United States, and although they did not receive the kind of bilateral aid bestowed on earlier military governments, political legitimacy in the transition to middle-class democracy was underwritten by access to multilateral lending when Thailand experienced an economic downturn in the early 1980s. Continued access to the American market was an essential precondition for the subsequent acceleration of economic growth. The new political coalition did not include organized labor or left-wing groups. Although an amnesty for those who had joined the communist insurgency brought some former leftists into the mainstream of middleclass politics, they were reintegrated as academics, cause-oriented reformists, and leaders of special-interest groups, rather than constituting a political left.26 The rise of middle-class politics and the conditional retreat of the military created new political dynamics, and incumbents did not rely in obvious ways on the support of the United States. Lingering fond memories of earlier years among some of those who had cooperated most closely with the United States produced in the security establishment a pro-American atmosphere.27 More critically, political leaders were dependent on the global market system and the U.S. market in particular. Hence they found it in their interest to go along with much of the Washington agenda during the 1980s and 1990s, which included the liberalization of financial markets that fueled the later stages of Thailand’s boom years. The major break came with the crisis of 1997, when tepid support from the IMF bundled with an austerity and reform package hit both business interests and political incumbents.28 The nationalist backlash came in the form of the rise of Thaksin Shinawatra, the country’s wealthiest businessman, critic of the IMF, proponent of a “national economy,” and opportunistic ally of the United States. Thaksin’s interests led him

24.  Thak 2007, 234. 25.  Anderson 1998b; Anek 1989. 26.  Some even emerged as supporters of the military government in 2006. See Ungpakorn 2007. 27.  Saiyud 2001. 28.  Pasuk and Baker 2000.

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both to cooperate with the United States—American pressure brought Thailand into the “coalition of the willing” in the war in Iraq, and Thaksin’s government pursued a preferential trade agreement with the United States—and to reject other American proposals and criticisms.29 The personalism and opportunism of his foreign policy (which critics decried as geared to the promotion of Thaksin’s own business interests) matched the mixture of personalism and populism in his domestic political strategy.30 He did, however, govern on the basis of a much broader coalition than any previous prime minister of Thailand, bringing large swaths of the rural population into national politics as an active constituency for the first time.31 The resistance that this engendered from the middle class and state elites was sufficient to see Thaksin removed in a military coup in 2006. And when pro-Thaksin forces again won the popular vote in elections held in 2007, they were again defeated through nonelectoral means in what was seen as a victory for royalist, bureaucratic, and middle-class interests.32 The ongoing political standoff and street protests that paralyzed much of the Thai government since 2006 demonstrate the enormous difficulty Thailand faces in adapting to more inclusive politics. Thaksin’s own failings, including authoritarian personalism and corruption, account for much of the middle-class opposition he faced. But his rise and defeat are also testimony to the ongoing consequences of the grand political bargain struck during the Cold War, in which the military and business came to terms with each other on the basis of labor exclusion and a disempowered rural sector. As one historian has observed, “Voters lack a left-wing option. The structure of the Thai party system appears fossilized, as if Cold War–era fears of being branded communist remain alive.”33 Unlike the Philippines and Thailand, Indonesia joined the fold of prowestern countries only in the mid-1960s and only after a bloody showdown between competing domestic forces. It was a domestic transition in which the hands of the United States are clearly visible, not as the leading actor but as cheerleader and paymaster, roles in which it continued for the next thirty-two years of militarybacked rule. Throughout, Indonesia declared allegiance to its “free and active” foreign policy, remaining nominally nonaligned but committed to a vehemently anticommunist stance. This marked a radical realignment of Indonesia’s foreign policy, which for most of the preceding two decades of independence had espoused an internationalist neutrality grounded in a desire to build solidarity with nonaligned

29.  Connors 2006. 30.  Pavin 2010. 31.  Pasuk and Baker 2004. 32.  Ockey 2009. 33.  Montesano 2007, 330.

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nations.34 At the time, the United States viewed neutralism with extreme suspicion, and American administrations became increasingly hostile to President Sukarno and anxious that Indonesia, with its large and legal domestic communist party, would turn communist. American anxieties led the United States to initiate covert action against Sukarno in support of breakaway political movements in two provinces—a policy that saw arms and logistics support for the rival governments as well as air raids flown by American pilots on civilian centers. The policy failed in that the rebellion was defeated by the central government, but the episode was tremendously significant. Not only did it push Sukarno toward a strident antiwestern posture, it also decisively strengthened the political hand of the armed forces as well as, temporarily, their chief rivals in the communist party, the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI).35 American support for the military, the army in particular, was also deliberate and direct, as it channeled aid and nurtured contacts in the army during the tumultuous early 1960s.36 When the army made its bid for power on the pretext of an attempted coup (which they were quick to blame on the PKI), it did so with the full support and encouragement of the American government. It is not necessary to claim that the CIA or any American agency instigated the 30 September–1 October 1965 coup to accept the evidence that the army’s response to it—mass killings of PKI members and other leftists, and a progressive takeover of the government—was encouraged and materially aided by the United States. Support from the United States consisted of prior training for the military to develop a capacity to take over the government, direct encouragement to take “robust” action against the PKI, the provision of names of members of the PKI, the supply of weapons and logistics support to units of the military engaged in the killings, and explicit approval of the anticommunist violence.37 The most common estimate is that around five hundred thousand Indonesians accused of involvement with the PKI were killed in the months after October 1965; even larger numbers suspected of left-wing sympathies were arrested and imprisoned for years.38 The anticommunist hysteria fomented by the army scarcely abated over the years, with the regime resurrecting the threat of communism even into the 1990s.39 The political system was thus one that violently 34.  This was most associated with the “Bandung spirit,” named after the first meeting of the “Afro-Asian nations” brought together by President Sukarno in the city of Bandung in 1955. Tan and Acharya 2008. 35.  Kahin and Kahin 1995 details the American actions and the political implications for Indonesia. 36.  Evans 1989; Simpson 2008. 37.  Roosa 2006, 176–201; Simpson 2008. 38.  Cribb 1990; Kammen and McGregor forthcoming. 39.  McGregor 2007.

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repressed even imagined instances of popular mobilization or left-wing activism.40 The explicit model was that the population was to be a “floating mass,” depoliticized except during ritual participation in stage-managed elections. Although the new regime, known as the New Order, did make “development” into something that could be called a performance-based means of legitimation, it did not rule on the basis of an inclusive political coalition. The exclusion of labor was particularly evident. All independent trade unions were banned, and industrial relations law and practice severely restricted the ability of workers to organize.41 An Indonesian scholar has argued that the killings not only changed the course of politics, they also paved the way for capitalist expansion in Indonesia: “The killing of trade union activists and workers in the plantations of North Sumatra, for example, signifies more than a violation of human rights. It signifies a defeat for the workers and reduction of the remaining workers’ will and capacity to resist the plantation owners.”42 Large numbers of workers disappeared as a result of the killings and imprisonments; others lost their landholdings. The disempowerment of the organized left was in line with the political fault lines that had hardened in the years leading up to the killings. These fault lines are consistent with the substantial involvement in the mass killings by members of the community, notably Muslim groups representing smallscale bourgeois and landholding interests threatened by increased peasant and worker assertiveness.43 The army, with considerable ownership interests in plantation and other businesses, had material as well as ideological stakes in protecting the capitalist order from such challenges. The procapitalist orientation of the New Order was not a happy coincidence for the United States. As shown by Bradley Simpson’s extensive archival evidence, American officials and political leaders were not driven to support the military takeover purely on the basis of calculations of the Cold War strategic balance.44 They also envisaged an economic order in Indonesia that would be friendly to business. While the kind of state-dominant capitalism that developed under the New Order was not quite what they wanted, it was a system that generally aligned the interests of American investors (particularly in the large resource sector that was opened to foreign investment), the strategic concerns of the American government, and the political interests of Indonesian powerholders.45 Although Suharto’s government needed the United States less when oil revenues increased 40.  Heryanto 2005. 41.  Hadiz 1997. 42.  Farid 2005, 9. 43.  Pipit 1985; Stoler 1985. 44.  Simpson 2008. 45.  Winters 1996.

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in the 1970s, American help was still welcome. Despite pervasive use of violence through to the end of the New Order, Indonesia received almost unstinting support from the United States, including the supply of weaponry and privileged access to multilateral lending.46 American help extended to backing the major Indonesian foreign policy venture of the New Order, the invasion and occupation of East Timor from the end of 1975 until 1999.47 As stated by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after the Indonesian invasion, “The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.”48 After the Cold War, U.S. human rights concerns led to a partial cutoff of weapons and military training in the 1990s. When the financial crisis hit Indonesia at the end of 1997, the United States finally abandoned Suharto, pressuring him to sign agreements with the IMF that contributed to the collapse of his government. In 1999, the United States added its weight to demands that Indonesia accept an Australian-led UN force to intercede in the military-orchestrated violence that followed East Timor’s vote for independence. It was this turnaround—not the years of support for authoritarian rule—that remained a cause for bitterness for several members of the Indonesian foreign policy community interviewed in 2007.49 One senior official claimed that Indonesia had been “doing America’s dirty work” in East Timor but was betrayed in the end. Another expressed considerable irritation with the intrusiveness of the Americans on human rights issues under President Bill Clinton, considering them prone to being “too noisy . . . but not as bad as the Europeans.”50 Regime interests in maintaining Suharto and his allies in power dominated the politics of the New Order and were the lens through which “security” was understood, justifying ongoing repressive actions against dissent.51 The exclusion of labor and the rural masses remained a constant, but economic growth and generational change within the state meant that there was some broadening of patronage networks and the political coalition supporting the New Order.52 The political constituency of the regime was expanded to include sections of the aspiring middle class, more private business interests, and a new Muslim elite. Democratization in the wake of Suharto’s forced resignation has seen three

46.  Roosa 2003; Winters 2000. 47.  Nevins 2005; Robinson 2010; Simpson 2005. 48.  Quoted in Nevins 2005, 72. 49.  A few explicitly denounced U.S. support for Suharto. 50.  Interviews 2 and 4. 51.  Anwar 1998; Heryanto 2005; Roosa 2003. 52.  Sidel 1998.

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national legislative elections, two direct presidential elections, and numerous elections for local governments. There is plenty of evidence of elite continuity and adaptation to new modes of political activity.53 To date, the Indonesian president who was reelected in 2009, unrepentant Suharto loyalist and former army general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has been able to finesse his popular mandate with a pro-Washington orientation, particularly as old elements within the political elite have been able to benefit from American actions.54 There is also, however, a genuine broadening of the political constituencies that now matter. The partial inclusion of previously silenced voices means that the domestic basis for alignment with the United States is in flux, particularly as Muslim groups gain greater influence after years of exclusion from most foreign policy decisions.55 The heavy lifting that secured the political position of ruling elites in postwar Malaysia and Singapore was done by Great Britain rather than the United States, but as Britain’s financial lifeline and senior strategic partner, the United States played a significant role. Political developments in Malaysia (Malaya until 1963) and Singapore were intertwined until the mid-1960s, a period when the political left was defeated in both places. The defeat of the left, which has not been able to reconstitute, still shapes political contests in these countries more than forty years later. The British colonies of Singapore and Malaya began the postwar period in a situation of rapidly escalating turmoil and political contestation. The economy was in disarray due to the war and Japanese occupation, and racial discrimination under Japanese rule—which saw ethnic Chinese bearing the brunt of repression and wartime massacres, while ethnic Malays were enlisted as collaborators—meant that the racialized social polarization imposed by earlier British policies was aggravated.56 Anti-Japanese resistance was run by the armed wing of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), which was associated with ethnic Chinese. As described by Cheah Boon Keng, in the period after the Japanese surrender, reprisals against perceived collaborators and armed clashes involving groups identified (often incorrectly) as CPM guerrillas took place in a period of lawlessness, further fueling interethnic tension.57 Attacks against returning British interests prompted increased British repression against left-wing unions and the CPM, which was declared illegal and thus was denied a political strategy. Under Emergency rule starting in 1948, efforts to defeat the CPM went hand in hand with determined efforts to restart the colonial economy. Malaya’s exports

53.  Hadiz 2010; Robison and Hadiz 2004. 54.  Hadiz 2006a. 55.  Anak Agung 2007; Sukma 2003. 56.  Cheah 2003. 57.  Ibid.

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to the United States were to play a vital role in closing Britain’s postwar “dollar gap,” a role of which U.S. officials were well aware and which laid the basis for American involvement in Vietnam.58 The defeat of the CPM involved political centralization and state-building in Malaya’s fragmented polity, a sustained military and police campaign, and an effort to “win hearts and minds” in the fight against communism—all conducted while Malaya was still a colony until 1957, although the Emergency was not declared over until 1960.59 Many aspects of counterinsurgency action— including collective reprisals and forced relocations of villagers—would not, in the words of the former CPM leader Chin Peng, “have passed today’s standards of what constitutes human rights.”60 Britain was determined to place its colony securely in the hands of a conservative, anticommunist, and probusiness elite before handing over sovereignty. These elites were not, however, representative of the general population, which included a wide range of contending societal groups and interests, many with agendas that differed substantially from those of the political groups that ultimately gained power.61 The political alliance that took power consisted of an ethnic Malay elite drawn largely from the bureaucracy and an equally elite group of ethnic Chinese business leaders, with the Malays given the dominant political role.62 Both were to some extent answerable to their respective ethnic constituencies, but communal politics favored vertically oriented, clientelistic political action rather horizontal class-based alliances. The eclipse of the left and other rival social visions—including a popular and broadly leftist Islamic political party—did not come about by chance. The CPM was denied a political strategy, and the noncommunist left was subject to repeated attacks as supposed communist front organizations, vulnerable to arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Informal intimidation and strong-arm tactics were also used to disband independent unions. A deluge of government propaganda through an increasingly nonindependent media demonized left-wing dissent and “communist terrorist” actions.63 The political coalition that underpinned the solidly prowestern, anticommunist Malaysian foreign policy under its first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was thus one that secured its position through appeal to ethnic solidarity

58.  Rotter 1987. 59.  Stubbs 1989. 60.  Chin 2003, 511. Hack 1999 emphasizes the role of coercive population control and intimidation. 61.  Harper 1999. 62.  Case 1996; Crouch 1996; Jesudason 1989; Jomo 1986. 63.  Jomo and Todd 1994; Weiss 2011.

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while promising to ensure stability for foreign and local business owners.64 Positive attitudes toward the United States as the main actor fighting communism in Southeast Asia were linked to the political contest with the left. Symbolically, the Malaysian flag was modeled on the American one—a rejection of the ­Indonesian-styled red-and-white flag proposed by some leftist nationalists.65 In policy terms, Malaya duly recognized the government of South Vietnam and provided a generally supportive voice for American foreign policy. It received only modest rewards from the United States, and Malaysian officials periodically expressed disappointment that more was not forthcoming. Nonetheless, many bilateral programs, including exchanges and aid, were instituted.66 Most importantly, the U.S. market remained open for Malayan exports. Although the Tunku and his ruling coalition did not owe their position to the United States, they benefited politically from the American fight against communism in the region, given that anticommunism animated much of the Malaysian elite’s political strategy, before interethnic redistribution became a central political platform after 1969. The American role in Southeast Asia was also appreciated for the support it gave Malaysia during Indonesia’s policy of “Confrontation” against the formation of the expanded country that resulted from Malaya’s 1963 merger with the British colonies of Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) and Singapore. Military support was provided by the United Kingdom along with contingents sent from Australia and New Zealand. Nonetheless, Malaysian leaders were grateful for American diplomatic support (including for Malaysia’s election to a UN Security Council seat in 1964) and, as the U.S. position against Sukarno’s Indonesia hardened, a program of military training and credits for weapons sales. American officials saw the creation of Malaysia positively, as something that would “complete a wide anti-communist arc enclosing the entire South China Sea.” The primary role accorded to the United Kingdom on the ground rested on “a tacit understanding . . . that United States was carrying in Vietnam all the burden with respect to Southeast Asia that we should carry at the time, and that Britain would consider the protection of the Malaysian area a British responsibility.”67 The mobilization against Indonesia’s Confrontation is usually read in terms of the strategic necessity of defending the sovereign statehood of the newly merged

64.  On Malaysian foreign policy in the first decades of independence, see Saravanamuttu 1983. On the continuities in the economic order during the 1960s, see Jesudason 1989. 65.  I thank Dato Zakaria Haji Ahmad for information on the Tunku’s deliberate choice to model the Malaysian flag on the American one. On the leftists’ proposal for a red-and-white Indonesianthemed flag, see Milner 2005, 146. 66.  Sodhy 1991. 67.  Quoted in Sodhy 1991, 234, 248.

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entity of Malaysia. This perspective, however, misses the political and economic interests behind both merger and Confrontation. From the perspective of powerholders in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and the colonial officials overseeing the process, merger was an explicitly political project. The Malayan prime minister reversed his earlier rejection of the idea of merger with Singapore in 1961 only when prompted by the gains made by the political left in Singapore. Mass arrests of left-wing politicians and trade unionists were made a condition of merger, and duly took place early in 1963. The move served blatantly political ends for Lee Kuan Yew, the embattled prime minister of Singapore who had been facing a strong electoral challenge from the political left led by former members of his own party who commanded mass support from the electorate and unions.68 Lee was cannily able to take advantage of the arrangements governing internal security in Singapore after 1956, under which the Singapore government shared responsibility for internal security with Kuala Lumpur and London. British archives make it clear that Lee was able to use this arrangement to deflect publicly the responsibility for arrests of his political opponents while privately urging the tripartite security council to sanction an even more extensive list of opponents slated for detention.69 British plans for the Malaysia project were also motivated by the wish to secure stability for business in the former colonies and to preempt leftist or “radical” political change. Based on abundant archival and interview material marshaled in Greg Poulgrain’s study of the genesis of Indonesia’s Confrontation policy, Sukarno’s charge at the time, that Malaysia was a neoimperialist project designed to undermine progressive change and ensure western capitalist interests in the region, appears to have some basis in fact.70 Certainly, the evidence speaks against the public claims put out by Malaysian and British officials that Indonesian expansionism was the main driver of Confrontation. When the Malaysia project was first announced, Indonesia did not object to it. Confrontation came only after the project became associated with repressive moves against leftists in Singapore and Brunei and British diplomatic provocation.71 American officials at the time noted that Malaysian leaders found Confrontation useful in diverting attention from their own internal political problems, particularly the tensions of racialized politics and strains in the relationship between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.72 Confrontation also provided the opportunity to resurrect earlier 68.  Harper 2001; Trocki 2006. 69.  Harper 2001; Wade 2010. 70.  Poulgrain 1999. See also Wade 2010. 71.  Poulgrain 1999; Kahin 2003. Confrontation was also a product of the domestic political situation in Indonesia, serving limited political purposes for different actors. Weinstein 1969. 72.  Sodhy 1991, 262.

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Emergency-era restrictions, especially crackdowns on labor mobilization, which were then codified and tightened in the Industrial Relations Act of 1967.73 There was thus more to merger and Confrontation than uncontested national interests in defending sovereignty. Despite restrictions targeting unions and the political opposition, rising discontent with the consequences of the political bargain underpinning the governing coalition saw the opposition gain ground in the 1969 elections. Although the ruling Alliance comfortably won a majority of seats, its share of the vote slipped to 48 percent, with the left-leaning Islamic opposition party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), gaining nearly 24 percent and the leftist Democratic Action Party nearly 14 percent.74 The deadly racial riots in Kuala Lumpur that followed the election results favored the rise of a new generation of Malay political leaders.75 The reconstituted political elite embarked on an aggressive program of interethnic redistribution, which justified the massive escalation of state economic activism, including the establishment and growth of a large state-owned enterprise sector tasked with creating a new Malay—or Bumiputera—business class.76 Curbs on the growth of ethnic Chinese business were underwritten by turning to foreign investors and state investment as substitutes, in what James Jesudason has argued was an essentially political strategy.77 The degree to which non-Malay constituencies have mattered has varied with the state of the economy and the need to compete with rival parties, but underrepresentation of non-Malay interests and coercive limits placed on groups seeking a fundamental reorientation of development priorities have been consistent features of the political landscape.78 Charges of communism rang hollow by the late 1970s, especially when raised against political opponents with solidly mainstream credentials, but detention under the ISA remained a device used for political purposes. A raft of other measures restricted the political activity of leftist groups, unions, and those seeking to empower constituencies sidelined by the ruling coalition. Political activity by students was banned, the press and media operated under tight government control, and unions and employees continued to operate under a restrictive legal framework. 73.  Jomo 1986, 236. 74.  Means 1991, 6. 75.  Means 1991, 6–10. See Kua 2007, 2008 on complicity on the part of the Malay-dominated state security apparatus and the political benefits accruing to rising Malay politicians. 76.  Bumiputera literally means son of the soil and is used to refer to ethnic Malays and other “indigenous” groups in Malaysia. It thus excludes Malaysians from other ethnic groups, principally ethnic Chinese and Indians. 77.  Jesudason 1989. 78.  On the range of political controls available—and used—by the government, see Case 1996; Crouch 1996, 77–95. On the enforced demise of student activism, see Weiss 2011.

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The political shift from 1969 ushered in a new era in the country’s foreign policy. Malaysia moved from its pronounced prowestern and anticommunist foreign policy to one that favored nonalignment, at least rhetorically.79 Under the leadership of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (1981–2003), dramatic antiwestern outbursts punctuated foreign policy. Mahathir took on the mantle of spokesman for the global South, added a more explicitly Islamic element to foreign policy, and ran a combative campaign against alleged western intrusion on issues such as human rights, the environment, and labor standards, which often put him at odds with the United States in multilateral settings.80 Bilaterally, the major point of long-running contention was the U.S. opposition to Mahathir’s agenda for an Asian-centered regional grouping, which he espoused throughout the 1990s. The role of the United States in the Asian financial crisis of 1998 and its support for Mahathir’s sacked deputy and political rival, Anwar Ibrahim, also soured bilateral relations. It is notable that most of these points of contention had a clear connection with Mahathir’s domestic political interests, in justifying his own version of restricted “Asian-style” democracy and protecting his rule against the disruptive threat presented by the financial crisis of 1998 and the ensuing Reformasi (reform) movement associated with Anwar Ibrahim. But Mahathir was known as much for his pragmatism as for his acerbic rhetoric, and the bases of his domestic position more consistently rested on Malaysia’s continued integration with the global economy, including access to the U.S. market. Hence Mahathir could be conciliatory in private and quick to seize opportunities to benefit from cooperation with the United States, including during the American “war on terror” after 2001.81 Although Singapore was ejected from Malaysia in 1965, the defeat of the left orchestrated as part of the process of merger was an enduring legacy. Lee Kuan Yew’s ruling party used the opportunity to deal a decisive blow against the opposition, arresting more than a hundred politicians, unionists, and others in the runup to merger and following up with a series of legislative and regulatory changes that brought about the demise of Singapore’s previously vigorous independent trade unions and political opposition.82 These actions were sufficient to win the confidence of the United States, which had viewed Lee Kuan Yew and his People’s Action Party (PAP) with suspicion. By the late 1960s, U.S. attempts to woo Lee Kuan Yew overcame earlier friction, including a bungled CIA attempt to infiltrate the Singapore internal security apparatus, compounded by an offer

79.  Saravanamuttu 1983. 80.  Dhillon 2009; Jeshurun 2007. 81.  Nesadurai 2006. 82.  Barr and Trocki 2008; Trocki 2006.

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to pay for the release of the American operatives.83 This positioned the two countries for close and supportive relations over the next decades, as Singapore’s rapid economic development depended on access to the American market and American investment and Singapore’s economy benefited handsomely from the projection of American power in Southeast Asia. Although Lee Kuan Yew denied that Singapore profited from the Vietnam War when later confronted with a request for compensation by a Vietnamese official, the economic benefits of the war in Vietnam were noted by his own officials at the time.84 Singapore’s friendly insertion into the U.S.-defined regional and global order underwrote economic growth rates that were central to regime legitimation.85 Until a by-election in 1981 brought a single opposition politician to parliament, the ruling party held all legislative seats from the 1968 elections onwards. Many legal, administrative, and practical obstacles continue to stand in the way of opposition parties. Although the PAP is sensitive to declines in electoral support, its comfortable political advantages mean that it is often able to override popular demands. It is possible to argue that, in the 1960s, the PAP’s need to secure broad societal support required it to deliver goods to the political constituency previously captured by its defeated opponents, a requirement that produced an extensive public housing program and progressive taxation.86 However, the complete inability of former political opponents to challenge the government undercuts the judgment that the new PAP needed to win over the political ground that its opponents had previously commanded. By the end of the 1960s, potential opposition leaders were interned under the ISA, in exile, or intimidated. Together with the prohibition of political activity in schools, universities, unions—and indeed all societal groups other than registered political parties—this meant that the grassroots institutions that had been organizing vehicles for the left were neutralized. Given the coercive means employed, it makes more sense to see this decade as marking the defeat of the left rather than its cooption into the ruling political coalition. Another question about the constituency of the Singapore ruling party concerns the role of private business. The PAP was not, in its early decades, a party of local business interests.87 To meet its needs for investment, the Singapore ruling elite placed its bets on attracting foreign capital and on developing a large stateowned enterprise sector—neither of which could present a potential political 83.  An account of the episode, which has been publicly affirmed by Lee Kuan Yew, is provided in Baker 2005, which also charts the turnaround in relations from mutual suspicion to close alignment. 84.  Lee 2000, 348–350; Stubbs 1999, 354. 85.  As in most other noncommunist countries in the region. See Alagappa 1995. 86.  Doner, Slater, and Ritchie 2005. 87.  Rodan 1989.

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challenge. This can be read as similar to the strategy of the Malaysian political elite, which turned to politically acquiescent foreign investment as a substitute for domestic ethnic Chinese business.88 When it was clear that business actors would not pose a political challenge, the government increasingly incorporated members of the local business elite into politics and public positions.89 James Cotton has argued that the PAP has first and foremost ruled to secure the preeminence of its own leaders rather than acting in the class interests of business.90 This, however, is consistent with a generally probusiness outlook and a political constituency based on an aspiring middle class of career professionals who, as discussed in the next section, have disproportionately captured the rewards of economic growth. The PAP has used both domestic and foreign security threats to justify political controls and restrictions on civil liberties, including ongoing powers of indefinite preventive detention, an iron grip on all mainstream media, and an array of restrictions on speech and political activity. This has been the source of occasional friction with the United States. In the 1970s, Foreign Minister Rajaratnam fulminated about “non-communist subversion” by western interests.91 The United States was the explicit target of the government’s anger over what it called political interference in 1987.92 In the 1990s, when the United States during the Clinton presidency abandoned some of its Cold War–era deference to autocratic allies and gave a higher profile to human rights and democratization, Lee Kuan Yew and members of his foreign policy establishment responded by leading (along with Malaysia’s Mahathir) the “Asian values” counterattack.93 More often, however, the Singapore government’s trumpeting of domestic and foreign security threats has neatly dovetailed with American priorities, including its wars in the post-2001 period.94 The Singapore government’s reiteration of the need for the United States to provide “strategic balance” and to act as a regional security guarantor gains traction in a country where existential security threats have been regularly invoked.95 Whether sincere or not, such constant declarations of

88.  Jesudason 1989. 89.  Hamilton-Hart 2000. 90.  Cotton 1995. 91.  Rajaratnam 1975. 92.  The affair led to the expulsion of an American diplomat and the detention under the ISA of the former solicitor general, who had announced his entry into politics after clashing with Lee Kuan Yew. A firsthand account is provided in Seow 1994. 93.  Chong 2004. On the political expedience of the discourse for authoritarian Asian leaders, see Kim 1994; Robison 1996. 94.  Rodan and Hewison 2006. 95.  Ganesan 1998 and 2005; Leifer 2000.

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vulnerability serve regime maintenance purposes, legitimating an array of political controls and impositions on Singapore society.96

Economic Interests: The Distribution of Regional Prosperity Assertions that the United States has been crucial for regional stability and prosperity are commonplace in foreign policy circles. Actually calculating the net impact of American actions since 1945 is impossible: the task would involve too many uncertainties, unverifiable counterfactual scenarios, competing normative priorities, and unpalatable moral tradeoffs. We can, however, sketch the distribution of material gains in the region. How much these should be attributed to the United States is a separate question, but to the extent that the United States has been influential, looking at the distribution of economic gains allows us to define with more precision the groups that have had particular interests in the pattern of development produced under American hegemony. There is a strong case for seeing economic growth in Southeast Asia as pivotally underwritten by the United States for much of the last sixty years. Richard Stubbs has provided the most comprehensively argued account of how the Cold War role of the United States influenced economic development.97 Significant injections of American aid to its allies, military spending associated with the war in Vietnam, infrastructure development, and, of course, access to the U.S. market played a big part in the growth stories of noncommunist Southeast Asia. While military spending and bilateral aid diminished in importance, the export-led growth strategies of regional countries continued to depend on the U.S. market. The United States was the major source of foreign direct investment (FDI) that drove export growth in the pre-1980 and post-1998 periods. Although the importance of U.S. investment was for a while displaced by FDI from Japan and other newly industrialized countries, the wave of intra-Asian investment that fueled much of the region’s growth in the decade after 1985 was ultimately predicated on demand in the U.S. consumer market and subject to what Bruce Cumings has termed “a light hand on the Japanese jugular” held by the United States.98 More controversially, given the association with uneven economic performance and some spectacular failures, friendly relations with the United States

96.  Ganesan 1998, 596; Hamilton-Hart 2009; Rahim 2009; Rodan and Hewison 2006. 97.  Stubbs 2005. 98.  Cumings 1997, 155. On the triangular structure of regional production networks, fueled by Japanese investment but based on U.S. consumption, see Bernard and Ravenhill 1995.

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also underlay the privileged status of Indonesia and the Philippines as borrowers from the World Bank. Multilateral lending to these countries granted wellpositioned domestic actors access to external finance that they were able to seize for their own purposes.99 Although the inefficient and abusive patterns of elite appropriation of multilateral lending to Indonesia and the Philippines are not repeated throughout the region, the question of how the gains of export-led growth have been distributed remains pertinent. The rest of this chapter identifies two groups that have disproportionately benefited from patterns of growth supported by the United States: state elites and owners of large private firms. These groups roughly correspond with the key political constituencies of the largely pro-American powerholders who consolidated their positions by the mid-1960s. Conversely, the losers—at least in relative terms—and those who have borne the brunt of the adverse impacts of growth are concentrated among groups most excluded from ruling coalitions. The contention that rapid growth in East Asia was based on broad, inclusive wealth-sharing policies is not supported by evidence from Southeast Asia.100 The first group of leading beneficiaries of economic growth is state elites: those who inhabit political offices, bureaucratic organizations, public agencies, and state-owned enterprises. While state elites can have predatory or parasitic relationships with the economy, a key characteristic of many in Southeast Asia is their direct material interest in economic enterprise and capitalist development. This interest is a product of the substantial overlap between business and government in every Southeast Asian country, although the institutional forms this has taken have varied, as have the developmental consequences. Whether for good or ill in macroeconomic terms, the relationship between wealth and power has been enduringly close.101 One element of this relationship lies in the state-owned sector of each economy. In Malaysia, the enormous infusion of state spending that began with the New Economic Policy (NEP) in the early 1970s included large amounts channeled to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and trust companies, which developed a portfolio of listed and unlisted companies. The NEP thus meant that the “state as entrepreneur” became a major corporate actor, with stakes in banks, plantation companies, and heavy industries.102 Despite a policy of privatization beginning

  99.  Broad 1988; Winters 2000. 100.  As claimed in Campos and Root 1996, a widely cited precrisis book. Southeast Asia does partially conform with one prong of the “shared growth” strategy identified by Campos and Root: “encouraging the business community, particularly big business, to make long-term investments and upgrade organization and management” (1996, 29). The wealth sharing with nonelites that they identify—particularly land reform—applies to Northeast Asia, not Southeast Asia. 101.  MacIntyre 1994; McVey 1992; Rodan, Hewison, and Robison 2006. 102.  Jesudason 1989, 84–100.

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in the 1980s, the number of SOEs in Malaysia grew from 54 in 1970 to 1,139 in 1990.103 Political parties in the governing coalition also established their own corporate interests, although these party-owned assets were later divested to individuals.104 “Non-financial public enterprises” account for around 40 percent of total public sector revenues.105 The Malaysian state has thus had very tangible, direct, and significant business interests since the 1970s. The same can be said of Singapore, where the state moved into business in the 1960s, often coinvesting with private actors, setting up firms in heavy industries, establishing a development bank (the Development Bank of Singapore, which became Singapore’s largest commercial bank), and continuing to provide substantial coinvestment finance to targeted industries in the 1990s and 2000s.106 Government-linked companies (GLCs) are active in almost every sector and invest both locally and abroad.107 With the exception of the banking and property sectors, where local Singaporean big businesses have traditionally focused their activities, GLCs are the largest domestic players in Singapore’s economy, second only to foreign-owned firms. The earnings of GLCs and government investment sources contribute about a third of total public sector revenues.108 Notwithstanding large losses in its investments in American and European crisis-hit banks in 2008, one of the two main government holding companies, Temasek Holdings, valued its portfolio at over US$120 billion as of 2010.109 Indonesia’s state enterprise sector traces its origins to the establishment of state-owned banks and firms in the 1950s, many of which were created through the nationalization of Dutch and other foreign assets. Far from declining with the change of regime in 1966, SOEs expanded across many sectors, including oil and gas, heavy industries, and banking, making the state a major vehicle for capital accumulation.110 The military was also an owner of corporate assets. It acquired interests in plantations and other companies initially seized from 103.  Suehiro 2008, 166. 104.  Gomez 1994. 105.  General government revenue and nonfinancial public enterprise revenues are reported in the Annual Report of Bank Negara Malaysia, the central bank. 106.  Hamilton-Hart 2002, 91. 107.  Low 1998; Vennewald 1994; Yoshihara 1988. 108.  Singapore’s public finances are complex and not reported transparently. Nonetheless, the gap between government revenue reported by the Yearbook of Statistics from the Department of Statistics and the total public sector revenue that used to be reported in the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Economic Survey of Singapore has been between 11% and 22% of GDP, or around one third to one half of total public sector revenue. Investment income, when it was last included in government revenue as reported in the Yearbook of Statistics in 1991, probably accounted for 24% of government revenue. 109.  According to the Temasek Holdings website: www.temasekholdings.com.sg, as of 25 May 2010. The other holding company is the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, which has a larger portfolio (the size is not disclosed publicly) invested abroad. 110.  Robison 1986.

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foreign ownership by Indonesian workers in the 1950s and added to its portfolio over the years, particularly in rent-dominated sectors such as forestry and the illegal economy.111 Indonesian SOEs have performed poorly from a financial perspective—failures include a debt crisis sparked by the government-owned oil company in the midst of an oil boom in 1975 and repeated bailouts of stateowned banks—but the large scale of the SOE sector has produced significant effects on public finances and the distribution of wealth.112 Although less commonly associated with having a large state-owned sector, the governments of Thailand and the Philippines both have longstanding and substantial corporate interests. In a survey of the SOE sector in the region as of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the state was shown to be the dominant shareholder in a significant proportion of each country’s largest companies. State-­controlled companies accounted for 34 percent of sales in Thailand.113 The number of Thai SOEs decreased from 102 in 1960 to 52 in 1997, but, judging by assets and revenues, the SOE sector was anything but in decline, registering growth in assets from 14.7 billion baht in 1958 to 1,542.4 billion baht in 1997; and in revenue from 3.2 billion baht in 1958 to 473.1 billion baht in 1992. SOEs accounted for more than a third of total assets of Thailand’s hundred largest firms in the late 1970s and mid-1980s.114 The state sector has been somewhat smaller in the Philippines, but state-controlled companies accounted for 30 percent of sales of large companies in the late 1980s, and the number of SOEs rose from 40 in 1960 to 256 in 1990 after peaking in the mid-1980s.115 Reforms since the 1997 Asian financial crisis have not greatly changed this picture. Surveys of ownership of listed companies in East Asia as of 1996 and 2007 show that the region’s financial crisis of 1997 increased levels of state ownership. As of 2007, the percentage of large listed companies with the state as their dominant shareholder ranged from 8 percent in the Philippines (up from 4 percent in 1996), 25 percent in Indonesia (up from 10 percent), 26 percent in Singapore (down from 33 percent), and 37 percent in Thailand (up from 9 percent) to 42 percent in Malaysia (up from 12 percent).116 All governments in the region, then, have a direct stake in the corporate sector. The form this has taken and the 111.  Crouch 1988, 273–303; Kingsbury and McCulloch 2006. 112.  Hamilton-Hart 2002, 53, 158–159; MacIntyre 2000. 113.  Suehiro 2008, 159. The corresponding figures were 12% in Singapore and 67% in Indonesia. 114.  Suehiro 2008, 165; 1992, 38. 115.  Suehiro 2008, 159, 166. 116.  Based on preliminary estimates, as calculated in Carney 2010, 14. The figures should not be taken as representative of trends in the state-owned sector as a whole. Although crisis-related government takeovers of corporate assets were substantial (and only partially divested), part of the increasing state-linked share of publicly traded companies stems from partial privatization and listing of SOEs.

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uses to which it has been put vary substantially. Institutionalized state ownership prevails in Singapore, where GLCs have served to spearhead business development in targeted sectors, while SOEs have been used as vehicles for personal wealth extraction by state managers in Indonesia and have served to incubate an ethnic Malay business class in Malaysia.117 Regardless of the purposes of the stateowned sector, its existence means that state elites have a direct material stake in the growth of modern corporate enterprises and, more diffusely, a stake in the capitalist order supported by the United States. A second element in the relationship between powerholders and the fortunes of the modern capitalist sector lies in the personal and political relationships forged between the two. A political bargain between state and private business has been central to the growth experience of the region, by and large assuring investors of probusiness property rights regimes and macroeconomic stability.118 The relationships linking business and government also allowed for more specific and personal interests in business development. Private businesses were initially seen as sources of extractive predation by state elites in some countries, or as a potential political threat. But as the business sector grew—in no small part due to the role of the state sector as incubator—private business interests asserted themselves as political allies and political incumbents. Close ­business-government relations in Southeast Asia were heralded as productive partnerships in the boom years before the crisis of 1997 but before and since were often described as parasitic, constituting systems of “crony capitalism” or pervasive rent-seeking.119 The developmental consequences of close business-government relations have been widely debated, along with the questions such as whether the region was seeing a form of “ersatz capitalism” develop and whether local businesses have been “rentseekers or real capitalists.”120 All strands of these debates, however, agree that the material interests of large local firms have not been divorced from the interests of those in power. In the Philippines, a private-sector elite has long been able to seize the state for instrumental purposes or, as Paul Hutchroft has termed it, the extraction of “booty” from public coffers or government-created rents.121 By the 1990s, as a consequence of trends set in motion two decades earlier, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia had reproduced key elements of the Philippine model, albeit in different ways and with different legacies. In Malaysia and Indonesia, politically 117.  Gomez and Jomo 1997; Jesudason 1989; Low 1998; Robison 1986. 118.  Haggard 2004. 119.  On the optimistic side, see Anek 1989; Campos and Root 1996; McVey 1992. Mixed and critical assessments include Khan 2000; MacIntyre 1994; Robison and Hadiz 2004. 120.  Searle 1999; Yoshihara 1988. 121.  Hutchroft 1998.

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powerful actors within the state developed private business interests, the result of both official (Malaysia) and unofficial (Indonesia) state incubation. The development of an ethnic Malay business elite using state resources in the 1970s thus provided the political basis for an extensive privatization program beginning in the 1980s. The political elite became more of a business elite than a bureaucratic one.122 In the case of ethnic Chinese big business, both direct political representation and patronage-based relations continued to bridge political and business spheres.123 In Indonesia, the paradigmatic case of the personalization of governmentbusiness relations was that of President Suharto and his family. Suharto forged patronage relationships with selected ethnic Chinese businessmen, who exchanged political favor and access to state rents for generous funding of Suharto’s personal and political ventures. The pattern was replicated by other powerholders in the New Order, to the extent that virtually every Indonesian private conglomerate was linked with a state patron.124 Suharto’s children and those of many senior state officials went directly into business on their own account, with generous subsidies provided by state banks and access to government rents, as well as alliances with ethnic Chinese business. Despite the turmoil of the financial crisis and Indonesia’s post-Suharto democratization, there was considerable continuity in what began to be called Indonesia’s oligarchic elite, a group of powerholders spanning business and political fields.125 If  “the rulers went into business” in Malaysia and Indonesia, in Thailand business got into politics on its own account.126 The rise of Thaksin Shinawatra, who emerged as Thailand’s wealthiest businessman after the 1997 crisis and became prime minister in 2001, serves as the emblematic example of the blurred lines between business and politics.127 Not all Thai businesses pursued an overt political strategy, but the long-term support of the Thai state was important in establishing the basis for Thailand’s leading business families in banking, agribusiness, and manufacturing.128 And while clientilistic relations partially gave way to more institutionalized forms of accommodation between government and business, the interests of privileged businesses were often closely associated with those of political powerholders and officials.129 122.  Gomez and Jomo 1997; Jomo 1995; Leigh 1992. 123.  Gomez 1999. 124.  Mackie 1990; Robison 1986; Sato 1994. 125.  Robison and Hadiz 2004. 126.  The phrase is owed to Enggak Bahau’ddin, who pointed out in 1974 that Indonesia’s rulers were becoming businessmen. Quoted in Chalmers and Hadiz 1997, 54. 127.  Pasuk and Baker 2004. 128.  Hewison 1989; Suehiro 1992, 2008. 129.  Doner 2009; Hewison and Chiu 2009; Rock 2000.

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The extensive literature on business-government relations in the region is generally aimed at showing the dependence of business on political favors—or, expressed in more positive terms, the developmental role of the government. The same evidence can also be read as indicative of the material interests of ruling elites and their political supporters in the kind of capitalist development path charted in U.S.-aligned Southeast Asia. The one apparent exception is instructive. In Singapore, where the ruling party was initially suspicious of local business owners and did not rely on them for political support, state-owned businesses have not played an incubator role for private business interests to develop within the state. We do not often hear of Singaporean officials extracting personal business interests from their roles in government-linked companies or developmental statutory authorities. However, it is no secret that state elites have been extraordinarily well rewarded in salary terms, and state sector careers frequently serve as a springboard for lucrative salaried careers in the private sector. Thus, although there has been increasing cooption and intermingling between state and local business over time, the state has been most oriented to serving the interests of the salaried professional class, with an interest in the development of business activity regardless of nationality and typically middle-class concerns with investor protection, corporate governance, and consumption. In contrast to state elites and their allies in the business sector and urban middle class, labor, rural populations, and populations geographically distant from political centers have been comparatively marginalized in these Southeast Asian growth stories. Their political marginalization was a direct consequence of the defeat of the left and the enactment of industrial relations regimes that were strongly tilted in favor of employers. Independent trade unions were effectively extinguished in Singapore and Indonesia and have only reemerged in Indonesia after the end of the New Order in 1998.130 In Thailand until 1975, workers lacked even the right to form a union; “since then,” as Kevin Hewison and Catherine Chiu write, “government has worked assiduously to limit their capacity to act for their members.”131 In Malaysia, independent trade unions continued to exist after crackdowns on the organized left in the 1960s, but their activities were tightly circumscribed by law and employment practice.132 The political and structural disadvantages facing labor, the poor, and rural populations do not mean that these groups did not benefit at all from the economic growth that occurred in the region. Gains have filtered down, as widely reported indicators of economic progress indicate. Indicators of economic performance

130.  Deyo 1989; Hadiz 1997; Loh and Fernandez 2008. 131.  Hewison and Chiu 2009, 18. 132.  Jomo and Todd 1994.

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Table 1  Indicators of developmental progress, 2005 GDP per capita

PPP

USD

Poverty and welfare

Growth 1975–2005 (%)

HPI (%)

$2 PPP per day (%)*

HDI (2005)

HDI (1975)

Indonesia

3,843

1,302

3.9

18.2

53.8

0.726

0.471

Malaysia

10,882

5,142

3.9

8.3

7.8

0.811

0.619

Philippines

5,135

1,192

0.4

15.3

45.0

0.771

0.655

Singapore

29,663

26,893

4.7

0.922

0.729

Thailand

8,677

2,750

4.9

10.0

11.5

0.781

0.615

Vietnam

3,071

631

5.2**

15.2

48.4

0.733

HPI: Human Poverty Index. Percentage of the population classified as poor on the basis of rates of mortality, literacy, access to clean water, and underweight children. HDI: Human Development Index. Calculated on the basis of life expectancy, literacy, education enrollment, and per capita GDP in PPP (purchasing power parity) terms. *Percentage of the population living on less than US$2 per day at PPP. Reference year varies from 2004 to 2006. **Less than stated range. Sources: UNDP 2007; ADB 2009.

are presented in table 1, which confirms the high average growth rates in per capita GDP achieved over the past thirty years, with the exception of the Philippines. There is wide variation in per capita GDP, roughly corresponding with different postwar starting points, again with the exception of the Philippines. Although there are still significant rates of poverty in two of the noncommunist countries aligned with the United States, a variety of measures of poverty and well-being show that welfare gains have been realized over time. Declines in poverty do not capture the distribution of gains from economic growth or the government’s priorities. After all, almost all countries have shown increases in their Human Development Index (HDI) scores over the same time period.133 The average HDI gain for the five Southeast Asian countries between 1975 and 2005 was 185 basis points. The average increase among a group of 47 developing countries over the same time was 163 basis points—lower, but not by a great amount.134 In fact, given that the Southeast Asian five as a group have had much higher economic growth rates than the developing world average, they

133.  Of those for which there are data, only three countries in the global rankings produced by the UNDP registered negative HDI performance—Zimbabwe, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 134.  The forty-seven consist of countries now listed as high and medium human development in the UNDP HDI rankings, for which there is an HDI figure available for both 1975 and 2005, and for which the HDI figure in 1975 was no higher than that of Singapore in that year. Seven countries that have very high AIDS infection rates (above 5% of the adult population—5% being the average for sub-Saharan Africa) have been excluded.

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have lagged in translating economic growth into increases in the human development measures captured by the HDI, despite this index including per capita GDP as a component. A closer examination of each country’s record in terms of equity and poverty confirms that economic growth in these Southeast Asian countries has disproportionately benefited upper- and middle-income groups. Distributional patterns reflect the underlying political coalition or support base of each ruling group. As Donald Crone argues, the relatively narrow coalitional bases of regimes in the Philippines and Thailand explain their low political capacity and motivation for redistributive policies, with the consequence that benefits of economic growth have been disproportionately captured by upperincome groups. The significant broadening of the political constituency relevant to powerholders in Malaysia after the crisis in 1969, in contrast, corresponds with more redistributive government policies and a more equal (albeit still unequal) pattern of income distribution after this time. As one indicator of government commitment to delivering benefits to less-advantaged groups, Crone notes that government spending on social programs—health, social spending, and housing or communities—was highest in Malaysia and lowest in the Philippines, with Thailand in between.135 The indicators in table 2 largely confirm Crone’s argument about the distributional consequences of ruling political coalitions in other Southeast Asian countries. These Southeast Asian countries are much less equal than their Northeast Asian high-growth counterparts, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. However, some of them (Indonesia on expenditure-based measures, Malaysia in the 1990s, and Thailand in the last decade) have inequality scores that put them in the middle range. Frederick Deyo’s observation regarding relative equality in South Korea and Taiwan may be relevant here. He observes that income equality “reflects not so much an equitable sharing in the fruits of growth as, rather, very high levels of labor extraction among low-income workers and families.” In addition to long working hours, this included “rapid entry of secondary household earners, especially young women from low-income families, into low-wage jobs. Thus Asian household income equality partially reflects only intensified labor outlays among poor families.”136 Given the massive mobilization of young female workers to supply the labor for Southeast Asia’s export-oriented manufacturing sector, this kind of intensification has occurred.137 The household income gains are nonetheless real. What is striking, however, is how modest they have been in comparison with aggregate rates of growth.

135.  Crone 1993, 63. 136.  Deyo 1989, 98. 137.  Suehiro 2008, 267–270.

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Table 2  Distribution and equity Income or expenditure share

Gini coefficient

Government health spending

Upper estimates

Lower estimates

% GDP or GNP

1964–65

0.39

0.35/0.33

0.3 (1960)

1970–71

0.35

0.35/0.31

Top 20%

Lowest 20%

% govt. spending

Indonesia

1976

0.49

0.34/0.32

1977–80

49.4

6.6

0.51

0.38/0.35

0.6

2.9

1984–87

0.42

0.37/0.32

0.7

3.1

1989–93

43.5

8.2

0.43

0.34/0.31

0.7

2.0

1996

42.3

8.7

0.40

0.34

1.1/0.4

6.0

2002–05

43.3

8.4/7.1

0.39

0.36/0.37

1.0

1.9

0.45

0.41

1.1 (1960)

Malaysia 1957–58

49.6

1970–72

56.6

1976–79

61.9

1986–88

51.2

4.6

0.44

1.8

4.9

1995–97

54.3

4.4

0.49

1.3

5.6

6.4

0.38

2.2

0.48

0.4 (1960)

2004–06

3.3

0.51 0.55

6.8 0.49

6.4

Philippines 1956

54.8

1965–66 1971–72

0.49 53.9

3.7

1975–78 1983–85

58.5 50.6

0.48

0.55

0.52

3.0 4.3

0.45

1989–90 2003–04

0.49

5.4

5.0

0.43

1.0

4.1

0.44

1.4

1.6

Singapore 1966

0.50

1972–73

0.44

1975

0.50

1979 1982–84

5.1

49.0

5.0

2004–05

1.0 (1960) 6.7

0.42 48.9

1989–90 1994–98

0.46

1.3

9.6

0.47

0.42

1.4

6.2

0.44

0.39

1.1

4.7

0.45

0.42

1.2

7.3

0.52

1.3

5.8

0.41

0.4 (1960)

Thailand 1962

57.5

1971–72

0.43

3.6

1975–78

49.8

4.6

0.42

0.37

1984–86

55.6

3.9

0.50

0.47

4.4 1.0

5.4

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Income or expenditure share

Gini coefficient

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Government health spending

Top 20%

Lowest 20%

Upper estimates

Lower estimates

% GDP or GNP

% govt. spending

1990–92

59.0

6.3

0.54

0.46

1.1

6.8

2002–04

49.0

6.3

0.42

2.3

8.5

44.3

9.0

0.34

1.5

6.8

Vietnam 2004–06

Note: Measures of inequality should be treated with caution. Measures and calculation methods differ (even within a country) and many data series are incomplete. Some inequality estimates are based on income; some are based on surveyed expenditure. Income-based estimates suggest significantly more unequal distributions, as reflected in the upper and lower estimates for Indonesia. Sources: ADB 2009; IMF, Government Finance Statistics, various years; World Bank, World Development Report, various years; UNDP, Human Development Report, various years; Department of Statistics 2006; Fields 1994, 402; Mizoguchi 1985, 311; Mukhopadhaya 2003, 66; Oshima 1994, 239; Leeuwen and Foldvari 2009, table 1; Crone 1993, 57, 63; van der Eng 2009; Cameron 2002, 3, 12; Warr 1998, 62; Yoneda 1985, 415.

The argument that elite-oriented politics in the Philippines has seen an entrenched oligarchy capture the gains of growth resonates widely. As Crone has shown, a narrow political coalition led not only to an entrenched elite but also to a large marginalized population—irrespective of aggregate economic growth rates. Thus, even when the Philippines recorded relatively high annual growth rates, poverty rates remained persistently high.138 The proportion of the population considered to be in poverty in 1970 was 45 percent and increased to 52 percent in 1975 and 54 percent by 1990. The Philippines also became more unequal, as shown in table 2. Higher average growth rates since the 1990s coincided with a period of liberalizing reforms but also with an increase in remittances from Filipinos who have left to work abroad. Remittances amounted to 7.2 percent of GDP in 1995 and 13.7 percent in 2005.139 This period has seen a reduction in poverty: the proportion classified as poor in the sense of living on less than $2 per day in PPP terms was 53 percent in 1994 and 45 percent in 2009. The slum population stood at 55 percent of the total urban population in 1990 and 44 percent in 2005. Based on the Gini measure of income inequality, the Philippines has followed a trend of high and rising inequality from the 1950s to the 1980s, followed by a modest decrease in inequality thereafter. The political coalition behind powerholders in Thailand broadened in the 1980s to give greater voice to private business groups but not labor or the rural 138.  Per capita average growth rates in GNP were 6.6% in the 1950s, 5.1% in the 1960s, 6.2% in the 1970s and 0.1% in the 1980s. Crone 1993, 57. 139.  ADB 2009.

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population. A strong distributional bias can be seen in distortions in agriculture, including a variable export tax on rice and policies to stabilize rice prices at a low level, which supported the government’s moves to channel resources to “a relatively small number of private entrepreneurs” in banking and industry.140 Agriculture—the mainstay of over 50 percent of the population—“traditionally suffered from government policies that transferred funds to the urban sector” and “invested less and less in agricultural infrastructure and technology.”141 One analysis of the poverty data—intended to disprove claims that growth did not benefit the poor—has shown that poverty rates in Thailand dropped only when economic growth was above 6 percent per year.142 While this shows that the number of poor dropped when economic growth was high, it also suggests that the distributional gains have been markedly skewed, given that growth at less than 6 percent failed to make a dent in poverty. It is also worth recalling the very low poverty line employed by the Thai statistical office. In 1999, it was about 75 U.S. cents a day, less than a quarter of the official minimum wage.143 This translates into about a quarter of average monthly income.144 Inequality in Thailand as captured by the Gini coefficient has been relatively high and increased until the 1990s.145 Although the Gini coefficient has since fallen, several indicators in addition to those in table 2 point to significant pools of relative marginalization. Thailand’s slum population was one of the very few in Asia to increase in recent years, from 19.5 percent of total urban population in 1990 to 26 percent in 2005.146 Real wages in the rapidly growing manufacturing sector increased only minimally until rising sharply in the 1990s. Even then, about 40 percent of companies in the 1990s did not pay official minimum wages, and the workforce had a very high rate of casual and short-term contract employees who were largely excluded from the limited protections of Thai employment law.147 In addition, while wages and conditions for Thai workers improved in the 1990s, the same cannot be said of the labor force as a whole. By the 1990s, Thailand was host to more than a million legal and illegal foreign workers, who were disadvantaged by Thai labor law, vulnerable to predatory employment practices, and often paid less than half the official minimum wage.148

140.  Rock 2000, 187. 141.  Doner 2009, 39. 142.  Warr 1998, 62. 143.  Deolalikar 2002, 3. 144.  National Statistical Office (Thailand), “Table 1: Average Monthly Income and Expenditure of Household.” Available at http://web.nso.go.th/survey/house_seco/soctab1.htm. 145.  While sources vary, most agree that Thailand has experienced high levels of inequality. See, e.g., Doner 2009, 38. 146.  ADB 2009. 147.  Hewison and Chiu 2009, 10; Suehiro 2008, 271; Warr 1998, 57. 148.  Arnold and Hewison 2005; Suehiro 2008, 272.

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Distributional trends in Malaysia follow a slightly different pattern. On independence, Malaysia had an unequal income distribution structure that became more unequal over time until the 1980s, as shown in table 2. During the early period of manufacturing growth, real wages in the manufacturing sector declined over the decade to 1973, which a leading Malaysian economist attributes to the demands of manufacturing for export in the context of a political regime that systematically disadvantaged labor.149 Despite high rates of real per capita GNP growth (averaging 4.1 percent in the 1950s and 6.5 percent in the 1960s), 49 percent of the population was still officially poor in 1970. A turning point was the political crisis of 1969 and the shift in the political coalition behind the ruling alliance that resulted from it. As Crone has argued, this provided the capacity and impetus for redistribution. By 1990, income distribution had become somewhat less unequal. This may have had much to do with the differential consequences of recession in the mid-1980s, given that the greatest decline in inequality occurred from 1984 to 1987.150 It is also the case that Malaysia’s social spending increased after 1970; by Southeast Asian standards, its government has shown a relatively high commitment to redistributive social spending, albeit with an ethnic bias.151 Official poverty figures show a steep decline from nearly half the population in peninsular Malaysia in 1970 to 15 percent in 1990, and the government now claims to have eradicated severe poverty. However, a distributional twist is also evident, in that poverty has been consistently much higher in the resourcerich states of Sabah and Sarawak, where poverty in 1990 was at 34 percent and 21 percent, respectively—despite petroleum and timber contributing the most to Malaysia’s export earnings in the 1980s.152 The ability of local elites connected to the ruling party to capture antipoverty programs has been shown in studies at the micro level. Local sources also contest the government’s poverty line, pointing out that it was not enough to live on with dignity.153 The World Bank’s $2 per day in PPP terms, by which measure nearly 8 percent of the population was poor in 2004, is even more inadequate.154 Given the country’s relative prosperity, it points to a significant level of marginalization. Singapore has been the poster child for arguments about shared growth. Although Singapore has deliberately avoided conventional welfare programs, it made a large early commitment to spending on public housing, although arguably

149.  Jomo 1986, 227–229. 150.  Jomo and Gomez 1997, 170. 151.  Crone 1993. 152.  Jomo and Gomez 1997, 167, 171. 153.  Devaraj 2004; Shamsul 1983. 154.  Two dollars a day was less than 7% of Malaysia’s per capita GDP in PPP terms. For a critique of the global poverty standard at either $1 or $2 per day in PPP terms, see Pogge and Reddy 2005.

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for political control purposes.155 The public housing program was in fact deeply contested, with many of the “beneficiaries” of public housing attempting to resist their forcible relocation from traditional villages.156 Still, the argument that redistribution was an explicit goal receives at least mixed support until the end of the 1970s. On the one hand, high marginal tax rates and the mobilization of new entrants to the labor force saw the Gini measure of inequality (at least in one series) decline between 1966 and 1979. On the other hand, real wages did not increase for the first decade of full political independence, corresponding with the first decade of consolidated PAP rule. The wage index for manufacturing in 1966 remained unchanged by 1975, increasing only from the second half of the 1970s and, more robustly, in the 1980s.157 Wage trends were a consequence of the industrial relations regime imposed by the government, which switched from a commitment to keeping wages low to a “high-wage” policy in an effort to move toward higher-end manufacturing processes in the 1980s.158 However, inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient has increased markedly over the last thirty years. Singapore is now among the most inegalitarian “high human development” countries in the world, by a large margin.159 Another aspect of the Singaporean political economy with distributional implications is the enormous increase in both “permanent residents” (PRs) and the nonresident population since 1990. Between 1990 and 2009, the growth in the number of PRs and nonresidents was more than twice that of Singapore citizens, despite this category including many new citizens. From making up 86 percent of the population in 1990, Singapore citizens made up only 64 percent of the population in 2009.160 PRs and nonresidents now account for nearly 1.8 million out of a total population of nearly 5 million and compete with Singaporeans at all levels of the workforce. The majority, however, are low-wage temporary migrant workers who are denied even the minimal protections provided by the Employment Act. Both the regulatory framework set by the government and industry

155.  Chua 1997; Doner, Ritchie, and Slater 2005. 156.  Loh 2009. 157.  Deyo 1989, 93. 158.  Rodan 1989. 159.  After 2005, the Department of Statistics stopped publishing Gini scores and income data by decile on the basis of all resident households. Both the Gini and the income by decile data now refer only to “employed” resident households. The gap between the two methods of calculation is significant for the years in which both scores are available, with the difference being at least 50 basis points (Department of Statistics 2006). As in many countries, Gini scores are also compressed by including only income from work. In addition, Gini scores are calculated on the basis of per capita household income, with foreign domestic workers (of which a typical upper-income Singaporean household would employ at least one) counting as household members. 160.  As reported by the Singapore Department of Statistics in Population Trends 2009.

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practices mean that these workers are extremely vulnerable, with limited capacity to gain redress for unpaid wages or poor working conditions.161 While the government has justified the importation of migrant labor on the grounds of maintaining competitiveness and keeping prices low, the net effect has almost certainly been to depress wages for Singaporeans in lower-income bands. The effect on consumer prices, meanwhile, is probably limited. Aside from some service-related goods in industries with high foreign labor ratios (food stalls, domestic work, parts of the retail sector), Singaporeans pay world market prices for most of their consumption. In a cross-national survey of wages and prices, the purchasing power of average wages in Singapore was the lowest among highincome cities.162 Looking at household incomes from work for the whole resident population (that is, excluding foreign workers) in 2005, the average income for the bottom 20 percent of households was only a fifth of the national average household income and a third of the national median household income.163 With an average income of Singapore $1,180 per month, this section of the population is likely to find it difficult to meet basic needs for food, housing, health care, and transport. The bottom 30 percent of the population would count as poor in relative terms, in the sense of having household incomes less than half the average. Despite presiding over a high-income, high-growth economy, the Singapore government has been niggardly in its welfare coverage, and significant population segments are inadequately protected in terms of healthcare and retirement needs.164 Even The Economist magazine, hardly an ideological advocate of generous social welfare benefits, has called the government a “stingy nanny.”165 Although the Singapore government has, like most in Southeast Asia, staked its claim to legitimacy on the basis of economic growth and development, the benefits of the growth it has engineered have been distributed decidedly unequally.166 Identifying the beneficiaries of economic growth in Indonesia after the change of regime in 1966 is less the subject of a contentious debate than two disconnected discourses. In one, which dominates the policy mainstream, the New Order’s accomplishments in reducing poverty and maintaining the most egalitarian income structure in noncommunist Southeast Asia qualify it as solidly “pro-poor.”167 In another, the government is shown to be repressive and predatory, oriented to channeling economic benefits to its own ranks and those of its

161.  Human Rights Watch 2005; Yawning Bread 2009. 162.  UBS 2009. 163.  Department of Statistics 2006. 164.  Asher and Nandy 2005. 165.  13 February 2010. 166.  Alagappa 1995. 167.  For example, Timmer 2004.

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cronies in the big business sector at the expense of the poor, the rural population, and sections of the wage labor force.168 The gulf between the two camps arises partly because they focus on different things but also because the data from Indonesia are very inconsistent and sensitive to different measurement scales. If we turn first to the issue of absolute poverty on a national basis, almost all sources agree that there was a steady reduction in the percentage of the population classified as “poor” from the early 1970s until the financial crisis of 1997–98. By how much, however, varies according to source and estimation tool used. The government’s own poverty data put the poverty rate at 40 percent of the population in 1975, falling to 11 percent in 1996. After a revision in the official poverty line, the rate for 1996 was reestimated at 18 percent and rose to 23 percent in 1999, due to the crisis. On other measures, poverty was significantly higher, even before the crisis—25 percent of the population according to the UNDP’s human poverty index, 32 percent according to a “capability deprivation” measure of poverty.169 Even on the PPP $2 per day measure, different sources produce widely varying estimates.170 One reason for the different estimates is that official figures are very sensitive to slight adjustments in the poverty line, a consequence of more than half the population being clustered very close to the poverty line.171 Another is that the official poverty line is unrealistically low. To give just one example, the number of underweight children under the age of five (according to official data) has consistently been much higher than the proportion of the population under the official poverty line. In 1993, for example, 43 percent of under-fives were underweight, but the official poverty line put the poor at less than 14 percent of the population.172 Poverty is markedly higher in rural areas, particularly in areas furthest from the political center of Java and in provinces where resistance to the Jakarta government has been evident.173 This inequality is not captured by trends in the national Gini coefficient. When based on household expenditure surveys, national Gini scores show a relatively equal (by Southeast Asian standards)

168.  For example, Budiarjo 1986; Farid 2005. 169.  Dhanani and Islam 2002. 170.  For 1993, the Asian Development Bank (2009) put 84.6% of the population below the PPP2 dollars per day measure. Also for 1993 and also using the $2 per day poverty line, a technical reconstruction by two economists estimated 19.8% of the population to be poor. Van Leeuwen and Foldvari 2009. 171.  Thus in 2006 the World Bank noted that nearly 42% of the population live between the $1 and $2 per day poverty lines and that “vulnerability to falling into poverty is particularly high in Indonesia: while only 16.7 percent of Indonesians surveyed were poor in 2004, more than 59 percent had been poor at some time during the year preceding the survey.” World Bank 2006, xi. 172.  Dhanani and Islam 2002, 1214. 173.  Booth 2000; Dhanani and Islam 2002.

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distribution of national income, with a spike in inequality in the late 1970s and after 1990. The household expenditure surveys, however, systematically underestimate the wealth of upper-income groups. When the Gini is calculated on the basis of income, which is the case for most of the “upper estimates” given in table 2, the Gini coefficient is markedly higher. In 1976, for example, the expenditure data produce a coefficient of either 0.32 or 0.35 (depending on the source), but the labor force income data produce a coefficient of 0.49.174 The labor force survey itself underestimates disparities, since it excludes the large percentage of the population who are not in formal employment—that is, those with the lowest incomes. The distributional intentions of the New Order regime can also be assessed on the basis of its actions. Anthropologist Laura Ann Stoler shows that the consequences of the change of regime in 1966  in Sumatra’s plantation estates included higher levels of worker dispossession, reduced bargaining leverage, and increased economic hardship.175 An Indonesian scholar, Hilmar Farid, has drawn attention to how the change of regime and consequent repressive actions against alleged leftists included the use of forced labor for infrastructure works and on plantations—including on the American-owned estates that were seized by workers in 1965. He also notes that half a million hectares of agricultural land that had been redistributed in land reform of early 1960s was seized and that in Java alone the number of landless peasants increased fivefold between 1973 and 1980.176 Careful studies of wages have found evidence that structural factors (including the relative supply of labor) alone do not account for wage levels and trends but point to the downward pressure on wages exerted by the government.177 The New Order’s distributional intentions are also evident in its price and trade interventions, which by standard economic measures were regressive, transferring income from poorer to richer regions.178 The idea that Suharto’s government was fundamentally oriented to serving its own state elites and their cronies runs counter to the official development discourse espoused by the New Order and echoed by its foreign donors. The official “pro-poor” discourse has been contrasted in an anthropological study with the informal or vernacular discourse surrounding the regime’s development policies. Michael Dove and Daniel Kammen describe the government’s use of informal payments to “incentivize” local leaders to appropriate community

174.  Van der Eng 2009; Van Leeuwen and Foldvari 2009; Yoneda 1985. 175.  Stoler 1985. 176.  Farid 2005, 10–12. 177.  Winters 2000. 178.  Garcia 2000.

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resources for government projects while budgeting for incentive payments to officials involved in distributing government funds in order for any money to reach the intended beneficiaries. They observe, the implication is that “resourceflows are perceived to be fighting the people on their way in to the state and fighting the state on their way out,” a process documented with several examples of forced appropriations from the rural poor in the name of development.179 Forced displacement of the poor was a feature of the New Order’s policy on land ownership and use, which has been described as “reverse land reform.”180 The New Order’s developmental record is also significantly tarnished if one takes the massive scale of resource depletion and pollution into account. Indonesia’s natural resources have been extensively depleted since 1966, when resource extraction in the minerals and timber sectors escalated on the basis of lucrative franchises allocated to American and Japanese investors, who formed partnerships with privileged local actors in, or related to, the government.181 The fortunes made in the timber and resource sectors have been extravagant, and nearly half of the forty richest Indonesians made their money in the resource sector or the tobacco industry.182 Government concessions and forbearance on illegal logging, illegal exports, and violations of fire restrictions have secured fortunes for the privileged. While there are valid public reasons for resource extraction, resource rents have not been distributed broadly. The World Bank estimated the public revenue loss due to illegal logging at $600 million annually.183 Studies at the local level confirm that the costs of resource extraction—pollution from mines and pulp mills, loss of livelihood in forest products and fisheries, loss of land, and health costs from fires used to convert peat lands into timber and palm oil plantations—are concentrated in poor communities.184 A recalculation of Indonesia’s national income accounts that combines an analysis of resource depletion with an analysis of income distribution (on the grounds that the marginal utility of an extra dollar of income declines at upper-income levels) shows that real GDP growth was markedly lower than the headline amount conventionally reported.185

179.  Dove and Kammen 2001, 620. 180.  Lucas and Warren 2003, 95. 181.  Dauvergne 1997, 63–82; Leith 2003. 182.  As reported in Forbes Magazine, 2 December 2009. 183.  Cited in CIFOR 2006. 184.  Colfer and Resosudarmo 2002; Kunanayagam and Young 1998; Lucas 1998; Lucas and Warren 2003. 185.  Torras 1999. The study was based on an independent calculation of “depletion-adjusted” GDP from 1971 to 1984, which reduced the headline rate of average annual GDP growth from 7.1% to 4%. Working with official distribution figures (which showed increasing equality in these years) and modeling a range of normative assumptions about the welfare weights to be accorded different income groups and positive estimates regarding the distribution of resource losses, the recalculated

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The Political Economy of Alignment Ruling elites, as noted decades ago by historian E. H. Carr, tend to claim that the capitalist system that benefits them also benefits society in general.186 They are not always wrong, but the evidence presented here shows that the distribution of benefits has been highly skewed in their favor. The economic benefits from participation in an expanding regional and global economy under U.S. hegemony have been concentrated in the hands of state elites and their key political constituencies, mainly owners of large private firms and the middle class, a group that remains a minority. The eclipse of the political left by the mid-1960s produced a pattern of income distribution that disproportionately benefited the political victors. The winners who emerged from political struggles between the 1940s and the 1960s enjoyed American support because they pursued policies that were broadly in line with American preferences for capitalist development in the region. This alignment of material interest and ideological vision has underpinned acceptance of American hegemony and is the condition for continued support for U.S. “engagement” and “balancing” in the region. The conditional nature of this orientation is evident when shifts have occurred in American capacity or willingness to offer political support and distribute economic largesse. At moments when the United States has pressed for changes that threatened regime interests, it has been met with obstruction, resentment, and threats to look elsewhere for external patronage. Thus, in the 1990s, when the United States temporarily became more critical of authoritarianism and human rights violations, Singapore and Malaysia retaliated with talk of “Asian values.”187 When the United States was perceived to have blocked bailouts for the crisis-hit countries in 1997–98, abandoning long-term allies such as Indonesia’s Suharto, resentment and a sense of betrayal spurred moves to develop more effective regional institutions that would be independent of the United States.188 More often, the pattern has been one of forbearance and mutual accommodation. Ruling elites have managed to deflect many of the more intrusive American demands for economic liberalization and reform, both through selective implementation and negotiating “pockets of protection.”189 Probably the most striking example of elite capture of American-supported liberalization was the region’s experience

GDP growth rate ranged from 0% to 5.5% (on the unlikely scenario that the poor gained most from resource depletion). 186.  Nesadurai 2004 relates Carr’s observation to the political economies of Southeast Asian states. 187.  Chong 2004; Robison 1996. 188.  Higgott 1998. 189.  Ravenhill 2003; Walter 2008.

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of financial reform in the late 1980s. The United States pressed both bilaterally and multilaterally for extensive financial deregulation.190 Governments in Southeast Asia did not have to be pressed very hard: until the financial crisis, financial deregulation served them well and did not involve alienating privileged domestic interests, who reaped generous profits from the region’s finance-led economic boom.191 The American return to forbearance on economic and human rights issues after 2001 allowed for the strengthening of bilateral relations under the presidency of George W. Bush, despite the unpopularity of American policy with mass publics at this time.192 After experiencing its own financial crisis in 2008, the United States looked much less able to sustain its role as the consumer market that has underwritten Asia’s export-led growth. Restructuring Asian economies toward lower savings and higher domestic consumption involves surmounting a political obstacle, in the form of entrenched exporting interests who rely on low labor costs and protected interests in the nontradables sector, whose privilege is made possible by effective cross-subsidies from the export sector.193 If the United States is unable or unwilling to continue to play the role of benefactor, we can expect calls for a reorientation toward China to resound more widely.194 For the last sixty years, however, U.S. predominance has served Southeast Asian ruling elites and their allies well. This legacy not only is inscribed in the structures of domestic political control and wealth creation, it also involves considerable sunk intellectual capital in the status quo, as discussed in the following chapters. The counterfactual history of what would have happened had the domestic contests that preceded the region’s alignment with the United States turned out differently is not explored here. Less than ten years after the bloodbath that surrounded the transition to military-backed rule in Indonesia, the regime’s foreign defenders could argue that the alternative would have been much worse for the poor, even if it did look like the elite was benefiting disproportionately.195 It can equally be argued that an Indonesia free of American interference in the form of subversion and explicit support for a military takeover would have been less

190.  Wade 2001. 191.  Hamilton-Hart 2002; Robison et al. 2000. 192.  Hadiz ed. 2006. 193.  On the political economy of export surpluses in China, see Hung 2009. A similar argument can be made for Southeast Asia, with the difference that foreign ownership has predominated in export manufacturing (but not for exports of natural resources, where domestic players have been guaranteed franchises, often in partnership with foreign investors). Sustaining the privileges of domestic groups in the nontradables sector, however, has depended on maintaining the foreigninvested export sector. Jesudason 1989; Ritchie 2005. 194.  Mahbubani 2008; Ross 2006. 195.  Arndt 1975.

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disastrously positioned in the mid-1960s.196 Would Singapore have sunk into poverty and chaos under the leadership of leftists such as Lim Chin Siong and middle-of-the-road politicians such as David Marshall? The answer is unknowable, but the judgment of a former leftist who spent nineteen years as a political detainee has as much plausibility as the disaster scenario: the country would have had slower economic growth but there would have been more welfare for the people.197 Despite these uncertainties, we can be confident that a different distribution of domestic political power would have produced a different regional orientation toward the United States. Defeated groups held markedly less positive attitudes toward the United States and, as the Cold War developed, strongly criticized it. American hostility, if nothing else, ensured this. Leftist groups were the target of American containment efforts, as the United States saw them as representing actual or potential losses to a Soviet Union–led communist bloc. U.S. intolerance of neutralism also meant that even noncommunist groups who wished to remain nonaligned found that this position would make relations with the United States difficult. Had these groups achieved—or maintained—positions of power, the region’s orientation toward the United States would have been very different, and different historical legacies would have been laid down. The origins of alignment with the United States in the noncommunist Southeast Asian states are thus solidly domestic, based on the political defeat of leftist and neutralist forces in each country. As discussed in the next chapter, however, officially enshrined memories of these historical struggles represent the past in very different ways.

196.  Kahin and Kahin 1995; Simpson 2008. 197.  Lim Hock Siew, as reported in the Straits Times, 19 February 2010.

4 History Lessons “It is the purpose of this book to make the past reusable for present tasks and future goals.” —Renato Constantino, The Philippines: A Past Revisited

“We do not write history to make history, but to participate in the foundation of the new regime.” —Van Tao, director, Institute of Historical Studies, Vietnam, quoted in Nguyen 1995, 122.

The lessons of history are rarely straightforward. History in the hands of policymakers is frequently misread, and historical analogies are often wrongly applied.1 Yet policymakers in Southeast Asia, like their counterparts elsewhere, exhibit great confidence in their own reading of history and the lessons to be drawn from it. In official documents, public statements, and private conversation, “history” is identified again and again as the reason for a given policy orientation and the beliefs that underpin it. For America’s longstanding friends and allies in the region, the most frequent justification for viewing the country as a benign, stabilizing force is its historical record. In Vietnam, where such a claim would meet unavoidable obstacles, those in favor of closer strategic relations with the United States choose a different historical narrative to justify the realignment: the much longer history of a Chinese threat to Vietnam. In all countries, policymakers, practitioners, and other members of the foreign policy community turn to history to justify the perceptions of threat and relative degrees of trustworthiness affixed to the United States, China, and neighboring countries. History seeps into the strategic environment at almost every conceivable juncture. We must ask, however, what kind of history is learnt in different countries in Southeast Asia, and why some lessons rather than others are drawn from it. As we shall see, the histories that inform current beliefs and attitudes have been fashioned

1.  Jervis 1976, 217–282; Khong 1995; Neustadt and May 1986; Tetlock and Belkin 1996. 88

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in quite specific ways and, although far from being driven by concerns relating to the United States, have clear implications for beliefs about the United States. How much policymakers actually believe the versions of history they espouse is not directly verifiable. Few have been as frank as Winston Churchill is said to have been in acknowledging the inevitable biases surrounding the production of history.2 Political leaders almost never lay out the historical controversies surrounding their rise to power, the mythic elements of many national histories, or the allegations of outright distortion that dog the field of national history in each country. Instead, the versions of history espoused by members of the foreign policy community and enshrined in official or quasi-official texts tend to be unified, admit few if any uncertainties, and largely shy away from addressing competing points of view. It is tempting to view national histories simply as blunt instruments in the policymaker’s toolkit. However, what was once created to serve instrumental goals can acquire the status of objective knowledge. Policymakers, like others, must get their historical knowledge from somewhere. This chapter examines the versions of history that enjoy status in each country: official accounts, school textbooks, and histories that have received political blessing. These sources provide the material from which members of the foreign policy community draw historical lessons about the United States and its role in the region. The unifying thread that runs through these histories is a bias in favor of the ruling authority or dominant political elite in each country. Only in the Philippines and Thailand is this bias significantly challenged within the mainstream. Given the direct hand that political leaders and acolytes have had in writing many of these histories, this is hardly surprising. Although painting their own actions in a favorable light is the most obvious source of bias, the resulting national histories also paint a refracted picture of the United States: by commission, by omission, and by implication. Three aspects of national history bear on beliefs about the United States. The first, for the noncommunist countries, is the specter of communism in past domestic conflicts. By offering a history from the perspective of the winners in these conflicts, the losing side is tarred as communist and presented as illegitimate. The second, more prominent in some countries than others, is the depiction of external threats that either present the United States as a protective presence or downplay an American threat by giving more attention to other external threats. The third aspect of these national histories relevant for understanding beliefs about the United States is their scant attention to the human casualties of past conflicts. 2.  Winston Churchill is often credited with the quip, “History will be kind to me. I intend to write it.”

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Visions of Communism In the countries where the political exclusion of the left since the mid-1960s has been most complete—Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia—the threat posed by domestic communist movements and those classed as fellow travelers is presented in the starkest terms: communists had no political agenda other than destruction, they were treasonous, and—in Malaysia and Indonesia—they were ungodly. Even in the case of a communist party that operated legally, as in Indonesia, or communists who allegedly worked through legal political parties and trade unions, as in Singapore and Malaysia, mainstream accounts never represent the left as a legitimate political force and give no serious attention to leftist goals or aspirations. In the other noncommunist countries, Thailand and the Philippines, mainstream history is now more pluralistic and presents a more mixed, and generally muted, view of domestic communists and leftists. Filipino interviewees were by far the least likely to raise the issue of a communist threat to their country—even though the Philippines is the only country with an active communist insurgency since the 1970s.

Singapore The mainstream Singapore historical narrative unequivocally valorizes those who emerged on the winning side of political conflicts in the 1950s and 1960s. As the dominant political figure in Singapore for more than fifty years, first as prime minister (1959–90) and then as a cabinet member with special status, Lee Kuan Yew’s views have been particularly influential. His account of the period before 1965, when he and his faction defeated their opponents and cemented their grip on power, labels rivals and leftist groups as “the communists” or “procommunists” and accords them no grievances and no legitimacy. Even their potentially good qualities, such as winning support through personal dedication and frugal living, are “an ostentatious display of self-sacrifice” and “a competitive display of selflessness”—quickly followed by outright denigration of their morality, with the claim that “in the back rooms of Middle Road [where many unions had their headquarters], supposedly revolutionary young women gave themselves up to illicit love, only too happy to have such star performers as Lim [Chin Siong] and Fong [Swee Suan] as their partners. The less attractive girls settled for the branch leaders of the various unions.”3 Communism is presented as a disease and communists as vermin, able to win support by crowd-pleasing, intimidation, and

3.  Lee 1998, 254–255.

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playing to “Chinese chauvinism.”4 When they are not bumbling, “the communists” are presented as ruthless; fighting them was a matter of “life and death.”5 In a chapter titled “The Communists Self-Destruct,” Lee attributes the defeat of the left to the personal weaknesses of leaders such as Lim Chin Siong.6 All opponents with any left-wing orientation—the remnants of the independent trade unions, the breakaway left wing of the PAP, and student groups—are either communist or part of the “communist united front.” Even after these groups had been completely neutralized by mass arrests, restrictive legislation, and complete PAP electoral dominance, “communists” continued to have a “lurking presence in the underground,” ready at any time to “revert to violence and terror.”7 In the 1980s, the threat of a potentially disastrous communist comeback was still being used as a justification for the detention of “pro-Marxist activists.”8 Indeed, Lee implies that the communist party could still potentially win over “Singapore’s Chinese base” as late as 1990.9 Lee’s version of history—laid down well before the publication of his twovolume memoir—forms the essential backdrop for the production and consumption of national history in Singapore. This version of the past was first set down by Singapore’s former foreign minister, S. Rajaratnam, whose 1964 account of the ruling party’s first ten years presents opponents of the English-educated Lee Kuan Yew wing of the PAP as undifferentiated communists, procommunists, and “crackpot adventurers of the left.”10 Rajaratnam’s speeches over the following years repeated the same mantra of a communist threat, with all opponents and critics dubbed either subversives or foolish dupes.11 Rajaratnam is likely to have had an impact on the foreign policy community’s perceptions of the past beyond his status as the author of a “classic” historical text. He was the country’s first foreign minister from 1965 until 1980 (and continued his involvement in foreign affairs as deputy prime minister from 1980 to 1985) and has been enshrined as Singapore’s leading foreign policy thinker after Lee Kuan Yew.12

  4.  Lee 1998, 376, 360.   5.  Lee 1998, 355.   6.  Lee 2000.   7.  Lee 2000, 134.   8.  Lee 2000, 137.   9.  Lee 2000, 141. 10.  Reproduced in Chan and ul Haq 2007, 24. 11.  Chan and ul Haq 2007, 69, 91, 147. 12.  An academic institution-cum-government think tank, the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, bears his name. He is extolled in a lengthy biography by a ruling-party MP (Ng 2010) and was the subject of official accolades on his death in 2006. The epilogue to a republished volume of his speeches (first published in 1987) describes him as having “an assured and honoured place in the Pantheon of national heroes of Singapore.” Chan and ul Haq 2006, 540. One of the coeditors is Chan

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More than thirty years after Rajaratnam’s account was written, “the understanding of the period has not moved one iota from Rajaratnam’s rendition of it,” as Hong Lysa and Huang Jianli have written.13 The government’s direct hand in the construction of national history and its political motives for doing so have been recounted in several studies.14 Textbooks used to teach the national history curriculum reproduce a view of the past dichotomized between a communist menace and the triumphant ruling party. The Ministry of Education made a particular effort to revamp the curriculum starting in 1996, motivated by the stated desire of senior ruling party politicians to instill the “correct” version of the struggles of the 1960s in the next generation.15 A comparative study of the old textbook used for much of the 1980s and early 1990s with a later edition shows that both versions present a history of a beneficent PAP and a menacing communist threat.16 Establishment histories continue to serve up reminders of the communist threat. One example is the lengthy history of nation-building in Singapore written by a long-serving (but since retired) historian at the National University of Singapore. The book presents the defeat of the left by Lee Kuan Yew’s PAP as a triumph of democracy, apparently achieved without coercion, intimidation, or instrumental detention of political opponents.17 Another recent example is a history of the period written by a senior academic and university administrator, which describes the Lee Kuan Yew faction of the PAP as made up of “moderates” while their opponents are interchangeably dubbed “communist,” “pro-communist,” “radical,” “militant,” and “chauvinist.” Those so labeled are not given their own voice (two perfunctory references aside) and their actions and motivations are depicted using the language—and very often the words—of Lee Kuan Yew and other PAP leaders. The book presents “Operation Cold Store” in 1963—the mass arrests of opponents of the PAP (or “communist sympathizers”)—as something that Malaysia’s prime minister “exacted from Singapore” in order to “pre-empt communist front organizations from linking up with conspirators.”18

Heng Chee, a former political scientist at the National University of Singapore who was appointed ambassador to the U.S. in 1996 and remained in the position as of 2010. 13.  Hong and Huang 2008, 49–50. For example, Bloodworth 2005. 14.  Barr and Skrbis; 2008; Hong and Huang 2008; Loh 1996. 15.  Hong and Huang 2008, 20. 16.  Yang 2010. 17.  Lee 2008. Those arrested and imprisoned are dismissed as communist subversives, not legitimate political contenders. See also Barr 2009. 18.  Tan 2008, 193. Another Singaporean historian, widely cited as the author of a text on Singapore’s separation from Malaysia, adopts the same practice of relating history through the unscrutinized words of PAP leaders. See Lau 2005, 2008. In fact, British records show that Lee Kuan Yew urged the joint Internal Security Council to authorize the arrests—and presented a much longer list

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The image of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM, sometimes referred to as the MCP or Malayan Communist Party) as a wholly illegitimate threat has been kept alive in a recent study of the British counterinsurgency campaign by a Singaporean academic with close ties to the security establishment.19 In it, the CPM is an evil caricature, its leaders so lacking in morals, intelligence, and capacity that the book’s main purpose—to extol the later stages of the British campaign— appears rather redundant. The author went on to edit a volume of old issues of the CPM newsletter as exhibits of communist propaganda, in cooperation with Singapore’s Internal Security Department.20 In 2009, the Chronicle of Singapore was jointly published by the National Library Board, with Peter Lim, the former editor-in-chief of the government-controlled Straits Times newspaper, as its chief editor. He was reported as saying that the book “pulls together news reports written in the thick of action. . . . In this sense, it is as objective as reports can get.”21 Plenty of items remind readers of the menace of communism: planned communist bombings, repentant former communists, and communists operating through front organizations such as student groups. Strikes and disturbances are described as “communist-inspired” or incited by left-wing politicians. By the 1970s, communists were said (by the home minister in one report from 1975) to be “turning to drugs” after “failing to capture power by violent means” in a strategy that involved “using narcotics to corrupt and soften the populations of various Southeast Asian states for subversion.”22 For older members of the foreign policy community, these were the headlines served up regularly in the press, and in that sense they can be seen as part of readily available knowledge. The demonization of the defeated left in establishment history (often termed the “Singapore Story”) is increasingly contested, although there has been no official rewriting of history.23 Revisionist histories argue that there is almost no evidence on which to consider Lim Chin Siong and other political opponents of the Lee Kuan Yew faction of the PAP as communist in any meaningful sense. Despite the political pressures on the security services at the time to prove charges of communism, a historian’s conclusion on scrutinizing available British documents of the 1950s and 1960s runs: “Lim’s individual actions are often lost in speculative generalizations . . . whilst descriptions of the Singapore left’s

of opponents he wished to have detained under the Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial. Harper 2001; Wade 2010. 19.  Ramakrishna 2002. 20.  Ramakrishna 2008. 21.  Quoted in My Paper (Singapore), 3 November 2009. 22.  Lim 2009, 48–51, 137. 23.  Hong and Huang 2008, 20–21. See also Barr and Trocki 2008. Perhaps the earliest scholarly revisionist statement is Loh 1996.

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complicity with the Communist ‘underground’ abound, hard evidence is hard to find.”24 Revisionist histories also argue that claims of association with “communist front” groups fail to capture the actions or aspirations of the left-wing politicians and activists arrested in successive crackdowns.25 The CPM itself, seriously hampered by penetration by Special Branch agents, arrests, and a lack of control over its “front organizations,” never considered a communist Singapore viable and ended operations in Singapore by the end of the 1950s.26 Several societal initiatives have begun to reclaim history from the perspective of those detained both in the 1960s and in later crackdowns. In 2001 a volume commemorating the life and political contributions of Lim Chin Siong was published, with sympathetic contributions from co-detainees and supporters.27 In the same year, a long-term political detainee wrote an autobiographical account of his detention, which forcefully proclaims the injustices of his seventeen-yearlong imprisonment.28 Other attempts to scrutinize establishment history have met political obstacles. When, in 2009, an activist attempted to hold a public forum on the arrests of alleged “Marxist conspirators” in 1987, the owners of the proposed venue were reported to be under police investigation.29 A year later, one of those arrested in 1987 was scheduled to speak at another event, but the orga­nizers were required to drop him from the program. When Singaporean filmmaker Martyn See produced a documentary on the life of a former political detainee, it was banned on the grounds that “the film gives a distorted and misleading portrayal of Said Zahari’s arrest and detention under the Internal Security Act . . . and is an attempt to exculpate himself from his past involvement with communist united front activities against the interests of Singapore. . . . The Government will not allow people who had posed a security threat to the country in the past, to exploit the use of films to purvey a false and distorted portrayal of their past actions and detention by the Government.”30 Similarly, when a newspaper gave unprecedentedly sympathetic coverage to a former detainee in an extended interview with Lim Hock Siew in 2010, the report carried the comment from the Ministry of Home Affairs that “Dr. Lim was in fact a prominent Communist United

24.  Harper 2001, 21. See also Wade 2010. 25.  Barr and Trocki 2008; Weiss 2009, 2011. 26.  Chin P. 2003; C. C. Chin 2008. 27.  Tan and Jomo 2001. 28.  Said 2001, 2007. 29.  This and other events related to revisiting Singapore’s modern history were widely discussed online, on websites such as filmmaker Martyn See’s blog (http://singaporerebel.blogspot.com) and The Online Citizen (http://theonlinecitizen.com) and Temasek Review (http://www.temasekreview. com). 30.  Press release, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Singapore, 10 April 2007. The film, Zahari’s 17 Years, is widely available online.

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Front leader who, along with other CUF leaders, had planned and organised procommunist activities in support of the Communist Party of Malaya, which employed terror and violence in their attempt to overthrow the elected governments of Singapore and Malaysia.”31 As the government response to these initiatives attests, one historical narrative is clearly dominant. Nearly all members of the foreign policy community in Singapore interviewed for this project maintained that there had been a real communist threat to Singapore.32 Several referred to family members or former colleagues who had played roles in the security and defense establishment as the source of their knowledge or maintained it was simply “common knowledge.” When asked how he had arrived at the view that the communist threat had been real, one former senior diplomat pointed indirectly to the social and political foundations of his belief, musing that “maybe the government was so brilliant they were able to indoctrinate us with fear of what communism would be like.” He concluded, however, that he had to accept that  “Singapore’s history is what the PAP wants it to be.”33

Malaysia As with the left in Singapore, the CPM is consistently demonized in mainstream Malaysian sources. The CPM engaged in guerrilla warfare after being banned from participation in politics by the British in 1948. Officially, the Malayan Emergency lasted until 1960, but the insurgency continued at a low level until the 1980s. The memory of the insurgency is very much alive in foreign policy circles. As noted by a Malaysian foreign policy academic, “The strongest ideological compulsion driving [Malaysia’s] domestic and foreign policies derives from the bitter experience with the communist insurgency from 1948 until 1960.”34 Official speeches in the post-2001 period have drawn on Malaysia’s defeat of “communist terrorists” during the Emergency to criticize the American-led war on terror, pointing to the need for a “hearts and minds” approach that would address grievances.35 No such legitimacy is accorded the CPM itself, which official accounts depict as savage and—particularly salient given the centrality of racialized politics in 31.  Straits Times, 19 February 2010. In 2010 the government directed Martyn See, the maker of a videorecording of a speech by Lim Hock Siew, to remove it from a video-sharing website. 32.  Summary details of the interviewees are given in the appendix. 33.  Interview 48. The one interviewee who expressly denied a sense of a past communist threat was much younger than most of the interview set, noting that “personally, I did not grow up with a sense of a threat of communism. . . . There was no Singapore history when I was at school in the 1980s.” Interview 50. 34.  Nathan 1998, 515. 35.  Abdullah 2006.

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Malaysia—chauvinistically Chinese. This perspective has hardly changed in the sixty years since it was laid down by the colonial authorities and the political elite that negotiated independence. The emotive anticommunist propaganda issued by the British in the 1950s, coupled with bans on leftist texts and the detention of left-wing nationalists, created what a later historian described as the “intellectually arid atmosphere that existed during the Malayan Emergency.” This inhibited any rewriting of Malaysian history that would deviate from the syllabus created by colonial officials and scholars, which was still in use in the early postindependence years.36 Although historical research became more pluralistic later, mainstream versions did not revise the portrayal of the CPM.37 The government’s continuing vilification of the CPM after the end of the Emergency ensured a static view of the movement. In the 1960s, government reports reminded the population of “sinister developments” in the communist movement and its “Path of Violence to Absolute Power”—and warned of communist infiltration of trade unions, schools, and universities and instigation of labor unrest.38 The government-controlled press kept up a flow of reports on “communist terrorists” and “reds.”39 For example, in 1974, Mahathir Mohamad (minister of education at the time) claimed that students organizing antigovernment demonstrations “supposedly to champion the cause of the poor” were carrying out activities “similar to those of the Communist terrorists.”40 Also in the 1970s, the University of Malaya republished a colonial-era study of the insurgency, originally published in New York in 1954.41 The new edition carries a postscript that warns of the ongoing communist threat and the need for “constant vigilance,” while the main text testifies to Cold War perceptions of monolithic international communism and undifferentiated “Red labor” organizations. It remains quite widely (and, in general, uncritically) cited by Malaysian scholars. For senior diplomats and members of the foreign policy community, such officially sanctioned depictions of the communist threat were not so much learned as “history” but consumed as everyday knowledge when they were students and young officials in the 1960s and 1970s. The production of history on the insurgency shows little sign that the “lessons” of the period have changed. A recent compilation of sources on the Emergency by a Malaysian historian is dominated by records from the Colonial Office, with no discussion of the inherent biases 36.  Cheah 1996, 50, 48. 37.  Cheah 1996; Khoo 1979. 38.  Government of Malaysia 1968. 39.  The flavor of reporting is captured in Mathews 2007. 40.  Quoted in Mathews 2007, 151. 41.  Hanrahan 1971.

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and problems presented by them.42 A book by the same author on social life and intergroup relations during the Emergency offers a broader perspective, but in many ways it complements rather than challenges establishment accounts.43 Paradoxically, the book that was intended to have been the establishment record of the Emergency offers a much calmer—and in some ways sympathetic— interpretation of the communist movement, despite its author having drawn heavily on the official records to which he was granted privileged access.44 The Malaysian government refused to publish the book despite an earlier agreement to do so, and the author later described it as having very limited circulation in Malaysia.45 Although it is cited by Malaysian scholars, little attention has been paid to the points where it deviates from the establishment accounts, particularly its portrayal of Malayan communism as essentially nationalist.46 Two books by Malaysian historian Cheah Boon Kheng published (in Singapore) in 1979 and 1983 also present a variegated picture of the motivations and actions of communist and leftist groups as well as of the nature of social conflicts in the 1940s.47 The actual content of Cheah’s work, however, has been very selectively incorporated in retellings of history. For example, one account of the ethnic cleavage dividing the political left in the early postwar years asserts that “the predominantly Chinese Malayan Communist Party (MCP) and the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) imposed a ‘reign of terror.’ . . . Malays found themselves helpless and humiliated under the military might of the Chinese. They were subjected not only to armed attacks but also public scorn and religious insults.”48 The source given is Cheah’s book, which is also cited as the source for an incident in which the communists slaughtered pigs in a village mosque and then forced Malay villagers to eat them. In Cheah’s book, however, the incident is described as “a story” told to a British scholar by Malay villagers. Cheah explicitly labels these and many other accounts of atrocities that circulated at the time as myths that justified later retaliation, including mass killings of ethnic Chinese by Malays. Cheah also shows that the “reign of terror” was not “imposed” by “the communists” but marked a chaotic period in which bandits, former MPAJA guerrillas,

42.  Ho 2006. Harper 2001 argues that colonial records are infused with the political presumptions and needs of the government, vague categorizations, and frequently unsubstantiated but grandly expansive assertions. See also Guha 2001; Stenson 1971. 43.  Ho 2004. 44.  Short 2000. 45.  Short 2000, preface. It is tempting to see the University of Malaya’s decision to republish Gene Hanrahan’s account in 1971 as a preemptive rebuttal of Short’s more balanced work, which was submitted to the government in 1968. 46.  Stubbs 1989 is more frequently (but also selectively) cited on the Emergency. 47.  Cheah 1979, 2003. See also Harper 1999. 48.  Ikmal 1992, 262.

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and ethnic Malays all carried out killings and acts of vengeance.49 These aspects of the period, however, are not recalled in establishment histories. The deep racialized fissures in Malaysian politics are a reason for limited reconsideration of the Chinese-identified communist movement. Cheah observes that “not much recognition has been accorded the communist insurgents for their important role as a catalyst” for independence. He quotes Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, reminiscing, years after his retirement, that the communists had fought for independence, but “the communists of Malaya were not the indigenous people of this country and they were fighting to set up a communist regime which believers in the faith of Islam [i.e., the Malays] could not support.”50 The main motif in his history of nation-building is the oscillating—and politically instrumental— definitions of the nation by the political elite, between ethnically inclusive (Malayan, Malaysian) nationalism and an exclusive Malay nationalism. This oscillation has also been the primary contest in Malaysian historiography, as it turned to rewrite history in less Eurocentric terms.51 The main thrust has been to write national history as Malay history and to enshrine Malays as the indigenous inhabitants of the country.52 In the 1980s an academic history did reclaim the Malay leftists of the 1950s as part of a tradition of anticolonial Malay nationalism, but the treatment of non-Malays is “negative and even pessimistic,” and the account of the Emergency “stresses that the communists tended to be Chinese.”53 The emphasis on the communists as Chinese can be traced to British policy not to publicize the estimated over one thousand Malays detained as leftists, communists, or sympathizers after 1948, “because the British authorities were anxious to insulate the Malay population from ideas of communism. They feared that disclosure of Malay involvement with the communists might weaken their propaganda in identifying the communists as mainly Chinese.”54 To the present, the communist movement is most often presented as vicious, ethnically Chinese, and lacking any sense of Malayan nationalism. Recent publications with establishment credentials continue to highlight the brutality of the insurgency (but not of the counterinsurgency) while avoiding any potentially legitimate motivations of CPM members. In a commemorative volume on fifty years of independence issued in 2007, the largely unemotive introduction, written by Cheah Boon Kheng, is visually punctuated by an editorial decision to 49.  Cheah 2003, 197–198. 50.  Cheah 2002, 22. 51.  Khoo 1979; Milner 2005; Zainal Abidin 1992. 52.  Cheah 1996. 53.  Milner 2005, 143. 54.  Cheah 1979, 63.

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highlight part of one phrase. The highlighted text reads “communist guerrillas savagely settled old scores with the Malay police and . . . non-Malay population.”55 Similarly, a volume of the Encyclopedia of Malaysia describes the communist party in blunt—and racially Chinese—terms: “It used murder, torture and other forms of intimidation as methods of control. The MCP failed, however, to attract Malay support, communism being antithetical to Islam.”56 The volume also gives little sense of the political contests involving the noncommunist left or the way it was defeated. It blames the May 1969 riots on the opposition parties, who are accused of inciting religious and racial tension (a charge not leveled at ruling coalition parties). Opposition supporters are described as singing “Communist songs” and waving red flags.57 Another recent book on the Emergency period is a tribute to the Malaysian Special Branch and its efforts in countering communism, written to “help save the younger generation from being swayed by non-objective narrations and writings of history.”58 Not only does the book repeatedly condemn the CPM, it also draws direct parallels between the communist threat and opposition movements forty years later. Perhaps for this reason, it does showcase leftist Malays—as treasonous communists.59 The task of instilling the correct understanding of history is primarily assigned to the schools. A Malaysian writer and social critic describes the version of history taught in schools as “written by those who are paid by the feudal lords or the sultans and the bourgeoisie class who have become an appendage to the modern neo-feudalistic Malay state. Malaysian history, a basis of the violently disseminated idea of Ketuanan Melayu [Malay dominance], as an apology to the idea of economic dominance of the Malay-dominated National Front, favors the powerful and the wealthy as heroes of history.”60 In many ways congruent with old British histories, this version can also be traced to a directive by Minister for Education Anwar Ibrahim to review the history syllabus to ensure that “true Malaysian history” would be taught in schools. The new textbook issued in 1992 drew attention to the special position of the Malays “as the original inhabitants

55.  Mathews 2007, 24. 56.  Zakaria 2006, 37. The sections on the Emergency were based on text provided by Richard Stubbs but were heavily edited in the process of production. Correspondence, Richard Stubbs, June 2010. 57.  Zakaria 2006, 54. A counterhistory is given in Kua 2008. The book-length version of his account (Kua 2007) was rumored to have been removed from bookshops in Malaysia. 58.  Zainuddin 2004, x. The author is a prominent former journalist and editor with the government-affiliated Utusan Melayu from 1960 until 1992, then editor of its publications wing and a senator and deputy minister. 59.  Zainuddin 2004, 22–23, 11. 60.  Azly Rahman. Comment posted at http://malaysianunplug.blogspot.com/2010/02/narrativeon-malaysian-history.html, 2 February 2010.

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of this country,” a position espoused by a number of Malay historians that Malays are the “base society” while non-Malays are “splinter societies.”61 Recently, Malay leftist leaders have been somewhat rehabilitated in textbooks and study guides, although there is no suggestion of a potential alternative trajectory to postindependence history.62 Questions about the dominant narrative elsewhere nonetheless make it possible to imagine such alternatives.63 In the late 1990s, former members of the CPM began to publish their own memoirs, and new histories with different perspectives emerged.64 A history of the Malays who joined the insurgency makes space for them as believing (and practicing) Muslims and nationalists as well as communists.65 Such revisionist accounts have been tolerated at the margins but no further. Two light-hearted films by a Malaysian filmmaker were promptly banned on the grounds of “glorifying communism.”66 Commenting on the banning of the films, a Malaysian scholar wrote, “The everso-sensitive sentiments of right-wing nationalists will tolerate no alternative viewpoint contrary to their own; even if this means denying the fact that it was the MCP and its military wing that fought against the Japanese imperialist army during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia during World War Two, and later the returning British imperialist army. . . . [T]he MCP and its members have been steadily written out of the history books and the process of historical erasure continues unabated till today.”67

Indonesia The Indonesian national history project since the 1950s has written history centered around indigenous heroes and anti-Dutch struggles, with an explicit aim of forging national identity.68 After the military-backed takeover of government in 1966 and the installation of Suharto’s New Order, official history was written with more specific aims. In the words of the regime’s favorite historian, Nugroho Notosusanto, “Since the New Order period began, education has never been a routine activity, rather it has been perceived as the formation of cadets

61.  Cheah 1996, 67–68. 62.  Nasir et al. 2010. 63.  Farish 2002; Milner 2005. 64.  Chin 2003; Ho 2006, 196–197. 65.  Salleh 2006, 193–194. 66.  See “Rais and MPs: ‘Last Communist’ Not Offensive,” Malaysiakini, 22 May 2007. The two films, by Amir Muhamad, were Lelaki Komunis Terakhir and Apa Khabar Orang Kampung. 67.  Farish 2007. 68.  Kwa 2006; Reid 1979; Taufik 2009, 206–210.

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to continue the nation’s struggle.”69 While retaining the anachronistic projection of an imagined national unity back into earlier centuries, the postindependence history produced by the New Order was defined by two central elements: the glorification of the military and a virulent anticommunism. Both these aspects, along with the intensive efforts of the government to shape and disseminate its version of history using textbooks, museums, films, and monuments, have been extensively detailed.70 The central event representing communist evil and treachery is the “Gestapu” or “G30S/PKI” movement, named after the date—30 September 1965—when six army generals were killed as part of an inept coup attempt carried out by elements within the military and put down within a few hours. The army immediately described it as an attempt to seize power by the communist party, the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI). As a “pretext for mass murder,” it gave the military the opportunity to orchestrate a campaign of killings aimed at eradicating the Indonesian left and ousting President Sukarno from power.71 From the beginning, massive propaganda was central to this takeover, from the fabricated news reports of purported communist torture and atrocities to claims that the PKI was on the verge of carrying out its own campaign of mass murder. The New Order never gave up its public obsession with an ongoing “latent” threat of communism. As summarized in one account, “For Indonesians born or raised after 1965, the ‘communist treason’ became, arguably, the most critical element of the grand narrative of post-colonial Indonesian history. Deleted from Indonesia’s national history text books was the role played by Indonesia’s Left, including the PKI, in the nationalist, anticolonial struggle. Moreover, the possibility of radical populist or socialist imaginings of an alternative Indonesia was all but effectively terminated [by] the late 1960s.”72 For Indonesians residing in Indonesia, contesting the New Order’s account of communism or the events of 1965–66 presented problems of access to official records, political intimidation, and career incentives that pointed strongly in other directions.73 All books regarded as “Marxist” were banned, along with the works of Indonesia’s most celebrated novelist, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who was imprisoned from 1966 until 1978. Indonesian historians in the 1970s and 1980s criticized

69.  Quoted in McGregor 2007, 162. Nugroho Notosusanto was a historian at the University of Indonesia, head of the Armed Forces History Centre for two decades until 1985, and minister for education (1983–1985). 70.  Hadiz 2006; McGregor 2007; Wood 2005. Heryanto 2005 provides evidence of the often coercive means employed to ensure compliance to such state narratives. 71.  Roosa 2006. 72.  Hadiz 2006, 556. 73.  Heryanto 2005, 53–55.

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the official history of Indonesia that formed the basis for textbooks, but for its anti-Sukarnoist slant, not its anticommunism.74 Other Indonesian critics from the 1970s to the 1990s contested the New Order’s self-styled vision of its place in Indonesian history.75 But former leftists—those that survived the killings and arrests— were utterly unable to contest the narrative laid down and enforced by the military. Simply surviving in the face of official discrimination was enough of a challenge.76 The collapse of the New Order and democratization since 1998 allowed for multiple challenges to official history and new narratives on the role of the left.77 The seizure of power by Suharto and the installation of the New Order have also been taken up by Indonesian-language counterhistories.78 Nonetheless, despite widespread skepticism and dissatisfaction with official history, the demonization of the left has proved remarkably resilient.79 The country’s senior historian produced a lengthy history of the postindependence period that does not even engage with the possibility of a revision of the role of the left.80 The book gives a perfunctory nod to competing interpretations of the events of 30 September 1965—a book published in 2009 could hardly fail to—but effectively blames the PKI for its own destruction, with Sukarno the main figure singled out for criticism. The book describes the endorsement of the coup attempt that appeared in the PKI’s newspaper after the coup had been suppressed as an “ill-advised editorial” that “might have sealed the fates of the PKI and its members and supporters.” Responsibility for the change of regime is obliquely suggested: “The eventful night of 30 September marked the beginning of the fall of Sukarno— the ideologically constructed revolutionary sphere had finally devoured not only its ideological children, but also its own creator.”81 Outside the academic sphere, moves to uncover and reinterpret the past met uncompromising and sometimes violent opposition. President Abdurrahman Wahid’s attempt to rescind the law banning communism failed, and a political movement led by Islamic-identified groups and retired military leaders emerged to counter the “resurgence” of communism after 1998.82 A revised school textbook that failed to affix the label “PKI” to the 30 September 1965 movement was

74.  McGregor 2007, 153–161. 75.  Kwa 2006, 8–9. 76.  Anderson 1993. 77.  Suhelmi 2007 stresses conflict between the left and Islamic groups. Budiawan 2004 is a more trenchant account that seeks, among other things, to establish that there was an Islamic left. 78.  Wardaya 2007, 2009. 79.  Heryanto 2005, 50–57. 80.  Taufik 2009. 81.  Taufik 2009, 325. 82.  Budiawan 2004; Suhelmi 2007.

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banned—and publicly burned along with other “leftist” books.83 Social organizations that had sought justice and reconciliation with the families of victims of the 1965–66 massacres and former political prisoners met with harassment, and a movement within the country’s largest Islamic organization to revisit its own role in the mass killings was constrained by internal opposition.84 In 2009 the government announced a ban on five books considered to be “disturbing public order,” including a translation of John Roosa’s reconstruction of the roles played by different groups involved in the events of 1965.85 The assumption behind the book bannings, observed a dissenting Indonesian scholar, was that “any departure from the official version of events—and thus the truth—must involve a threat to public order.”86 The majority of Indonesian foreign policy practitioners and others with establishment status interviewed in 2007 explicitly mentioned domestic communism as a critical threat to the nation, even as they also acknowledged (in some cases) that anticommunism had served instrumental purposes for Suharto’s regime. One prominent foreign policy adviser averred that “Indonesia almost fell to communism” and hence crushing the “communists” in 1965 and 1966 had been absolutely necessary.87 The idea that “if we hadn’t done it to them, they would have done it to us” appears to have its roots as much in Cold War–era Englishlanguage reporting as in the New Order’s propaganda. The American journalist whose dispatches from Indonesia won him a Pulitzer Prize subscribed to this notion of an armed communist party ready to murder its political opponents en masse, and the image crops up repeatedly in other western journalism and films, recirculating the deliberate disinformation efforts of British and American intelligence services.88 Another interviewee used the terms brainwashing and propaganda to describe the New Order efforts at instilling anticommunism. When asked why he simultaneously appeared to espouse this as the truth, he responded that “it is hard to get away from the mindset” in the absence of certainty about narratives of the past.89 The need for certainty can produce effects that are not captured in models of propaganda as cynically instrumental. As observed in an analysis of the New Order’s anxieties about dissent, “Crudely speaking, state agents must fool themselves at the same time as, or before, they fool others about subversive threats.”90

83.  Farid 2010; Suhelmi 2007, 195–205. 84.  McGregor 2009. 85.  Roosa 2006. 86.  Farid 2010. 87.  Interview 12. 88.  Curtis 2004; Hughes 2002, 198–199. 89.  Interview 5. 90.  Heryanto 2005, 178. See also Roosa 2003.

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The Philippines and Thailand In Thailand and the Philippines, establishment narratives of the past have been more comprehensively disturbed by historians and political figures at the center as well as at the margins. Thus, while it is possible to identify an elite-centered national history in which communists and other dissenters are delegitimized, since the 1970s this version has not monopolized “national history.” Revisionist histories have had greater sway in the Philippines and Thailand, where a degree of political pluralism has meant that historians with leftist political sympathies have been able to contribute to the writing of national history. National history as a field has thus been more accommodating toward movements that might otherwise have been uniformly dismissed as treasonous. This was not always the case. In Thailand, history as a profession was established under royal patronage, and a number of influential histories of the kingdom were written by members of the royal family—histories in which “kingdom and monarchy” were the central themes.91 The monarchy itself, beginning in the late nineteenth century, played a major role in the construction of an imagined and ancient Thai nation, which they could present themselves as having “saved” from European colonialism.92 This narrative occupied center stage and was popularized in the middle of the twentieth century, even as the monarchy itself was reduced to being “constitutional” after a coup in 1932. The coup leaders, several of whom dominated Thai politics in later decades, needed to construct a nationalist version of Thai history that could inherit the “Thailand” carved out in the monarchical account. The main author of this version of Thai history was an influential and prolific historian, Luang Wichitwathakan, a career diplomat and civil servant from 1934 to 1962. His writings “often ignored facts and accuracy” but, with their glorification of the Thai race, were very popular. His history “became an ideological weapon of the new ruling elite.”93 After World War II, this new ruling elite adopted anticommunism as a plank of official policy—before there was a significant communist movement in Thailand—using it as a tool to tar any opponent and a means of gaining material support from the United States.94 The ousted civilian leader of the 1940s, Pridi Bhanomyong, noted that the government made it seem that the communists “would confiscate the clothes you are wearing. They would make women common property, destroy religion and so on. This kind of propaganda makes people

91.  Charnvit 1979, 165. 92.  Thongchai 1994. 93.  Charnvit 1979, 167. 94.  Jayanama 2001.

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afraid of Communism so much that it becomes a state of mind.”95 Communists were stigmatized as non-Thai outsiders, jek, in the “official nationalist project of the Thai nation” at least until the 1970s.96 The ethnic exclusivity of the Thai nation in official accounts included “the monarchy, the military, and submissive, conformist, clientilist political culture as the components in the essence of ethnic Thainess and the Thai nation, and their concomitant exclusion of jek communists and any form of radical, leftist culture and politics.” Communism was used as a “deadly signifier” with no real fixed content, as “anyone who stood in the way of the Thai official nationalist project was in effect designated a ‘communist.’ ” 97 The monarchical, anticommunist, and ethnically exclusive discourse of Thai history was challenged by a Marxist historian of the 1950s, Jit Phumisak.98 In an analysis made by a later Thai historian, Jit’s awareness of the political uses of official nationalist history was the background against which he fashioned his own counterhistory.99 Jit’s works were banned, and he was imprisoned after Sarit came to power in two coups in 1957 and 1958. After his release he joined the guerrilla movement and was shot in 1966. He was, however, posthumously influential in the rethinking of Thai historical studies after the student uprising in 1973, when Marxist histories appeared, including Jit’s previously suppressed history of Thai feudalism.100 The “revolution” that brought about the civilian interlude until 1976 meant that a “new history that served people was urgently needed for the new epoch.”101 The historiographical accounts that revise the old monarchical Thai history were mostly produced by Thai scholars. The field of Thai history has thus become increasingly plural, especially since the “security paranoia which had haunted the Thai elite since the birth of the nation subsided” in the 1980s.102 The 1976 massacre of students was followed by the installation of an extremely right-wing government, but another coup in 1977 brought a more moderate military leadership to power. Kasian Tejapira writes that 1977 marked a shift in public discourse on communism: “For decades during the Cold War, the Thai state depicted the communist insurgency as an evil, alien terrorism, which was aimed at colonising and destroying the country. They were definitely not Thai. In 1973–1976, this   95.  Quoted in Yuangrat Wedel 1983, 4.   96.  Kasian 2003. The term jek denotes “Chinese” and is generally pejorative, notwithstanding reclamations in revisionist “jek history,” as discussed in Thak 2007, 244–249. On the construction of “Thainess” in opposition to Chinese and Vietnamese identity in particular, see Thongchai 1994.   97.  Kasian 2003, 247, 253.   98.  A translation of Jit Phumisak’s work is included in Reynolds 1987.   99.  Charnvit 1979, 169. 100.  Reynolds and Hong 1983. 101.  Thongchai 1995, 101. 102.  Thongchai 1995, 110, 115.

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discourse was challenged. It emerged that many communists were rural villagers who had been neglected, or suppressed, and were the victims of the abuse of power.” When students joined the communist insurgency en masse after 1976, “the communists” were recognized to include children of the urban bourgeoisie. “Definitely they were not aliens. Suddenly, the CPT was not such an alien power either,” according to Kasian. In 1980 an official document set out the communist problem as “primarily domestic and political” and provided for an amnesty for those students who had joined the insurgency.103 Monarchical history has continued in school textbooks and popular films that glorify the battles of an ethnic Thai nation led by its kings and notables against neighboring states.104 Among professional historians, the revolution of the mid1970s has not been uniformly welcomed.105 Nonetheless, the “middle-class” strand that Thai communism acquired has produced a broad range of views in the Thai foreign policy community—and often ambivalence. One elite former diplomat interviewed in 2007 remembered his family’s ties to members of the military leadership, some of whom he described as good and honest men. With family members who had died fighting the CPT, it was “impossible” to deny the communist threat. He also, however, remembered the death of his own friend among those killed at Thammasat University in 1976 and saw it as only a matter of chance that he had not been there on the day of the massacre.106 Other interviewees whose elite backgrounds might have inclined them toward anticommunist, conservative worldviews instead remembered former students and colleagues who fell victim to the massacre and the subsequent crackdown. One U.S.-educated academic who described himself as a “Reaganite Republican” as a student recognized that the victims of anticommunist action included intelligent and well-intentioned fellow citizens.107 The Philippine national historical narrative is similarly plural, with a long tradition of giving space to revolutionary figures.108 The national revolution against Spain (1896–98) has provided scope for both conservative, elite-oriented readings of history and more radical discourses.109 Divergent interpretations of the revolution and its leadership—which had both elite and popular or peasant-based strands—circulated in textbooks and other histories. Thus not

103.  Kasian 2003, 260. 104.  Hong 2009; Jory 2003. 105.  Rong 1981, 188–189. Rong Syamananda was a senior professor of history at Thailand’s elite Chulalongkorn University. 106.  Interview 61. 107.  Interview 53. 108.  Ileto 1998. 109.  Hau 2005.

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one but several national narratives emerged, including those written by leftists, members of the communist party, and former Hukbalahap guerrillas.110 A contemporary historian notes that José Rizal, the national hero executed by Spain and domesticated in elite and American-era constructions, continues to be used by Filipinos at “opposite ends of the political and ideological spectrum” for their own ends.111 Reynaldo Ileto has written that the suppression of the Huk rebellion in the 1950s “led radical intellectuals to concentrate on revamping the histories taught in the public school system,” forcing the domesticated interpretations of the revolution that had dominated during the colonial period “to compete with, and eventually yield to, more radical interpretations of the events of 1896–98: Bonifacio-centred, anti-illustrado, and class struggle-oriented. Teodoro Agoncillo’s Revolt of the Masses (1957) became the new master-text of the revolution, later fine-tuned by Marxist Renato Constantino.”112 A history of the Philippine revolution by a later Filipino historian breaks with traditional source materials to place the meaning of the revolution for the peasant “masses” center stage.113 Both Andreas Bonifacio and Teodoro Agoncillo, the first professional historian to reclaim nonelite understandings of the revolution, continue to be discussed by Filipino historians.114 Politicians across the spectrum have adopted “the idiom of radical nationalism.”115 History textbooks reflect a range of views on leftist movements in the postindependence period. Agoncillo accords a relatively honorable place to the Huk movement in the school textbook version of his national history, which describes the Huks as offering effective resistance to the Japanese during World War II and provoking counteraction by “greedy landlords” after the war. The Huk uprising is not labeled communist or linked to communism.116 In contrast, another widely available textbook describes peace and order in the postwar Philippines as threatened by “criminals and rebels. Communists led by the Hukbalahap or Huks terrorized the countryside.” Their “Red communist movement” nearly brought down the government of Elpidio Quirino (who goes on record as helping the poor), taxing and terrorizing the people and shocking the nation with

110.  For example, Pommeroy 1978; Taruc 1954. See also Ferrer 2007, 408. 111.  Ocampo 2001b, 34. 112.  Ileto 1999, 14–15. 113.  Ileto 1979. 114.  Hila 2001; Ocampo 2001a. Agoncillo’s student Ambeth Ocampo writes from an explicitly revisionist and “down-to-earth” perspective and enjoys wide readership in the Philippines, including through regular newspaper columns. Hedman and Sidel 2000, 144–146. 115.  Reynaldo Ileto, quoted in Hau 2005, 48–49. 116.  Agoncillo 2006, 236–237.

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“communist brutality.”117 Both books note the problem of poverty, and Agoncillo makes scattered negative references to Filipino elites and corrupt politicians, who are counterpoised against Marcos’s apparently laudatory efforts (as well as those of his “beautiful” and “charming” wife Imelda) to clean up Filipino politics and pursue a more just society—a reminder, perhaps, that Marcos was heralded by many as an anti-elite politician who would sweep away the oligarchy.118 The university campuses that housed the academic production of history were also places of social and nationalist activism, as well as an academic Marxist tradition, starting in the late 1960s. At least some groups at leading Philippine universities were sympathetic to the communist party in the 1970s, seeing it as a nationalist organization leading an insurrection against Marcos and martial law.119 University graduates who moved on to take their places in government and private sector careers would find it hard to sustain images of an undifferentiated “Marxist-communist” evil that threatened their country. In the contemporary period, therefore, although individual views of the ongoing communist insurgency range from vehement opposition to sympathy, communism does not appear as an alien intrusion in the way that it figures in the mainstream of Indonesian, Malaysian, or Singaporean history. The language of redistribution and criticism of the injustices of an oligarchic political economy can be found in the writings of establishment figures, marking out conceptual recognition of leftist causes, even if a viable political left remains elusive in reality.120

External Threats: The United States as Savior or Safeguard For the noncommunist countries in Southeast Asia, national histories that demonize domestic communists (actual or alleged) produce a particular vision of the Cold War conflicts in the region, one in which the United States appears not only on the winning side of history but also on the right side. The specter of domestic communism becomes a gateway to international communism in general and China in particular. Drawing heavily on establishment national histories, many members of the foreign policy community justified their assessment 117.  Zaide and Zaide 2004, 162–163. It is not stated when this book first appeared. The 2004 edition was the sixth, which was into its fourth printing by 2008. 118.  Contending interpretations of the state under Marcos are reviewed in Hutchcroft 1991. 119.  Abinales 1998; Quimpo 2004. Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and former member of the original Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas in the 1960s, had been an instructor at the University of the Philippines. Ferrer 2007, 406. 120.  See, e.g., Almonte 2007.

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of the United States as a benign power on the basis of the historical threats against which it had offered protection or support. These histories were also the source of more negative or guarded impressions of China, which was frequently identified as the alternative great power against which the United States needed to play a “balancing” role. Seen through these lenses, America’s past use of force in the region is not always forgotten but interpreted in positive terms.121 This is especially the case in countries with strong and unequivocal narratives of a domestic communist threat, much less so in the Philippines. Singaporean policymakers have been most explicit in their use of history in recent years. Singapore’s foreign minister claimed in a public speech that, “Today’s Asia could not have come about without the American involvement. . . . After the Second World War, the U.S. was determined to break up the European empires. . . . The Korean and Vietnam Wars over which the U.S. expended many lives and much treasure bought time for the Newly Industrialized Economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore to develop and take off.”122 The idea that the American war in Vietnam “bought time” for the rest of the Southeast Asia could have been lifted directly from Lee Kuan Yew’s memoirs, which are littered with references to the United States as the region’s Cold War–era savior.123 Almost all members of the foreign policy community interviewed in Singapore echoed the same view of the past, often with an explicit reference to Lee Kuan Yew’s views. Prominent diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, while critical of many aspects of the American record as “stupid” or “arrogant,” still held the opinion that “Southeast Asia needs to send a big thank you note to the U.S.” for its actions in Asia during the Cold War. One respondent expressed his thoughts in this way: “What if the Vietnam War had gone the other way, and the dominoes had fallen? It is not implausible at all that Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia could have fallen to communism.” Given that he was certainly aware that the Vietnam War did in fact “go the other way,” his words should perhaps be interpreted as a general validation of anticommunist efforts. When elaborated by several interviewees—in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand as well as Singapore—the idea that the United States “bought time” for the rest of the region was most often presented to mean that the United States had provided a secure external environment in which they could deal with their own domestic communists. Some respondents, particularly those in Singapore and 121.  Over half of the respondents from the noncommunist countries made this assessment of the Vietnam War, judging it to have been good in that it bought time for their country, offered them protection, or was simply a good war since it was fought against communism. Only a small minority in this pool of respondents (10 out of 64) explicitly identified the Vietnam War as a bad thing. 122.  Yeo 2006. 123.  Lee 2000. See also Lee 2007.

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Thailand, explicitly called up the image of an expansionist Vietnam (or China) that might have pushed into Thailand and on to the rest of Southeast Asia if the United States had not been there to stop them.124 One responded to a query as to why he believed this scenario to be plausible with the reply that, “How to prove such things? You cannot prove when deterrence works . . . but you can’t take stability for granted”—making it clear that the burden of proof was on the other side of the argument. He also pointed to China’s historical record as more aggressive than that of the United States. Unlike the Americans, he said, “the Chinese have ‘roughed us up’ ” in the past.125 A former diplomat, when asked to justify his judgment that China was more belligerent than the United States, said, “It wasn’t just exporting communism, we can go back to eleventh century, the tribute system. . . . Maybe history will repeat itself. Some think the tribute system is alive and well today.” He also believed that if the United States had not “gone in and delayed the advance of Soviet communism, in alliance with Vietnamese communism,” then “the rest of Southeast Asia would have found it harder to resist,” leaving open the issue of whether the communist threat was domestic or external. The same respondent traced his view that the hallmark of postwar American policy, including its war in Vietnam, had been “making the world safe from communism” to beliefs formed as a student: “I saw the Vietnam war as an extension of communism; I could see what they were doing in Malaya at the time.” For him, this was a natural view of history—he claimed not to have considered the Vietnam War in any other light. At this point in the interview, an Indian national present in the room interjected: “In 1967 I was a ten-year-old in Calcutta, but even boys of eight and nine knew about the Vietnam War. We saw it as the extension of capitalism. We saw the Vietnam War as our war; the U.S. was threatening fundamental values, squashing nationalism and socialism. . . . It was racist.” The former diplomat replied: “Yes, we saw you as being with the Soviets.”126 As a new generation of Singaporeans gradually replaces those who remember either the war or the full force of government anticommunist propaganda as a matter of personal experience, the certainty with which the past is viewed is likely to change. In contrast to other Singaporean respondents, the two youngest were uncertain that the Vietnam War had been necessary or that it saved Southeast Asia from communism. One suggested that the example of China (“now capitalist”) could be taken to mean that communist ideology would have changed in any 124.  Breathless reporting by the anticommunist Time magazine during the Cold War frequently made such claims. Serious scholarship on Vietnamese communism and foreign policy, including the ambitions and worldviews of its leaders, provides ample reason to consider such claims to be ideologically-driven fabrications. 125.  Interview 45. 126.  Interview 49.

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case.127 Another initially agreed with Lee Kuan Yew’s claim that the war “bought time” for Singapore but then added that, in retrospect, he had doubts. “But the older generation of Singaporean diplomats and officials, they believed. . . . My own views have changed in the last ten years. . . . It is not what I was taught.”128 What mainstream national history teaches Singaporeans about external threats includes an image of China linked to domestic “communist” groups in Singapore and elsewhere. In one Cold War–era review, a Singaporean academic describes the Singapore government as doubting the sincerity of Chinese declarations of noninterference, given their past “bellicose statements” in support of revolution and ongoing “psychological warfare” in the form of the CPM’s radio broadcasts. The same source takes the Chinese hand at work in Indonesian communism as uncontentious, noting that “Indonesia’s memory of the PRC’s involvement in the Gestapo-PKI movement still lingers.”129 Local communists are also linked through shared ethnic identity to China. A prominent Singaporean historian, for example, cites Lee Kuan Yew on the threat posed by leftist opposition figures who were opposed to merger with Malaysia in the early 1960s: if the opposition had won, “power in Singapore would pass to a China-minded group with strong cultural and economic links with Communist China”—holding out the prospect of a “Chinese communist base right in the heart of Southeast Asia.”130 The author offers no independent scrutiny of Lee’s assertions. Another recent history evokes the affective ties between ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia and the mainland and implies that the domestic communists threatening Singapore would draw the country into the PRC’s orbit.131 The book’s treatment of Indonesia’s Confrontation of Malaysia attributes it mostly to Sukarno’s wish to find an external distraction and the PKI’s ambition. Initial American reluctance to press Sukarno too forcefully is explained in these terms: “The Americans were containing the communist tide on the mainland of Southeast Asia, with neutralization in Laos and war in Vietnam, and the last thing they needed was a situation offering communism to make gains in island Southeast Asia.”132 After the Cold War, communism was replaced by race as the “primordial faultline in Singapore as a nation” in national histories.133 The labored emphasis on this “fault-line” has immediate connections to Singapore’s nearest neighbors, consistently presented as sharing a “Malay-Muslim” identity that is hostile to

127.  Interview 50. 128.  Interview 44. 129.  Lau 1975, 44–45, 25. The Indonesian contraction is actually Gestapu. 130.  Quoted in Tan 2008, 45. 131.  Lee 2008, 135. 132.  Lee 2008, 224–225. 133.  Hong and Huang 2008, 20, 22.

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Singapore.134 Histories of the “trauma” of separation from Malaysia are often invoked for understanding Singaporean obsessions with vulnerability and the country’s need for a strong military deterrent—both in the form of building up its own defense forces and in the form of implied American protection.135 The image of latent, ethnically based hostility also penetrates Singaporean writing on its one experience of external aggression, Indonesia’s Confrontation of Malaysia. Thus an establishment historian writes of Confrontation: “The Indonesians had their own axes to grind with Malaysia, which they saw as a rival to their own vision of Melayu Raya (Greater Malay Nation), a greater Malay world of which Indonesia would constitute is cultural and political center, the antecedents of which, the Indonesians claimed, were evident in the pre-colonial empires of Srivijaya and Majapahit.”136 This is presented as so obviously valid as to not require a single piece of evidence.137 Far more than in Malaysia itself, Singaporean leaders have repeatedly referred to Confrontation as a defining historical event, despite the extraordinarily limited nature of the conflict in Singapore.138 Malaysian and Indonesian (post-1965) accounts of Confrontation also emphasize the role of the PKI and Sukarno’s personal irresponsibility but lack the shadow of a presumed ethnic or religious motivation.139 What they share is a refusal to engage with any of the scholarship that investigates Indonesian motives empirically, let alone accounts that are sympathetic.140 They also ignore archival evidence of British—and Malaysian—aggression during Confrontation.141 In fact, not only was there considerable British provocation in the lead-up to Confrontation, but Great Britain and Malaysia also made forays well into Indonesian territory and covertly aided rebel movements inside Indonesia. If the same generous standards of interpretation applied to Indonesian aims are applied to Malaysia, there is scope for inferring predatory Malaysian intentions against Indonesia. On the

134.  Hamilton-Hart 2009; Rahim 2009. 135.  Lau 1998; Lee 2008. 136.  Tan 2008, 190. 137.  Claims of an expansionist and racially motivated Indonesia that continue to surface regularly in Singapore can perhaps be traced to the rather fantastical accounts of cold warriors writing in the 1960s. See, for example, Gordon 1963/64. Although the term “Indonesia Raya” was used by some Indonesian politicians in the 1940s (and “Melayu Raya” was used by some Malay nationalists), an interpretation of this to mean a territorial claim stretches the more obvious sense in which these ideas conjured up an imagined shared space that transcended colonial boundaries. 138.  The repeated references by current Singaporean leaders to Confrontation are the subject of a dissertation in progress at the National University of Singapore, undertaken by Jean Tan. An exemplary piece of official remembrance is the Singapore Ministry of Defence’s entry under “Konfrontasi,” available at www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/about_us/history/birth_of_saf/v01n09_history.html. 139.  For example, Zakaria 2006, 46. 140.  Kahin 2003; Poulgrain 1998. 141.  Easter 2000.

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basis of British records at the time, a historian concludes that “unlike the British, the Malaysians still hoped to use covert action as a way of breaking up Indonesia.” British conversations with Ghazali Shafie, Malaysia’s leading figure in the security and foreign affairs establishment, left them with the belief that Ghazali “was convinced that Sumatra would fall into his lap like a ripe plum.”142 Malaysian histories and recollections of history by members of the foreign policy community play down Indonesia’s Confrontation to give primary emphasis to China as an external threat, with its role in the domestic communist insurgency identified as the reason for viewing China with at least residual caution today. Even more than in Singapore, Malaysian accounts link domestic communists with “China” through explicit claims of Chinese patronage of the CPM and expansive use of the term Chinese as both a racial and a national signifier. Malaysia’s vociferously anticommunist first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, frequently conflated domestic Chinese, the CPM, and communist China.143 British counterinsurgency propaganda also emphasized the role of China as the guiding force behind Malayan communism and frequently left it unclear whether “Chinese” was meant to signify ethnic Chinese in Malaya or the PRC.144 The connection between domestic communism and China that was repeated in official statements from the 1950s through the 1970s continues to surface. Thus a Malaysian scholar writes that the perception of the domestic insurgency as essentially ethnically Chinese strengthened fears of “a Beijing-led Asian communism engulfing the entire Southeast Asian region.” Chinese insurgents combined with a large ethnic Chinese population “fuelled official concern about their potential role as fifth columnists in the service of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and the Communist Party of China.”145 It was an article of faith among many Malaysian respondents that China had been a significant force behind the CPM. When asked how they knew of the role played by China, most referred to it as “historical fact” that was widely known. One academic, when pressed for a source, suggested the books on the insurgency by Anthony Short and Richard Stubbs. Neither book, however, gives any basis for claims of significant Chinese influence or support. Short in fact (in the book that the Malaysian government refused to publish) argues that the communists were essentially locally controlled. He also describes official assertions as driven by a determination “to prove the existence of a dominant Chinese connection” 142.  Easter 2000, 201. 143.  See, for example, the Tunku’s 1961 speech, in which he first publicly raised the possibility of allowing Singapore into a merged Malaysia. Reproduced in New Straits Times Press 2007, 172–173. 144.  Federation of Malaya 1959. A retrospective account by a former Special Branch official discounts the significance of Soviet or Chinese influence on the CPM. Comber 2009. 145.  Nathan 1998, 515.

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on the basis of slim and ambiguous evidence and concludes, “Evidence of direct Chinese intervention in Malaya is, at best, circumstantial.”146 The former CPM leader relates that Chinese funding was pivotal in the CPM’s decision to resume an armed strategy after being effectively defeated by the late 1950s—but his account also shows that the CPM’s military activities after this date were ineffective and that the party directed most of its lethal force to internal purges of its own members. In the first decade of the insurgency, when it was able to inflict significant damage on the Malayan state and colonial businesses, he is adamant that it received no Chinese funding.147 Because of the lack of a feasible supply route, the supply of arms was never possible. The lack of strong evidence did not prevent both British and leading Malaysian political figures such as the Tunku and Ghazali Shafie from propagating the image of an external Chinese threat.148 Their confident assertions of Chinese hostility and a China-controlled Malayan communist movement continue to be reproduced in Malaysia. The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, for example, describes the formation of Malaysia as motivated not only by recognition that “communist parties were gaining ground in Singapore” but also because the government “learned of a communist plan involving Indonesia and China, whereby the region would be divided between them. An expanded federation that incorporated the Borneo territories would scuttle this plan.”149 No elaboration or evidence of this “plan” is provided, but the claim repeats assertions in Ghazali Shafie’s memoir and may also owe something to Confrontation-era government propaganda as well as Cold War–era western scholarship.150 A more expansive resurrection of the foreign links of the CPM is the claim that the CPM merely changed tactics and is now joined in a unified assemblage of “religious, socialist and communist extremist groups as well as puppets of foreign powers to challenge democracy

146.  Short 2000, 44–49, 315–317. Short explicitly questions the claim that “Chinese communist cadres” were infiltrated into Malaya, which is made in Gene Hanrahan’s 1954 book on the insurgency that the University of Malaya republished in 1971. 147.  Chin 2003, 424–434, 515. 148.  Ghazali was an influential early permanent secretary of the foreign ministry. As home minister in the 1970s he was responsible for the detention of several political opponents on charges of communist subversion. His memoir and collections of his speeches are widely available in Malaysia. For example, Ghazali 1998, 2000. 149.  Zakaria 2006, 42. 150.  Ghazali 1998. The Malaysian government’s case against Indonesia issued in 1964 accuses it of longstanding aims to take over the region, as well as being under communist influence. It is reproduced in Zainuddin 2004. Cold War scholarship that adopts a similar willingness to stretch a little evidence a long way in making the case for Chinese influence, communist aspirations, and enduring Indonesian expansionism includes Sutter 1966 and Gordon 1963/64. Similar work by Justus M. van der Kroef is regularly cited by Southeast Asian foreign policy scholars.

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in this country.”151 Although the idea of an immediate Chinese threat receded significantly after Malaysia’s shift to a nonaligned foreign policy in the 1970s and the establishment of diplomatic relations with China in 1974, the contrast with the United States is telling. It would be impossible now to advertise a presumed Malaysian desire for the United States to take on the role of a protective “angel,” as proclaimed in a headline from 1966.152 But a long record of close bilateral cooperation, including military cooperation, was cited by many interviewees in 2007 as a reason for trusting the United States.153 The principle of nonalignment has been ritualistically repeated in Indonesian foreign policy circles, so post-1965 narratives of Indonesia’s modern history cannot openly consider the United States as a patron or savior. In conversation, however, many Indonesian interviewees cited American anticommunism during the Cold War as a positive factor and considered that “history” demonstrated that the United States was a benign power. One influential member of the Indonesian foreign policy community denied that the United States had played a decisive role in defeating the Indonesian communists (“We dealt with that threat”) but considered the overall impact of the American role in the region to be positive.154 In the version of history related by another adviser and academic, the Vietnam War was necessary as a means of fighting communism, and the United States held the high moral ground in this and other ventures in the region. This was a region, he said, where the second- and third-largest communist parties in the world were operating in China and Indonesia, and communism in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam was part of the regional communist franchise. Suharto’s New Order had thus overcome a very real communist threat, and American support had been critical for the New Order to consolidate.155 China, in contrast, was associated by several interviewees with a much more negative historical role, and many referred to the break in diplomatic relations that came as a result of the change of regime in 1966. As described in a book on the bilateral relationship written by a member of the foreign policy community, influential sections of the Indonesian government—particularly the military— were so wedded to the idea of a hostile and potentially subversive China that relations were not restored until 1990.156 All allegations of Chinese “interference” described in the book—protests at discrimination against ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, support for the PKI, and support of the coup attempt blamed on 151.  Zainuddin 2004, 94. 152.  Reproduced in Mathews 2007, 99. 153.  Najib 2002. 154.  Interview 13. 155.  Interview 12. 156.  Sukma 1999.

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the PKI—are either relatively unremarkable or not credibly substantiated.157 The author does not assess them directly: “The actual nature of China’s involvement is not important for this study. What does matter is that the New Order leadership did believe that China was involved in the coup attempt.”158 This may well be the case, but the text consistently elides the distinction between belief and reality. Other studies of elite perceptions of China confirm that it is widely seen as aggressive and hostile but do not give grounds for thinking that this perception is driven in a straightforward way by Chinese actions. Racial prejudice instilled during the colonial period appears as a more likely factor.159 The idea certainly persists that China was somehow involved in the “G30S/PKI” coup attempt, but it fits an understanding of history as politically driven rumor.160 One serving diplomat was categorical that China had been behind the “communist coup” and pointed to a history of bilateral suspicion and conflict between Indonesia and China.161 Another interviewee initially said that it was clear that China was behind the coup, but then said, “Well, that is according to the government. Actually, I have my doubts, but back then I did believe the propaganda.”162 New Order security policy and rhetoric emphasized domestic rather than external threats in the postindependence era.163 One obvious reason is that Indonesia has faced no major external threat since its independence was recognized in 1949. There is, however, a distinct asymmetry in the way external challenges are remembered. Only two members of the foreign policy community interviewed for this book raised the issue of American subversion against Indonesia in 1958 in response to a question about the historical role played by the United States. One chose to dismiss it: “Unfortunately, some still remember the 1950s.

157.  See Sukma 1999, 24–33, 45–46. By such measures, Indonesia suffered far more interference by western governments, most notably the United States. Other examples given in the text are not substantiated or involve strained interpretations, such as the claim that “suspicions of China’s involvement in the coup were confirmed when its embassy in Jakarta refused to fly its flag at half-mast as a mark of respect for the six army generals and a lieutenant murdered during its course” (1999, 46). The next sentence repeats the contemporary propaganda about a China-armed PKI: “Moreover, it was claimed that China had smuggled weapons into Indonesia to arm the PKI’s ‘Fifth Force.’ ” There is no mention of the anti-PKI propaganda and deliberate disinformation campaigns undertaken by the Indonesian army and western intelligence services. 158.  Sukma 1999, 46. 159.  Suryadinata 1996, 12. An article written to dispel notions of an expansionist Indonesia in the context of Confrontation by former vice president Hatta (1964), widely perceived as a moderate, also provides an example of the apparent respectability of anti-Chinese sentiments. 160.  Most available evidence points in the other direction. As John Roosa argues, “Only solid evidence can outweigh the many reasons for believing that Sukarno and China had nothing to do with plotting for the movement.” Roosa 2006, 277. 161.  Interview 4. 162.  Interview 5. 163.  Anwar 1998; McGregor 2007.

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Personally, I think we should put this behind us. Once the issues associated with Sukarno in the 1960s were over, we had a close relationship because we were anticommunist.”164 Another diplomat apparently failed to recollect the subversion attempt (or the Vietnam War), maintaining that the United States had not interfered militarily in Southeast Asia. When asked why he believed China, in contrast, had a history of aggression, he cited its involvement in the coup attempt of 1965—and Kublai Khan’s attack on Java.165 His use of history is not so unusual. Leo Suryadinata observes: “Indonesians often cite the invasion of Java by Kublai Khan during the Yuan Dynasty (fourteenth century) as an example of Chinese aggression against Indonesia,” and he notes that the event is mentioned in the official “National History of Indonesia.”166 The discrepancy in the treatment of Chinese “interference” compared to American is vast. Contemporary school history textbooks, as a measure of establishment views of what is proper history, make very brief mention of the U.S. support for the regional rebellions that broke out in 1957, at most noting in a sentence or two that support from a “foreign party” had been forthcoming and that an American pilot was shot down.167 One fails to mention the American support entirely. None go into any detail or ascribe any significance or hostile intentions to the United States, even though there is well-documented evidence of an explicit willingness to support the breakup of Indonesia and attempts to influence the goals of the rebel leaders though military and financial support.168 The textbooks do not read into the event any longer-term consequences for Indonesia. While they refer to Chinese “meddling” in Indonesian politics and support for the 30 September coup attempt, they are entirely silent on the extensive American meddling in Indonesian politics, including its very material assistance to the Indonesian army in preparing it to take power in the years leading up to the coup and the months in which Sukarno was ousted between October 1965 and March 1966.169 Perhaps the writers of school history texts cannot be expected to give space to such details. However, one of Indonesia’s leading professional historians presents a history that is remarkably similar in its silences. Taufik Abdullah’s history of nation-building gives a few scattered and brief mentions of CIA support for the rebel governments and does not discuss its significance beyond noting that it “practically erased whatever genuine and sincere intention the PRRI/Permesta

164.  Interview 2. 165.  Interview 4. 166.  Suryadinata 1996, 11–12. 167.  This paragraph covers six textbooks that focus on the postwar period: Alfian et al. 2007; Badrika 2006; Hapsari and Syukur 2008; Matroji 2006; Mustafa 2007; Susanti and Rohman 2008. 168.  Kahin and Kahin 1995; Roosa 2006, 178–181. 169.  As described in chapter 3. See, in particular, Simpson 2008.

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might have had,” strengthened the impetus to pursue a military solution, and dealt “a tremendous ideological blow to the prestige of the PRRI/Permesta.”170 Since the author is sympathetic to the rebel movements, the account effectively blames Sukarno and the PKI for any negative consequences. The book gives no coverage at all to the extensive efforts of the American government and its representatives in Jakarta to steer the course of Indonesian political development in the 1950s and 1960s. A new generation of Indonesian historians may well change this, but they have yet to attain anything like establishment status.171 Establishment histories also obscure the sources of tension between the United States and Indonesia in the pre-1965 period, particularly American hostility to Indonesia’s policy of nonalignment. Indonesia’s doctrine of a “free and active” foreign policy was first enunciated by prime minister and vice president Mohammad Hatta in 1948. At the time it expressed the desire to stay out of the emerging Cold War. As Hatta argued, “The lines of Indonesia’s policy cannot be determined by the bent of the policy of some other country which has its own interest to service.”172 This much is regularly acknowledged, but the challenge to nonalignment from the United States is not. This is particularly noticeable in the treatment of the high point of Indonesia’s nonaligned foreign policy, the AsianAfrican Conference of 1955, generally referred to as the Bandung Conference. The conference was the first powerful statement of “third world” countries, a rejection of the politics of empire and great power domination, and an important entrée for China to establish international linkages.173 The United States at the time was suspicious of neutrality and hostile to the Bandung Conference. This is not, however, the way the event is remembered in most historical accounts.174 Contemporary school textbooks duly cover the Bandung Conference but confine its significance to being a measure of Indonesia’s standing in the world as host to a major international conference. Taufik Abduallah’s history gives the conference all of two pages and offers no elaboration of its goals or the wider international context. The lack of attention to Bandung across the region prompted one historian to ask, “How to account for the failure of either the Bandung Conference or the Bandung Spirit to appear as much more than a quaint footnote in thematic and narrative treatments of the region’s recent past?” The answer, he suggests, lies in the “engagement between China and Southeast Asia at Bandung, in most ways the highlight of the Conference,” combined with

170.  Taufik 2009, 291. 171.  Wardaya 2006, 2009. 172.  Quoted in Taufik 2009, 309. 173.  Ang 2008; Montesano 2008; Wardaya 2005. 174.  An exception is Wardaya 2005.

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“the effective writing both of China and of linkages with China out of the historiography of the region.”175 Sukarno-era foreign policy generally gets a hostile reading in New Order histories. Taufik Abdullah’s history of nation-building sarcastically dismisses Sukarno’s charge of neocolonialism and British interference as a reason for Indonesia’s Confrontation and gives no consideration to competing accounts that make his actions intelligible. Although generally ignoring the Cold War context, he clearly favors one side. A reference to the emergence of “Red China” as a country that “gradually began to change its belligerent posture” is dropped into the text in a paragraph that also states, “In the meantime, Ho Chi Minh had already threatened the French protected South Vietnam.”176 “Red China” appears again in an entirely unelaborated reference to its appearance in narratives about the 30 September movement.177 The chapter on the Cold War in school textbooks presents it as something of an abstraction, divorced from Indonesian history, and the perspective is that of the side “fighting the threat of communism” in Asia and elsewhere. The role of the United States in fighting communism was explicitly invoked in positive terms by many members of the foreign policy community in Indonesia, as in other countries apart from the Philippines and Vietnam.178 Although some Indonesians considered the Vietnam War to have been a mistake, the overall opinion of the historical role played by the United States expressed by most respondents was positive. One, for example, put forward the opinion that, in retrospect, Vietnam did not represent a real threat as the Vietnamese had really been motivated by nationalism. Nonetheless, when asked about the overriding impression of the role played by the United States in history, his first response was “generosity; critical for stability.”179 Thai perceptions of the historical role played by the United States are more mixed and show greater appreciation of the contested history of American involvement in the region. The majority of Thai respondents tended to endorse the Vietnam War and America’s military role in the past, citing their proximity to Vietnam and its invasion of Cambodia as reasons. However, a minority explicitly disagreed, and some were uncertain about the threat posed by Vietnam. Many were also quick to offer criticisms of American actions. One diplomat recalled

175.  Montesano 2008, 209. 176.  Taufik 2009, 309. 177.  Taufik 2009, 340. 178.  Despite some sympathy with the Vietnamese, New Order criticisms of the United States in relation to Vietnam came later, when U.S. rapprochement with China and intransigence over the Cambodian peace process were feared to be strengthening China. Tilman 1987, 73–74, 131. 179.  Interview 13.

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President John F. Kennedy’s inspirational “Ask not” speech but then referred immediately to “dark episodes” that included the war in Indochina and “support of military dictators in South Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia.”180 A former senior diplomat noted the American security role in Thailand and close ties with Thai generals and recalled the turning point of the early 1950s: We had a choice to be neutral or pro-West. We could have turned to socialism, maybe it would have been more civil. . . . If not for the presence of the U.S., there was not much reason for the communists in Thailand to get support from Vietnam. . . . The impact on Thailand can be seen in successive military governments until now. It was a domestic struggle, between liberal and conservative forces after World War II; it is still the same struggle now, although more actors are involved.181 A similar sense of the politically tinged nature of the lessons of history was expressed by Asda Jayanama, a retired ambassador from a prominent diplomatic family: We did very well out of the Vietnam War, we gained U.S. capital, not just R&R spending, and military assistance. . . . So yes, the U.S. saved us from communism. But with hindsight, we were misguided. Maybe the threat was not so much as we thought. We joined the U.S. because Phibun wanted to ingratiate himself with the U.S. [which he did by] gaining royalist support for a coup against Pridi, then pushed the royalists out. Phibun was not accepted by the UK or the U.S. at the time, because he was a war criminal, so he needed to please the U.S. and supported the French over Vietnam, despite advice that Ho Chi Minh was not a danger. . . . Truman was supporting anti-communists and Phibun was on the bandwagon. It was never a unanimous decision of the Thai cabinet. . . . We could have been less anti-communist, but Vietnam’s attack on Cambodia made us even more nervous. . . . They said they only attacked Cambodia and had no interest in Thailand. There was Khmer Rouge provocation. But the domino idea was influential, and a few hundred troops did occupy Thai territory.182

180.  Interview 58. 181.  Interview 60. During the interview he also pointed out positive aspects of the legacy of American involvement in Thailand and noted that he had been educated abroad and thus missed “schooling and indoctrination” in Thailand. 182.  Interview 59. Ambassador Asda noted that his uncle, then a senior diplomat, had been close to Pridi but said that he did not hear about the power struggle behind Thailand’s decision to align

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Another former diplomat, from a military family, initially expressed confidence that, although the United States had made mistakes and had been badly informed, it had made the right decision to get involved in Vietnam: “It was obvious that the Soviet Union was exporting communism to China and various parts of Southeast Asia, and the Chinese were funding communists here. . . . The casualties were real. . . . The U.S. helped slow down communism, and depleted the resources of China and Vietnam. The communists wanted to expand further, but lacked resources. The Chinese funded the CPT’s radio broadcasts, which attacked Thailand, and the monarchy.” However, he then mused: “Was this a cause of the U.S. intervention or the result of it? It can be debated. In my view, Vietnam was not aggressive, but military personnel would always ask about the security risk. . . . At the end of the day, it is never enough. But it is credible that the Vietnamese wanted to take Thai provinces.” American efforts, he said, had been sincere, but they faced an impossible task. In the end, he retained sympathy for those of his father’s generation who had backed the United States: “We have to look back to the 1960s, and work on the basis of what they knew then. The Soviet Union and China were aggressive, their reasoning was that the U.S. would win.”183 Strikingly, given China’s proximity and role in supporting the Thai communist insurgency (far more consequential than in the case of Chinese support to any of the other communist parties in Southeast Asia, apart from Cambodia and Vietnam), Thai respondents mostly played down historical conflict with China. One serving official referred in passing to China as a source of funds for the Thai communists and recalled Thai military casualties. A former diplomat, when asked why he trusted the United States more than China, said that in addition to being a communist country, “maybe it was because in the past China was very aggressive, threatening during the Cold War,” whereas the United States had established its credentials by maintaining its security alliances against communism, including through wars in Korea and Vietnam.184 More often, however, Thai respondents did not see past Chinese support for communism in Thailand or elsewhere as of enduring significance. The historical record is open to interpretation. China cut off its support for the Thai communists in the late 1970s, even though they had taken the Chinese side in the conflict between Vietnam and China.185 Strong Chinese support for Thailand after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia was also

with the United States from his uncle. He is related to a young scholar who has written a revisionist history of the period (Jayanama 2001). At the time of the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, Asda Jayanama was head of the Southeast Asia desk at the foreign ministry. 183.  Interview 61. 184.  Interview 52. 185.  The cutoff of Chinese support was a critical factor leading to the defeat of the Communist Party of Thailand, along with the change in Thai government policy from 1980. Kasian 2003, 250.

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forthcoming, along with cooperation with Thailand, which provided the supply route for Chinese arms to the Khmer Rouge in the 1980s. The pluralism and changes in Thai historiography make the historical record something of a mixed buffet, from which different interpretations can be drawn. In the more conservative—and popular—stream of historical writing, Vietnam and Burma are Thailand’s perennial enemies, and Cambodia and Laos are inferior subordinate states. In the 1950s and 1960s, the virulent anticommunism of Thai military governments included a massive propaganda campaign to dehumanize Chinese and Vietnamese as essentially evil and hostile, thereby justifying Thailand’s close involvement in military actions by the United States in Laos and Vietnam.186 After Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia, foreign policy circles limited their recourse to anti-Chinese imagery and repeatedly invoked historical enmity with Vietnam, based on claims of a history of Vietnamese expansionism.187 Unsurprisingly, what could equally be read as a history of Thai expansionism at the expense of its neighbors was not presented as such. During the period of intense Thai concern about the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia (and doubts about U.S. commitment), Chulalongkorn University published a history of Thai-American relations that warmly recounted extensive American support, including American advisors in the Thai foreign ministry, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.188 The events and personalities in this 1982 history were picked up in a 2004 speech by Thailand’s foreign minister, who extolled “two centuries of partnership” using very similar language.189 The foreign minister also recalled the Cold War alliance with the United States in these terms: “Given our parallel security interests, it seemed only natural for Thailand and the United States to work together to secure peace and security.” The history of counterinsurgency cooperation is also invoked by a retired general who had been one of Thailand’s principal counterinsurgency leaders.190 In a retrospective account, the general writes, “Thailand will never forget that it was U.S. intervention that spared our country from reparations after World War II.” His somewhat nostalgic recollection of the U.S. Military Advisory Group established in the 1950s describes the relationship of the two militaries as “one of brother to brother.” He does, however, sound a note of caution about “over-dependence”

186.  Puangthong Rungswasdisab, one of the younger generation of scholars at Chulalongkorn University, has documented the role of such propaganda and the instrumental uses of “history” to justify Thailand’s Cold War support of American wars in Southeast Asia. I am grateful to her for providing an English synopsis of her Thai-language book on the subject. See also Thongchai 1994, 6–14. 187.  IAS 1985; Rungswasdisab 2004. 188.  Mungkandi and Warren 1982. 189.  Surakiart 2004. 190.  Saiyud 1986.

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and concludes with the warning: “Too much help can smother us, kill initiative and destroy our foundations.”191 These doubts may be related to the political eruption of the 1970s that brought into the open contested understandings of contemporary history. In the words of a later Thai historian, the earlier Marxist historian Jit Phumisak “was influenced by the impact of the West, particularly the building up of the American role in Asia in the 1950s. Therefore his writings are very much concerned with antiimperialism and the collaboration of the Thai ruling class with foreigners.”192 Opposition to American “imperialism”—both its wars in Indochina and its collaboration with Thailand’s military rulers—was a prominent issue for the student activists of the 1970s, whose circles included later Thai historians.193 Even when anxieties about external threats were high in foreign policy circles, a diplomatic voice reflecting on the anti-U.S. protests of the 1970s is measured and in some ways sympathetic.194 The pluralism of national history in the Philippines facilitates both variety and ambivalence in views of the United States. As a group, Filipino interviewees were the most critical of the Cold War role of the United States and few gave any credence to the idea that its wars had protected the Philippines from communism. Several respondents felt that there had been no real need for protection from external threats during the Cold War and some were sympathetic to the argument put forward by the anti-bases movement in the 1980s, that the U.S. bases in the Philippines were useless and provocative. One former diplomat described his attitude as much more critical than the prevailing views in the Department of Foreign Affairs. His views, he said, emerged from his own research for a book on Philippine history, for which he read the memoirs of various nationalist leaders. His first thought when thinking of the United States in the past was, therefore, to think of the betrayal of the national revolution of 1898. On the American actions in the region during the Cold War, he said, “if we look at facts” the conclusion had to be that “if the U.S. had taken Ho Chi Minh’s outstretched hand, history would have been very different. So many lives would have been spared.” The Vietnam War and the subversion against Indonesia had to be seen as mistakes.195 Others linked their view of U.S. actions during the Cold War to the contemporary “war on terror.” One said, “Was the U.S. protecting us from communism? We thought so, that was supposed to be the reason for the Vietnam War . . . the domino theory and all that. But now it is debunked. The 191.  Saiyud 2001, 166–167, 173. 192.  Charnvit 1979, 169. 193.  Ungpakorn 2006, 573. Thai-authored histories of Thailand’s foreign policy are pluralistic. Compare, e.g., Jayanama 2001 and Sutayut 2007. 194.  Sarasin 1982. 195.  Interview 42.

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U.S. is trying now to repeat history, to present us with a fait accompli.”196 Among Filipino historians, relatively positive accounts of the United States in establishment sources sometimes distance themselves from American actions in Vietnam, using phrases such as “ostensibly to stem the tide of the so-called domino theory” and recalling the “devastating bombing” of the country.197 Others lean toward a sympathetic reading of American actions during the Cold War.198 In line with their mixed and generally low-key views about domestic communism, several Filipino respondents were uncertain about the whole anticommunist project of the United States. One observed: “It’s surprising to think of how many major conflicts the U.S. was involved in: World War II, Korea, Vietnam. . . . Really, it was a continuous military presence.” When asked if the U.S. role had been one of protecting the region against communism, the response was firm: “No. They were protecting U.S. interests against the possible effects of the spread of communism. The development of Asia was just a by-product of the U.S. presence, not the U.S. plan. There was a real possibility of turning communist in many countries, but I’m not sure if this would have been a bad thing or not. Look at Vietnam now, it is poor, but is its current position due to communism or decades of conflict?” When asked about the source of his sense of history, he pointed to his student days at the University of the Philippines in the early 1980s, when there was still a radical presence and the anti-Marcos movement was fashionable, which meant being anti-U.S.: “It wasn’t just fashion though: there was a link to the American bases, which overall helped Marcos stay in power and allowed him to focus on internal security and the insurgency. Civil society developed out of the anti-Marcos movement, so it has a left bias.”199 Such views are not confined to academics involved in civil society activities. One former general opined: “The Vietnam War was about oil. I remember the U.S. president’s statement to Congress at the time. Protection from communism was a rationale, like the domino theory. Was it a real threat? There was competition in political systems, but Southeast Asia has many different systems, so how could communism ever be a threat?”200 U.S. actions in relation to the rest of Southeast Asia were not the primary historical theme raised by respondents. Most began with the U.S. relationship with the Philippines and its legacy. This legacy is a major issue in Philippine historiography since the 1970s, when a second wave of nationalist historians led 196.  Interview 39. 197.  For example, Pobre 2005, 5. The author is described in the text as a retired colonel in the AFP who spent much of his career in the Philippine Military Academy. 198.  Jose 1998. 199.  Interview 38. 200.  Interview 40.

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by Renato Constantino led a strong critique against residual American educational influence.201 Historians continue to point to the deep pro-American and sanitizing biases of the history taught during the colonial era and in the early postindependence period. Early postindependence Philippine presidents enthusiastically promoted American-era teaching on the past, in which collaborating Filipino elites were depicted as wise and American rule as beneficent: “The official interpretation of history propagated in public speeches, radio broadcasts, and the school system encouraged the people to remember the American colonial period as a golden age.”202 Rewriting, partly on the basis of competing memories held by survivors of the “insurrection” against the United States, began in the 1950s, but many histories continued to incorporate aspects of the colonial version of the American seizure of the Philippines.203 In the 1970s, Constantino’s call for history “from a Filipino point of view” took a more critical perspective. Similar critiques of American influence on the understanding of Philippine history can be found in materials used by the Foreign Service Institute in the early 1980s.204 More recently, a prominent historian offers a reinterpretation of “benevolent assimilation itself as a mode of warfare.”205 Although the influence of such “assimilation” is widely noted, some popular textbooks continue to call for “gratitude” for the benefits of American colonial rule.206 And there is ambivalence—as well as ambiguity—in some contemporary historical writing. One military historian, for example, writes of the U.S.-Philippine relationship: The special relations, it may be said, are special, because aside from an almost half a century of colonized-colonizer relations between the two countries, both fought side by side against Japan . . . and the USA, in recognition of the Philippines’ full cooperation and loyalty, has given it most-favored-nation treatment upon the latter’s independence. Actually the USA has not given that kind of treatment. But perhaps what makes the relations special is that they of the very kind that naturally develops in a bilateral, small brother–big brother relationship wherein the latter almost always has his way.207

201.  Constantino’s condemnation of American “mis-education” was first published in 1970. It remains widely reproduced and discussed. 202.  Ileto 2005, 227. 203.  Ileto 1999, 32–33. 204.  Jocano n.d. The FSI is the training and research wing of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The primer on history by Jocano is part of a file of training materials. Although undated, other content suggests it was put together in 1980 or 1981. 205.  Ileto 1999, 40. 206.  Zaide and Zaide 2004, 133–138, 237. 207.  Pobre 2005, v.

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Another historian quotes an anthropologist from the University of the Philippines (and daily columnist for a newspaper) as “aptly” summing the American colonial heritage thus: “Our view of the world is shaped by America. . . . As little brown Americans, we often take on [American] ethnocentricism.”208 While perhaps ironic, the use of terms “little brother” and “little brown Americans”— straight from American colonial-era discourses that carried into the early Cold War years—can also be read as marking an ongoing ambivalence about the American legacy. The idea of the United States as a benevolent colonizer still circulates among some members of the foreign policy and security community. A senior military officer described himself as having had positive feelings about the United States when he studied American history in his youth but was “now getting more negative.” American colonization, he said, “robbed us of independence. We had already practically defeated Spain. The U.S. cheated us . . . but they left a positive legacy. . . . The U.S. constitution is a marvelous thing. The U.S. was the only colonizing power which gave its colony its own bill rights within the first decade of rule. Under the U.S. we had autonomy, self-determination, a legislature.” His only complaint was that, after independence “maybe the U.S. did not help our economy very much . . . maybe it is our fault we did not take advantage of the U.S. presence for our own development. The U.S. promoted growth in Japan and other countries. It should have been the same for the Philippines—we were the second most wealthy country in Asia in the 1950s . . . but we failed to get our act together, so the U.S. could not help. . . . We should have kept parity rights for Americans. . . . They did try to help us improve our economy and our military.”209 Other officials held mixed views: “We were lucky to be colonized by U.S., its policy was to push democracy before and after independence. [So] the U.S. legacy was the rise of democracy in the Philippines . . . though we do have reasons for recrimination—look at what happened in Japan and Korea, they had land reform, but the U.S. did not do that here. Instead it played footsies with our oligarchic elites.”210 A retired general noted that the Philippines was colonized by the United States “fortunately or unfortunately” and described his own feelings as mixed, similar to the national “love-hate relationship” with the United States. “But those who have dealt with Americans both officially and informally have a wider perspective. It would have been better not to be colonized, but there was no choice. If not the U.S. then there were other potential colonizers at the time. . . . We cannot change history.” The United States is not a threat, he said, because “we have seen the worst of the U.S. . . . We have a view of American cruelty, so we are not

208.  Evangelista 2005, 16. 209.  Interview 41. 210.  Interview 36.

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awed. So has Vietnam—and they won.”211 In contrast, others mentioned nothing positive about the historical role of the United States. One academic and foreign policy adviser, a strong critic of U.S. foreign policy in the present, began her comments with this statement: “I had concerns about U.S. foreign policy well before 2001! Our colonial history. The U.S. was the architect of our government, our constitution, which does not match the Philippine environment. . . . They gave us military equipment—what the U.S. wanted to discard—and made our military dependent. . . . The U.S. has always been a unilateral power, prone to military adventures.”212 The broad menu of historical interpretation that circulates in the Philippines offers members of the foreign policy community an enormous variety of historical “lessons” involving the United States. While positive interpretations still circulate, Filipino-authored accounts of American aggression, massacres, and misrule are widely available. Books celebrating Filipino resistance to American cruelty during the Philippine-American War and decrying American collusion with a corrupt national elite are easy to find, and their authors sometimes have considerable social status.213 Renato Redentor Constantino’s regular newspaper columns describe the United States as a habitual offender when it came to violating both sovereignty and human rights, linking American aggression in the past to its wars on Iraq and terrorism.214 Historians may continue to cite the 4 July 1946 inaugural address of President Manuel Roxas, when he declared that the safest course for the Philippines on its independence “is in the glistening wake of America, whose sure advance with mighty prow breaks for smaller craft the waves of fear”—but the larger picture appears designed to show how much more “mature” the relationship has become.215 The use of historical reasoning by respondents who expressed comparatively greater levels of distrust of China compared to the United States was much more limited than in Indonesia or Malaysia. A few explained their willingness to trust the United States more using the phrase “better the devil you know.” A senior security official noted that “we are not so comfortable with China, even though they never tried to occupy lands of others, unlike the U.S.”216 Those who were somewhat suspicious of China tended to refer more to its contemporary actions and characteristics rather than raise a history of past support for Philippine communism. One exception cited the historical fear of China in the Philippines as 211.  Interview 40. 212.  Interview 39. 213.  Borrinaga 2003; Grego 2008; Ochosa 1995; Vizmanos 2006. 214.  Constantino 2006 contains an edited collection. 215.  Jose 1998, 407–408. 216.  Interview 37.

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a reason not to trust the country as much as the United States. When asked for elaboration, he cited the “first Chinese invasion” of the Philippines in the sixteenth century, by pirates, as well as the unease created by Chinese migration and “Chinese communists” in the Philippines in the 1950s and 1960s.217 That very few respondents referred to this history, however, is noticeable, given the extent to which suspicion of Chinese support for domestic communism was an issue when Marcos opened diplomatic relations with the PRC in 1975. At the time, the Philippine government sought, and received, an explicit assurance that China would not interfere in the Philippines. A later historian noted that the “Chinese government assurance, however, was not well publicized nor disseminated to the relevant sectors of the government, much less the general public. Most members of the Philippine military top brass opposed diplomatic relations with the PRC in the belief that it would only intensify local communist insurgency. Very few Philippine policy makers believed Chinese assurance of non-intervention in the internal affairs of the country.” His account concluded that “subsequent events proved that those fears were unfounded.”218 Using a logic that is almost the opposite of that employed in Indonesia, the foreign secretary at the time later recalled the recognition of China as a combination of the ideal and the pragmatic: “The ideal was the recognition of the government that was actually in place in the mainland. The pragmatic was we were recognizing them so that they will stop supporting the communist rebellion.”219 Critics of the United States who wished to justify why there is no need for the United States to play a “balancing role” against China were quick to contrast the historical record of the two countries: “China has made mistakes and behaved badly, but not on the massive scale of the U.S.”220

History from the Other Side: Vietnam When asked about the historical role of the United States, most Vietnamese respondents did not initially mention the American war against their country but tended to reach for a positive episode. One former diplomat began by referring to the “strong relations” between the United States and Vietnam during World War II. He described how three American soldiers who had landed in Vietnam after an allied plane had been shot down were taken care of by the Vietnamese in 1945. We should remember, he said, that at the time Ho Chi Minh

217.  Interview 35. 218.  Lim 1998, 249–250. 219.  Raul Manglapus, quoted in Torsedillas 1991, 5. 220.  Interview 39.

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considered the U.S. relationship to be important, as the United States was an ally against the fascists.221 When asked about the war against Vietnam, some simply called it a mistake and were forthright about not wishing to talk about the war.222 “We would like to close the past,” said one former diplomat, staying close to official policy. Others were more forthcoming about the willingness to close the past. One former ambassador—who did immediately mention the American war against Vietnam and also elaborated on the ongoing suffering the war caused— explained that the Vietnamese had a tradition of forgiving their enemies: “We had thirteen wars with China, mostly due to Chinese aggression. But we always look forward, this is our identity.”223 Others echoed this line, with one saying that “there is a Vietnamese tradition of forgiveness. We have suffered so much, fought so many wars, for instance with China, it is bad to keep anger inside.”224 A belief that the United States had recognized and learnt from its mistakes in Vietnam was important for some respondents, suggesting very selective attention to (or knowledge of) the actual postwar debate in the United States.225 A former ambassador said that it was hard for big powers to apologize, but he considered the United States to have learnt its lesson and recognized the mistake it had made. He, like several others, cited Robert McNamara’s memoirs as evidence of American contrition and recognition of its mistakes.226 Other respondents, in addition, cited the American commitment of education funds for Vietnamese and the work of the nongovernmental Indochina Reconciliation Project. Another respondent cited as evidence that the United States had recognized its mistakes a comment by Henry Kissinger: “One Vietnam War is enough for the Americans.”227 Some maintained that the capacity of the United States to learn meant that such mistakes could not be repeated. One scholar, explaining why the United States was not a threat (despite making several negative remarks about its dominant power), said that “history has shown the costs for the U.S. if we are enemies.”228 Although the interviews took place at a time when many commentators elsewhere were drawing parallels between the Iraq War and the Vietnam War, this suggestion was dismissed without elaboration by those who felt that the United States had foresworn foreign aggression as a result of its experience in Vietnam. 221.  Interview 71. 222.  I raised the issue of the U.S. war against Vietnam only in the case of Vietnamese respondents, if they did not mention it on their own. 223.  Interview 72. 224.  Interview 67. 225.  At least two of the postwar American schools of thought on the “lessons” of Vietnam reviewed in Herring 1982 contradict these beliefs. 226.  Interview 71. 227.  Interview 73. 228.  Interview 74.

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Respondents often distinguished between the American government and the American people. Some noted that this is what their own schooling had taught them. One scholar who did not feel that enough had been done by American corporations and government to make reparations to the millions still suffering from the effects of toxic chemicals used during the war also insisted that “the American people are good. . . . They do understand Vietnam’s suffering.” This was part of what made it possible to “set aside” the past even though “we cannot wipe out the past or forget it. . . . We have built museums to help us remember, for our children. There is a Vietnamese saying that we punish guilty people who run away, but not if they come back and admit their mistakes. Many American veterans have come back to admit their mistakes and acknowledge their guilt. This is what makes reconciliation possible.”229 Some respondents made no bones about seeing the United States as “bad guys” and “ugly” in the war. One drew attention to the massive destruction caused by the bombing and the many lives lost. When asked why the war was not immediately mentioned, the response was: People try to forget what they don’t want to remember. So we don’t want to think about the bombs. It really wasn’t the first thing I thought of. Also, Vietnamese are different, [we don’t have] the American resentment of Vietnam, fed by Reagan’s manipulation of public opinion. . . . Our “forgetting” is also helped by our own government’s propaganda during the war, when we were told that it was not the people of America we were fighting, but the military and hawkish interests. They emphasized the strong antiwar movement in the U.S., and people like Jane Fonda and Joan Baez. These were important figures.230 Another emphasized that it wasn’t just propaganda: “We will want to welcome you if you bring good things, like trade and investment. We are too busy building things, our economy, to remember the bad things.”231 Professional training was also cited by two interviewees as a reason for not holding a historical grudge against the United States. One scholar initially described the U.S. role in the region during the Cold War as “containing communism”; when queried about the phrase, he said, “OK, we can say aggression, we can say invasion of Vietnam, the division of Vietnam. Maybe a Vietnamese peasant would say that. . . . I was trained in history, maybe that makes me more detached, I can see things from a political science perspective. This is different from a peasant who would base his view of the United States on his own

229.  Interview 73. 230.  Interview 68. 231.  Interview 66.

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experience of hardship and loss. They are empirically driven, occupied with what they see: how is the weather for planting crops and so on.”232 Similarly, one researcher said in reference to ongoing suspicions of American interference in Vietnam that “for the ordinary people of Vietnam, history counts, although it is fading with the younger generation,” but this is “not the point of view of a scholar.” His own research on the war led him to believe that there had been no real conflict of interest and that the war was a mistaken action by the United States: “Too big a mistake to repeat.” Like several others, he also noted that “the bitterness is not there. . . . We won. . . . This is in accordance with the pattern of Vietnamese history.”233 Rather than yielding the lesson the United States is an aggressive power, “Vietnamese history” was more often invoked as teaching a lesson about China as an expansionist power.234 Seen against a presumed four-thousand-year Vietnamese history, war with the United States was an aberration, a short blip. One analyst noted that in school textbooks, “thirty years of war [with the United States] is mixed up with thousands of years of history with China.” He also pointed to historical television dramas that featured an expansionist China.235 Another respondent explained the greater salience of the Chinese threat compared to an American one on the basis of having had “mostly bad” experiences with China in the past: “Other big powers came and went. China came and stayed.”236 Another painted a starkly negative picture of China, its society, and its actions, contrasting it unfavorably with a (none too flattering) portrait of the United States. When asked how he had learnt about China, he responded: “We have four thousand years of Vietnamese history, two thousand under China. That is how we learn. Our tradition is to be against foreign invaders, and the largest is China. . . . We also remember 1979, when they attacked us even after we had been friends in the fight against the United States. China said it would teach Vietnam a lesson, so that is the lesson we learnt.”237 Many of the themes raised by interviewees from the foreign policy community resonate with written history. The emphasis on underlying complementary interests, with the Vietnam War as a mistake, is a feature of a brief account of U.S.-Vietnam relations written by a scholar at the foreign ministry–linked Institute of International Relations (now the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam).

232.  Interview 65. 233.  Interview 69. 234.  Former officials tended not to mention any country as a source of potential threat and used expressions such as “Vietnam desires good relations with all countries.” 235.  Interview 70. 236.  Interview 65. 237.  Interview 74.

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The account emphasizes that “US hostility toward the DRV did not stem from national animosity or collision of national interests but from a collision of world views and alliance partners.” The United States appears as forced into the war as a result of its global interests and “misjudgments” which are characteristic not of the United States per se but great powers in general.238 Similarly, in foregrounding positive historical interactions with the United States, respondents were in line with a quasi-official diplomatic history that reaches back to the promise of friendly relations in nineteenth-century interactions to set the stage for the normalization of relations in 1995.239 Although this history is very obviously a pro-Vietnamese one, which pulls no punches in describing American actions, it is also generous in presenting American perspectives, rationales, and even feelings, uncritically quoting at several points from McNamara’s memoirs as well as Lyndon Johnson and Henry Kissinger. No such treatment is accorded Chinese actors or sources in the chapters of the book involving Vietnam’s relations with China. Official narratives of national history in Vietnam do not appear to be aimed at exonerating the United States or minimizing the impact of its war against Vietnam. The current school textbook dealing with post-1945 history is largely preoccupied with the war and gives an ample sense of U.S. aggression and the consequent suffering of Vietnamese people.240 But, as some interviewees noted, by placing this episode against centuries of Chinese hostility covered elsewhere in the syllabus, the effect is to make China loom much larger as a threat. The relatively recent “cult of antiquity” promoted in official history thus reinforces images of an ancient Chinese threat.241 The English translation of a national history published by the government’s foreign-language publishing house is pointedly titled Vietnam: A Long History and pushes the beginnings of “Vietnamese history” and “the Vietnamese people” back to the legendary Hung kings “as early as 4,000 years ago.”242 The “unique and vigorous civilization,” however, “was soon to be confronted by a decisive challenge: confrontation with Chinese feudal expansion.” From the Chinese incursion in the first century B.C., popular resistance “marked by armed insurrection against foreign domination” not only was a major force driving Vietnamese history but also “led to the preservation of the Vietnamese people’s identity, the emergence of a national consciousness

238.  Nguyen 1998, 32. 239.  Luu 2006, 479–481. 240.  Phan 2008. 241.  Pelley 2002, 147–156. 242.  Nguyen 2007, 19–20. According to the publisher’s note, the book was written in French and first published in Vietnam in 1976. It received a state prize from the Vietnamese government in 2001 and by 2007 was in its seventh, revised and expanded, edition.

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and the establishment of the independent state of Viet Nam.”243 By virtue of its much longer entanglement with Vietnamese history, China thus emerges as the principal antagonist in current narratives of “history as resistance.”244 Vietnamese invocations of an ancient and persistent “China threat” are understandable and are not limited to Vietnamese historians working under tight official constraints. As historian Bruce Lockhart writes, there is no need to allege paranoia on the part of Vietnamese policymakers when it comes to China, when “almost every single great hero and heroine in the national pantheon got there by fighting invaders from the north.”245 Vietnam has been “repeatedly attacked, invaded, colonized, and annexed.” But elevating a “tradition of resistance to foreign aggression” to the status of “the unchanging principle of the Vietnamese past” was a product of the politically driven historiography of the 1950s and 1960s.246 The inauguration of a new historical research program in the 1950s was explicitly governed by a determination to construct a unified national history in the service of the political imperatives of the day, which stressed national unity as well as an obligatory Marxist-Leninist lens.247 At the time, China was extending massive and critical support in the struggle against the French, who were backed and then supplanted by the United States.248 Disputes with China (and a much greater reliance on Soviet aid) starting in the late 1960s induced “Hanoi to emphasize the historical antagonism between the two countries. It was not accidental that in 1968 the initiative was officially taken to define the image of a Vietnam already formed into a nation state before it was reduced to being a Chinese province for more than ten centuries. . . . After the breakup [between China and Vietnam] was finally effected in 1979, the authorities no longer made the distinction between communist China of today and ancient imperial China. They refer to Peking’s historical determination to rule Asia and accuse the Chinese ‘hegemonists’ of never giving up the desire of attacking and annexing Vietnam.”249 Vestiges of this historiography may account for the extraordinarily limited recognition of Chinese support to the Viet Minh in the wars of resistance against the French and the United States. Luu’s modern diplomatic history does acknowledge Chinese military and other aid as of “very great significance” and details it in one page of text, as an introduction to the chapter on China’s 1979 war against

243.  Nguyen 2007, 23, 35. 244.  Nguyen 1995; Pelley 2002. 245.  Lockhart 2001b, 461–462. 246.  Pelley 1995, 243, 235. 247.  Pelley 2002. 248.  Chen 1993. 249.  Nguyen 1995, 125.

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Vietnam.250 The book also makes a passing reference to Chinese and Soviet support in a chapter on “world people’s solidarity” (more is made of the efforts of Bertrand Russell to inaugurate an international tribunal to judge “U.S. crimes of aggression” and the American antiwar movement).251 Far more of the book is taken up with references to Chinese duplicity, obstruction, and hostility, in particular over the Cambodia issue, in relation to which the role of the United States is only minimally visible. Nguyen’s state-sanctioned “long history” of Vietnam, first written when relations with China were at a low point, does not even mention Chinese military or other aid (other than diplomatic recognition) in its discussion of the Vietnamese victory over the U.S.-backed French forces in the “first war of resistance.”252 The current school textbook only briefly mentions China and Vietnam as having had a strong attachment to each other, having “united to help each other” when Vietnam was fighting the French and the United States, in an introduction to a paragraph on Chinese provocations after 1978 and its attack in 1979.253 Rather than dwell on the significance of Chinese support, historical accounts such as Nguyen’s Long History foreground Vietnam’s nationalism and fighting spirit. According to one analyst, “Researchers in Hanoi maintain that Vietnam’s victory was mainly a triumph of Vietnamese nationalism and for the Vietnamese traditions of fighting mighty foreign invaders for national independence and unification.”254 Recent scholarship contests this construction of Vietnamese nationalism—and indeed “Vietnam” as a nation-state occupying its current territory—and dates the historical emergence of both to a much more recent period.255 Growing attention to the divergent historiographies produced in North and the South in the pre-1975 period may also allow for less unified and more ambivalent reconstructions of the past.256 The official narrative, however, appears to be relatively secure.

Not Counting the Costs: One-Sided History and Its Narrators There are reasonable grounds for debate over aspects of the national narratives discussed here, particularly in terms of the counterfactuals and normative 250.  Luu 2006, 370–371. 251.  Luu 2006, 215–224. 252.  Nguyen 2007, 235–261. 253.  Phan 2008, 170. 254.  Nguyen 1998, 60. 255.  Vu 2007 reviews the evolving debates. 256.  Lockhart 2001a.

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judgments embedded in them. Would Singapore be a worse place to live in had Lee Kuan Yew not wrestled power from the left wing of his own party in the early 1960s? Would the Khmer Rouge have come to power and inflicted such misery on Cambodians without the prior destabilization of Cambodia by American bombing? Do we admit a tradeoff between the improvement in material living standards for millions of Indonesians under Suharto and the hundreds of thousands killed under his watch? The history of Southeast Asia, like that of any place, is replete with empirical and moral uncertainties. The systematic selectivity of mainstream national histories, however, means that these uncertainties are not conveyed. These are not histories that attempt to weigh conflicting evidence, assess counterfactual arguments, or wrestle with uncertainty. Instead they are, as perhaps they must be, one-sided and confident narratives. The sanitization of history underpins the confidence with which judgments about the lessons of history are expressed. Such sanitization is almost unavoidable if history is written to validate the history-makers, as narratives of progress sit uncomfortably with attempts to reckon incommensurable tradeoffs. Actually weighing up the costs in terms of the human suffering of defeated enemies against goods such as “stability” or “development” would fall into the category of “taboo tradeoffs” discussed in chapter 2. Even the attempt to reckon such incommensurable costs and benefits is affectively disturbing and felt to be illegitimate.257 Counterhistories that do dwell on the human costs in terms of the casualties of war and domestic repression thus tend to see history in equally clear, blackand-white terms but with the roles of the contending players reversed. Suharto and the Indonesian army, for example, go from being the saviors of the nation to being a bloody dictatorial regime of which almost nothing good can be said without appearing as an apology for mass murder. The refracted picture of the United States as the New Order’s patron is similarly flipped. The sanitization of the American role in Southeast Asian history, like that of its allies in friendly countries, is in part a product of the selectivity of partisan national history. Thus, for many respondents, only the positive aspects of the U.S. role in the region were mentioned. “Stability. That’s it,” was the pithy pronouncement of one prominent member of the Philippine foreign policy community when asked to sum up the historical role of the United States in the region.258 A former Singaporean senior diplomat confidently stated that the United States was not a threat because it had “never been motivated by aggrandizement. They never tried to capture territory. Their only colony was in the Philippines, which

257.  Fiske and Tetlock 1997; Tetlock 2000. 258.  Interview 33.

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it let go.”259 Many other respondents made similar claims. If they mentioned the colonization of the Philippines at all, it was in passing, as an inconsequential aberration. Even in the Philippines, a senior serving military officer drew as a lesson from history that the United States is “not interested in occupying territory. They are interested in making you free and equal.”260 These judgments make sense only if the casualties of American actions are allowed to fade into relative insignificance. This is the sense in which the “stability” brought by the United States needs to be understood. If not, it would be impossible to sustain the reported consensus view that “since the end of World War II, Southeast Asia has regarded the United States as a security guarantor of the Asia-Pacific and welcomes its forward deployed military presence in the region.”261 The author, one of Singapore’s most experienced and lauded diplomats, cannot be ignorant of the countries and peoples in Southeast Asia that manifestly did not welcome the U.S. presence for the whole of this period. Not ignorance but a moral and political tradeoff lies behind this view of the United States, a tradeoff that reflects the political and social positioning of members of the foreign policy community in Southeast Asia. With the exception of Philippine and Vietnamese respondents, most of those who did mention negative aspects of the historical role of the United States recounted its wars and interventions as apparently bloodless victories. None fully grappled with the magnitude of destruction caused by U.S. policy in its Indochina wars. The bombing of Cambodia was never mentioned, nor was the possibility that it may have played a role in bringing the Khmer Rouge to power.262 None mentioned the bombing of Laos, the direct U.S. support for its Laotian allies’ enforced conscription of child soldiers, or CIA training of security services in South Vietnam and the Philippines in the use of torture.263 Even in the case of the war in Vietnam, while most respondents did mention it as a significant event associated with the United States (only Indonesian respondents were prone to failing to mention it), few chose to mention its human costs. Out of sixtyfour respondents from the noncommunist countries, only seven mentioned the human costs of the conflict or Vietnamese casualties. In addition to the majority view that Vietnam was a defensive war, some respondents cited additional positive aspects of American wars in the region. For one former Singaporean diplomat, U.S. past wars “reinforce the impression of Americans as good. . . . They

259.  Interview 49. 260.  Interview 41. 261.  Koh 2008, 39. 262.  Kiernan 1993; Owen and Kiernan 2007. 263.  McCoy 2002, 2006.

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destroy because of a threat to the status quo. After they win, they help build up, to create new order.”264 He did not identify what rebuilding the United States had done in Vietnam, and a reference to “friends in Cambodia” who were “positive about the U.S., even though the U.S. has caused negative things” left unspecified what these things were. The destructive impact of the U.S. role in Cambodia is difficult for Southeast Asian diplomats to recognize, given their own connivance in U.S. and Chinese efforts to undermine the Vietnam-backed Cambodian government. Ostensibly described as support for the “noncommunist resistance”—a coalition orchestrated by ASEAN and the United States to avoid the obscenity of direct support for the Khmer Rouge­—the policy strengthened the position of the Khmer Rouge and added to the hardships faced by Cambodians.265 ASEAN’s complicity is probably the reason that none of the many criticisms leveled against China included its support for the Khmer Rouge.266 A reappraisal is difficult, noted one younger member of the Singaporean foreign policy community who admitted to uncertainty about whether Vietnam had posed a real threat: “But for older Singaporeans, they were faced with what they saw as a real communist threat. . . . Tommy Koh, Dhanabalan, others of that generation, they lived through it, they had to act on the Vietnam-Cambodia issue . . . and they have to justify themselves.”267 The Singaporean foreign minister offered a retrospective justification that fails to mention the human costs of the ASEAN policy and emphasizes the need for “principled” opposition to the violation of Cambodian sovereignty. The moral standpoint is that “it is the responsibility of a people to determine who and how they be governed” rather than a foreign state.268 The gaping contradiction with Singapore’s acquiescence to the Indonesian annexation of East Timor is not addressed, nor is the feasibility of “the people” of Cambodia to cast off a regime that had reduced the population by about two million through starvation, slaughter, and refugee exodus. A Thai scholar provides evidence of a similar erasure of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge and the implications of Thailand’s role in the 1980s.269 A substantial minority of respondents did see the Vietnam War as a mistake, a failure of the Americans to recognize that they were fighting Vietnamese nationalism. This mistake, however, was often glossed over or excused on the grounds 264.  Interview 48. 265.  Haas 1991; Pilger 2004b. 266.  Vietnamese histories are an exception. Luu 2006 gives explicit, critical attention to this support. 267.  Interview 44. Tommy Koh was the lead diplomat involved in orchestrating support for the ASEAN position against Vietnam (in support of the “Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea”) at the UN in the 1980s. Dhanabalan was Singapore’s foreign minister. 268.  Dhanabalan 2005, 42. 269.  Rungswasdisab 2004.

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that the United States and its supporters had sincerely believed in the rightness of their actions at the time or had been poorly informed.270 Even if true, a leap of faith is required to conclude that a country that can make mistakes of this magnitude is unlikely to do again. This, however, was the inference that most of those who saw the Vietnam War as a mistake seemed to make. A similarly forgiving and forgetful attitude can be found even in relation to U.S. actions closer to home. The lengthy history of modern Indonesia produced by senior historian Taufik Abdullah does not only, as noted above, give minimal attention to the U.S. policy of subversion, it also never mentions its extent or explicitly attributes any deaths to it. The closest mention is the passive voice observation that “bloodshed could not be avoided and the suffering of civilians could not be avoided” and “several hundreds lost their lives” during the affair.271 Indonesian school textbooks similarly do not mention the loss of Indonesian lives due to U.S. actions. Mainstream history in the Philippines, in contrast, is more mixed in this respect. There may be a degree of erasure of the PhilippineAmerican War, particularly its brutality, that colors Philippine attitudes in the present. One historian explains Philippine support for the U.S. war on Iraq as being due to “not just poverty or pragmatism” but also “the effects of a century of manipulation or reshaping of collective memories about our past wars.”272 On the other hand, as described above, many widely available books do record the brutality of the war, the use of torture, and scorched-earth policies and contest the supposed beneficence of American rule. The sanitization of the U.S. historical record extends to (or, more likely, begins with) the records of its allies in Southeast Asia. National histories that present the victory of ruling parties over “communists” as self-evidently positive fail to mention the human costs borne by the defeated. Some interviewees—mostly Thai or Filipino—spoke unfavorably of the U.S. role in supporting repressive regimes in Southeast Asia, but a far greater number did not mention this aspect of the U.S. postwar presence. The casualties of these regimes, when mentioned, were the price of stability. “Every cup of tea has some poison,” observed one Indonesian.273 Even the more pluralistic rendering of national history in the Philippines includes accounts that gloss over the unpleasant details of defeating leftist movements and opponents of martial law. Agoncillo’s textbook, while not demonizing the Huk rebellion, nonetheless presents a sanitized history of the uprising and the

270.  Lack of information as an explanation is contested by some U.S. historians. Kolko 2004. 271.  Taufik 2009, 283, 300. Over seven hundred lives were lost in one bombing raid on a city. Roosa 2006, 181. 272.  Ileto 2005, 231. 273.  Interview 10.

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counterinsurgency, with no mention of deaths, torture, or other brutality in the fight against the Huks, who are described as having been won over by President Ramon Magsaysay’s “policy of attraction.” His chapter on Marcos’s “New Society” is silent on its abuses, with the military portrayed as behaving “in an exemplary manner” to earn its position as the “friend and protector of the people.”274 One academic insisted, “You can’t hold the U.S. responsible for Marcos. That was a ploy of the communist party.”275 Overall, he believed, the American legacy was positive for the Philippines, although “of course those on the left would disagree.” Acknowledgment that another perspective is possible is mostly absent from Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean establishment histories. Not only do the dominant narratives fail to engage with their more marginalized critics, they also do not allow for the possibility that defeated opponents might, even if wrong, merit some sympathy. The idea that members of the CPM who died during the Emergency might be counted as fellow nationals is entirely absent from the dominant Malaysian histories. Most do not record the number of communists killed, and, like the Singaporean histories, they do not count the number of those imprisoned without trial on political grounds. They give no space for regret about lives destroyed or convey any sense that the response might have been disproportionate to the threat. Such ideas constitute the major thrust of revisionist histories that are encroaching on establishment narratives but are still relatively marginal. Indonesian school textbooks necessarily say nothing about American support for the mass killings that brought the New Order to power, because these killings go completely unmentioned, even in editions circulating as late as 2009. Going by the history books, the only killings that took place were those of the military officers killed on the night of 30 September 1965.276 Indonesia’s senior historian not only fails to give any sense that the United States encouraged the military takeover of government and the mass killings, he also gives almost no attention to the killings themselves or the mass arrests, torture, and lengthy imprisonment of suspected leftists. A passing reference to Indonesia’s “most traumatic human tragedy in modern history” somehow associated with the change of regime goes unexplained. The only elaboration is given three pages later: “The ‘cursed night’ of 30 September was not only the time when several high-ranking officers were abducted and murdered, it was also the moment when the hitherto suppressed sources of social and political ills were unleashed. The long concealed sources

274.  Agoncillo 2006, 236–237, 247–248. The book first appeared in 1974, during the martial law years. 275.  Interview 35. 276.  Farid 2005.

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of social-economic conflict suddenly broke loose. The idealized sphere of social harmony changed its face overnight—that was the time of massive killings which took place here and there.”277 No identifiable person, social group, or organization perpetrated the uncounted killings, they just happened. In fact, while the army instigated, orchestrated, and carried out many of the killings, the involvement of civilian groups—particularly members of the largest Muslim organization—was extensive.278 The supporters of the New Order at this pivotal moment, including student groups and many intellectuals, however, are clearly the actors that enjoy the author’s sympathy. He implicitly exonerates their role in bringing the army to power by characterizing the early New Order as filled with idealism, an “Indian summer” in which intellectual freedom and democratic life flowered before the “long cold winter of authoritarian rule took over.”279 That half a million of his countrymen and women had been killed, a million more imprisoned in inhumane conditions, and countless others intimidated into silence apparently escapes memory. Thai histories have begun to give sympathetic space to the defeated left. Nonetheless, some of the least palatable parts of its defeat have been obscured. The government order allowing for the arbitrary detention and reeducation of those deemed sympathetic to communism after the 1976 coup has received little attention.280 And the emotive events surrounding the massacre of students at Thammasat University that preceded the October 1976 coup have largely been avoided until recently. Thus Thongchai Winichakul notes that after the massacre, there was silence about it for the next twenty years. When mentioned, “vague or cryptic descriptions were the norm”—only some student literature dealt more extensively with the massacre.281 Rong Syamandanda’s History of Thailand, written in the tradition of nationalist-royalist history, simply stops the story of Thai history in the middle of 1976, despite the publication of a fourth edition in 1981. A memorial gathering in 1996 was the first public commemoration to honor those who died in the Thammasat massacre of 1976. Thongchai observes that the memorial allowed the massacre to be “recognised correctly for the first time as a crime of the Thai state against its people.” However, facing the event fully might be “literally unthinkable for Thai society, since several individuals and institutions, which command power and respect in the society, might have been involved in the killing.” Most difficult of all to face was the role of members of the 277.  Taufik 2009, 350, 353. The mass killings of alleged communists, unlike the murders of six generals, are not referred to in the book as a tragedy. 278.  Kammen and McGregor forthcoming; McGregor 2009. 279.  Taufik 2009, 356. 280.  Haberkorn 2007, 304–306. 281.  Thongchai 2002, 245.

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royal family and monkhood in setting the conditions and pretext for the killings. The roles of the Border Patrol Police and the mobilization of the Village Scouts were also difficult to investigate, given their royal patronage. There is also the ongoing difficulty, he argues, of inserting the concept of state crime into the narrative of Thai history, when the “master narrative of Thai history also contains the theme of an ever-advancing country, development and progress are always implied.”282

Conclusions: History and Evidence To the extent that a single historical narrative dominates the rendering of national history, the “information”—facts and normative interpretations—to which members of the foreign policy community have ready access is unevenly distributed in favor of accounts that paint ruling parties and regimes in a positive light. Not only is such information more widely available than evidence in revisionist accounts (except in the Philippines), it carries the imprimatur of social and political authority, which is likely to increase its credibility to political insiders. Of course, those who see themselves as occupying outsider roles are likely to view the self-serving national histories produced under fairly obvious political influence with cynicism. However, although some members of the foreign policy community describe themselves as mavericks, their views on history by and large conform with the major currents of historical thought within their country. Members of the foreign policy community, by definition, have elected to occupy “insider” roles. This chapter has argued that the “lessons of history” that resonate in foreign policy circles have a strong connection with the depiction of domestic and external threats in establishment accounts of the past. National histories that paint stark images of a domestic communist threat lend themselves to beliefs that the United States played a broadly positive role during the Cold War. These beliefs are then enlisted in identifications of foreign friends and foes in the present. Portrayals of the domestic communist threat and the threat posed by China vary more with the social and political circumstances of history production than the quality or credibility of evidence. The Communist Party of Thailand, to give just one example, was vastly more dependent on China than the Indonesian communist party, the PKI. The CPT was also engaged in an armed insurgency that did claim many lives. The PKI, in contrast, was a legal political organization that was

282.  Thongchai 2002, 245–246, 249–250, 264.

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almost entirely unarmed. These differences bear no relation at all to contemporary portrayals of communism and China in Thailand and Indonesia. The remembered histories that circulate in Southeast Asian policy establishments reflect the outcomes of domestic political contests. The victors were able, to varying degrees, to ensure that their version of history would prevail. Defeated opponents have reason to contest a view of history bathed in the rosy glow of a benign American imperium, regardless of the merits of any counterfactual history of what would have happened otherwise. When asked whether post-2001 U.S. foreign policy represented a turning point or aberration, the two groups of respondents who were most likely to disagree were those from Vietnam and the Philippines. Not only are these the two countries that have faced the United States as military adversaries, they are also the two in which the losing side of the great Cold War ideological and political rift continues to have a real presence. The other side of history involving the United States is much more visible within the Philippine and Vietnamese nationalist mainstreams than in other countries of Southeast Asia. In terms of models of belief formation and maintenance, we can say that members of the foreign policy community in the Philippines, Vietnam, and to some extent Thailand have greater access to bundles of information that paint the United States as a destructive power rather than a benign hegemon.

5 Professional Expertise “We never really stopped to analyze. . . .” —Asda Jayanama, former Thai Ambassador

Members of the foreign policy community in Southeast Asia explain their beliefs about American power by drawing on their professional expertise as a source of evidence and interpretive schema. Professional expertise can thus be thought of as a set of cues that influence beliefs. Foreign policy professionals have good reasons to attend to such cues, reasons that go beyond self-interest or political expedience. The idea that professional advisers modify their advice according to what they perceive their clients or superiors want to hear enjoys considerable currency. However, it is difficult to pin down this process, and evidence that powerholders have sometimes found it necessary to ignore or manipulate the advice they receive suggests that professional experts do not always stick to what is politically expedient.1 When it comes to foundational foreign policy beliefs about the United States and the role it plays in the region, foreign policy professionals in Southeast Asia are rarely faced with this kind of dilemma. This is neither a serendipitous coincidence nor the consequence of an unusual willingness to forgo self-interest on the part of Southeast Asian policymakers. Rather, the lack of tension between professional expertise and political expedience can be traced to conditions that obscure the political nature of policymaker perspectives. The first of these conditions is the defeat and silencing of the political left (or right, in the case of Vietnam) since the 1960s or earlier, which made

1.  Jervis 2010, 131–136; Kolko 2004.

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possible a redrawing of political categories to place defeated political claimants as illegitimate, leaving the victors an apparently uncontested national canvas onto which to write their own platform. However, this is clearly not the full story. In the Philippines and Thailand, there has been debate about the wisdom of the U.S. alliance, yet much of what is taken as “professional expertise” is not identified as politically driven. Perhaps the most important reason for this sense of depoliticized expertise is that the mechanisms for generating and reproducing professional knowledge, although politically anchored, involve processes that are more obviously consensual, persuasive, and social than political. One departure point for examining these processes is to examine the metacognitive statements of foreign policy professionals: the reasons they give for espousing a particular belief. Their statements often point to the importance of social mechanisms of learning, such as absorbing received wisdom in professional circles. Several respondents conceded that they had never seriously considered, let alone evaluated, competing beliefs. This mode of learning is not necessarily irrational at all—it is likely to be an efficient way of arriving at a functional set of beliefs, as “prevailing wisdom” can be a proxy for actual wisdom.2 However, this process of learning by authority and social exposure is not the same as actively reasoning, weighing up competing claims, and attempting to marshal evidence for and against contending propositions. Other influences on beliefs identified by respondents included the information environment within which they operated and their own personal affective ties and attitudes. A second approach to understanding how “professional expertise” functions to favor certain beliefs is through a survey of the epistemic environment. This chapter thus looks at the information most available to foreign policy professionals to assess the frequency and prominence of either negative or positive information about the United States. Is it the case, as some respondents claimed, that the information environment they are exposed to exhibits a pro-U.S. bias? Examining the epistemic environment also allows one to develop a picture of what constitutes acceptable modes of reasoning. How are beliefs generated and tested? What kind of procedures for gathering and evaluating evidence are considered appropriate? Several indicators suggest that acceptable modes of reasoning in foreign policy circles have strong belief-confirming biases. Reasoning processes are less often designed to test the accuracy of a proposition than to validate it.

2.  Preslin and Wood 2005.

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Professional Beliefs Given the worldwide controversy over American foreign policy in the years between 2002 and 2008, it is not surprising that many members of the foreign policy community criticized the United States in this period. Statements by leaders in Southeast Asia on American actions such as its war on Iraq ranged from the warmly supportive, in the case of Singapore, to frank condemnation, in the case of Malaysia and Indonesia. Elite opinion in Southeast Asia thus covered a wide spectrum of beliefs and attitudes. Singaporean foreign minister George Yeo, at one end of the spectrum, retrospectively concluded, “Whatever others might say of the previous administration, from our perspective, U.S. policy on East and South-east Asia under President George W. Bush was constructive and good for the region.”3 Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, in contrast, joined a group of civil society activists in calling for the prosecution of American and British leaders for war crimes.4 Despite covering a similar spectrum of opinion, members of the foreign policy community interviewed between 2007 and 2009 tended to focus their criticisms on just a few aspects of U.S. foreign policy.5 The disjuncture with attitudes among the general public was especially striking in the case of Indonesian foreign policy practitioners, who were less critical of the United States than Indonesians in general.6 Filipino respondents, in contrast, were more likely to hold negative views than the general population.7 There were respondents, particularly in Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, who condemned the U.S. war in Iraq, an overmilitarized strategy in the “war on terror,” the doctrine of preemptive war, and the human rights abuses associated with U.S. policies of rendition and detention, but a greater number across the region as a whole did not give these issues much attention. Often, the unilateralism of American policy was criticized more than the policy itself, with several saying, for example, that the American invasion of Iraq would have been acceptable if it had received UN endorsement. Several contentious aspects of U.S. policy were criticized by only a small minority of respondents: U.S. obstruction of global climate change negotiations, for example, was mentioned by only six interviewees; only one criticized U.S. nuclear weapons policy and missile defense plans; and only two criticized U.S. trade policy or domestic agricultural subsidies.

3.  Quoted in Weekend Today (Singapore), 7–8 February 2009. 4.  Beh 2007; Fauwaz 2007. 5.  I conducted interviews with seventy-four members of the foreign policy community. See the appendix for summary details. 6.  Bowen 2007 discusses shifts in Indonesian public opinion regarding the United States. Negative opinions peaked at 85% of those polled in 2003. 7.  Abinales 2006.

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This may be an unrepresentative sample, and respondents may not have mentioned an issue simply due to time constraints or diplomatic circumspection. Nonetheless, other accounts reinforce this picture of generally favorable views of the United States.8 Further, members of the foreign policy community are not consistently shy of criticizing the United States. The American policies that they have denounced include U.S. criticism of their human rights records (a reason given by several for why the George W. Bush administration was better than its intrusive predecessor), pressure for “over-rapid” economic liberalization, sanctions against military-ruled Myanmar, perceived neglect of Southeast Asia, and less generous public diplomacy and aid than in the past.9 The indirect nature of other criticisms is noticeable. In an eighteen-page summary of Southeast Asian views of the United States in 2004, when global public opinion on U.S. foreign policy was at its most negative, only seven lines referred obliquely to “disquiet in the region at some aspects of U.S. policy. This is particularly true of its doctrine of pre-emptive strikes and the apparent disregard for the multilateral institutions.” This is followed by the observation that “the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the pre-emptive war against Iraq, and the situation in Iraq have attracted considerable criticism against the U.S. in Indonesia and elsewhere in the region.”10 This is consonant with a tendency to see U.S. foreign policy as predominantly a Muslim problem, with Muslim sentiment “complicating” bilateral relations as governments were “pressured by the ground”—with the advice to the United States to brush up on its public diplomacy, “to ensure you earn the goodwill you deserve.”11 The prevailing professional wisdom was that irritation with the United States or moral qualms about its policies should not impede bilateral relations. The greatest obstacle to increased cooperation stemmed not from strategic concerns about a unilateral and aggressive United States but from elite-level calculations of public opinion.12 Underpinning this orientation are the foundational beliefs that American power is fundamentally benign and that an American presence in the region is necessary for stability and prosperity.13 Although there is heterogeneity within the foreign policy community, four times as many respondents judged the United States to play a necessary role in the ensuring stability as compared to the number who felt that the United States was not necessary in this respect.14

  8.  Goh 2005; Khong 2004; Mauzy and Job 2007.   9.  Chan 2005b, 96–97; Kausikan 1993; Mahbubani 2005, 2008. 10.  Koh 2004, 39–40. 11.  Chan 2005b, 97–98; Goh 2005, 192. 12.  Acharya 2005; Capie 2004; Khadijah 2003. 13.  Koh 1993, 2004, 2008; Yamamoto et al. 2001. 14.  Fifty-two respondents considered the United States necessary in this respect; thirteen disagreed. The others were either equivocal or did not answer the question directly.

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The belief that American power is, at the very least, not threatening or destabilizing was even more widespread. Only nine considered it to be destabilizing or potentially threatening.15 And only three respondents unequivocally considered the United States to be a potential threat or source of instability, compared to fifty-two who stated that the United States is either not a potential threat or is significantly less threatening than any alternative hegemonic power. The most commonly cited reason for why the U.S. presence in the region is necessary was the claim that it is needed to “balance” against China, although most took care to note that China is not a current threat. In a statement made in 2002, when he was Singapore’s deputy prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong asserted, “Politically and strategically, the U.S. is the only realistic player which can balance China.”16 Lee Kuan Yew, still a cabinet member, continues to hold this opinion, stating in a speech in 2009 that the United States would be “the sole superpower for two or three more decades despite the fallout from last year’s global crisis. . . . Beijing is neither willing nor ready to take on equal responsibility for managing the international system. . . . The size of China makes it impossible for the rest of Asia, including Japan and India, to match it in weight and capacity in about 20 to 30 years. So we need America to strike a balance.”17 Although rejected by some, the belief that the United States is needed to balance China was expressed by respondents in each Southeast Asian country. One Vietnamese respondent explained that “it’s like the bad guy is freed because we have a worse guy to deal with.”18 Another prefixed the explanation for why Vietnam wished to see an American security presence in the region with the observation that ASEAN wished to see the United States remain committed to the region, citing the widely reported concerns of the original ASEAN members in the early post– Cold War period about whether the United States would remain. When asked why this should apply to Vietnam, the response was that Vietnam held this view “as a member of ASEAN” and that it needed the United States to balance China.19

15.  Other respondents were not clear on this point, including a relatively high proportion of Vietnamese interviewees. Even if their noncommittal answers are interpreted to mean that they considered the United States to be at least potentially destabilizing, this remained a minority view in the sample as a whole. 16.  Lee 2002. 17.  Quoted in Straits Times, 29 October 2009. The news report, which carried a picture of Lee Kuan Yew and Henry Kissinger embracing, continued: “A stellar cast of the U.S. capital’s political and business heavyweights turned out to honour [Lee Kuan Yew], including three U.S. Presidents who sent messages in writing or via video . . . images of former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush were projected on giant screens as they paid tribute to Mr. Lee. . . . Two long-time friends—elder statesmen Dr. Henry Kissinger and Dr. George Shultz—also flew into the capital for the dinner.” 18.  Interview 69. 19.  Interview 67.

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The idea that a bipolar balance of power is stabilizing has a long heritage in international relations scholarship, but the assertion that American military engagement in Asia produces a balance is peculiar.20 Not only does American military capacity dwarf that of any other power, it has also repeatedly and explicitly laid claim to exercising a preponderance of power in the region.21 It would be uncomfortable for Southeast Asian leaders to admit openly to a preference for American predominance, given official proclamations of nonalignment and independence. Singaporean leaders are exceptional in calling so openly for the United States to play a “balancing” role.22 Their preferences, however, resonate quite widely in Southeast Asian foreign policy circles. One Indonesian official stated that “although we wouldn’t say so openly,” Indonesia was actually glad to see Singapore take the lead in this respect, as it would be politically uncomfortable for Indonesian leaders to do so.23 Several Malaysian respondents noted that it was necessary to discount some of the public rhetoric of leaders such as Mahathir and pay attention to Malaysia’s actual record of military and other cooperation with the United States as well as the willingness of many Malaysian leaders to extend a warm welcome in private to controversial U.S. officials such as Paul Wolfowitz.24 No one wishes to live with U.S. “dominance” in the sense of being dictated to, but a strategic predominance of power exercised by the United States appears to be the preference of many.25 Identifying the U.S. role as providing a “balance” offers a way of presenting the status quo in palatable terms. When queried about the term balance, respondents all agreed that the status quo actually represented an imbalance of power in favor of the United States. Many also pointed out that this did not mean that the United States always gets what it wants. “America needs us too” was a widespread sentiment. Despite acknowledging an actual imbalance in power, especially military power, only a small minority considered the United States to be a potential threat. Even if the views of those who were somewhat tentative in considering the United States a potential threat or source of instability are taken to mean that they do consider it

20.  Inconsistent use of the terms balancing and balance of power by policymakers and scholars is widespread. See Haas 1953 for an early statement and Nexon 2009 for a recent discussion. 21.  This does not prevent claims such as the following: “America’s security presence has ensured that Southeast Asia has not been dominated by any one power; a core objective of U.S. security strategy in the region.” Koh 2008, 39. 22.  Lee Kuan Yew frequently asserts that the United States has played an essential, stabilizing role as a security guarantor since World War II. He claims that there is a need to maintain a “balance between the United States and Japan on one side and China on the other” and is silent on the imbalance of military power in this arrangement. Lee 2000, 762. 23.  Interview 2. 24.  Interviews 21, 22, 25, and 28. 25.  This is consistent with the findings of other analyses. See, e.g., Goh 2005; Khong 2004.

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a potential threat, nearly six times as many respondents made unequivocal statements that the United States is either not threatening or, at a minimum, much less threatening than alternative great powers on the horizon. Respondents gave a varied set of reasons for seeing the United States as (at least in relative terms) a benign hegemonic power. One of the simplest was to downgrade the importance of discrepant information. Thus many compartmentalized what they judged to be destabilizing actions of the United States, maintaining, for example, that while the American “war on terror” was misguided and had probably worsened the terrorist threat, overall the United States played a stabilizing role. The belief that American foreign policy in the 2002–08 period was an aberration facilitated this conclusion. Only among Filipino and Vietnamese respondents did a majority disagree with the idea that this period marked a fundamental departure from the norm for American foreign policy behavior. A second line of argument, as discussed in chapter 4, was to point to history for evidence that the United States is a stabilizing, nonaggressive power, relegating actions such as the Vietnam War (if it was seen as a mistake at all) to marginal relevance. A third reason raised by several respondents was the geographic distance of the United States from Asia. Finally, many referred to domestic checks and balances in the American system of democracy, often in conjunction with references to the good intentions and war-averse nature of the American population. Even in the case of respondents from Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam, countries that have often been at odds with the United States on issues relating to the interpretation of democracy, many claimed that the nature of American democracy made it a relatively nonaggressive country and one that was capable of self-correction. These causal arguments all circulate widely in parts of the world. Respondents who cited them were presenting “reasoned” beliefs that enjoy considerable— albeit far from uncontested—status. As with the use of history to validate beliefs about the nature of the United States, however, these arguments require taking a perspective on both the present and the past that is highly positional and selective. First, it is clear that China—the most frequently cited source of potential future instability or uncertainty—is held to a different standard than the United States, both in terms of current policy and past actions. Second, the basis for implicitly weighing different historical episodes unequally—postwar economic largesse, for example, trumping the bombing of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam— is left unspoken. Other inconsistencies were left unresolved by interviewees or were resolved through further selective reasoning. Many who cited history, geography, or the restraints of the democratic system as reasons for seeing the United States as a benign power had, earlier in the interview, criticized post-2001 U.S. foreign policy for the decision to wage war without the authorization of the UN (in a

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region just as geographically distant from the United States as East Asia), human rights abuses, and other breaches of international law. Besides treating these episodes as aberrational, some respondents cited them as examples of how American democracy is capable of self-correcting policy errors over time and is thus “overall” prone to lawful action. One Vietnamese academic, for example, made the claim that democracies are more peaceful, transparent, and less war-prone due to internal checks and balances, despite noting earlier in the interview many features of American policy that did not conform to this generalization. Vietnam’s own experience was relatively marginalized, with the side comment that Vietnam had had “not-so-good experiences with U.S. . . . but that was in context of the Cold War.”26 Similarly, a respondent from the Philippines explained why the United States was not a threatening power because of its universal values of equality, liberty, and fairness: “The American people are ultimately fair, and this is a constraint on government over the long term.” China, in contrast, could not be trusted in the same way.27 A Singaporean diplomat, citing the force of democratic principles and institutions, concluded that “at the end of the day, it is the American people who will say that Guantanamo was wrong. . . . It would not be so if it was run by China or India.”28 At one level, the proposition that the United States will eventually self-correct its errors is almost irrefutable. Whether this is at all relevant for understanding the potential consequences of U.S. power depends on how much one cares about what happens before “self-correction” takes effect. Those who contest the assessment of the United States as a particularly benign power weigh episodes and incidents involving the United States differently. Within the foreign policy community, Filipino respondents were most likely to express the belief that the United States is potentially threatening and destabilizing. A significant minority of Malaysians too, especially those most critical of the United States in the contemporary period, dismissed the idea that the United States is needed to balance China or any other country, and some argued that it was the United States that was more destabilizing. One brusquely asked, “What has China done in the last hundred years? Are they the country that has colonized, invaded, tortured all around the world?”29 Several Vietnamese respondents more circumspectly rejected the idea that the United States was necessarily a stabilizing power. One Vietnamese scholar observed that there was a need for other (unspecified) states to maintain a balance against the United States.30 Another

26.  Interview 65. 27.  Interview 33. 28.  Interview 46. 29.  Interview 22. 30.  Interview 74.

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noted that “balance with too much ambition can be imbalance” and that if the United States pursued “hegemonistic ideas” in the region, “people in the region know how to unite.”31 One mentioned as a potential threat the possibility that the United States would use its economic power as leverage against Vietnam, and several regarded the United States as potentially destabilizing on domestic issues such as human rights and religion.32 These voices appear to represent a minority stream of opinion in foreign policy circles, but they also draw on arguments and narrative images of the United States as a destructive power that circulate widely outside of those circles.33 These lines of reasoning enjoy no less of an intellectual lineage than images of the United States as a benign hegemon. A politically neutral assessment of which set of beliefs about the United States is more accurate is not attempted here. Rather, my argument is that a concern with externally verifiable accuracy is not the most plausible reason why members of the foreign policy community hold certain foundational beliefs about the United States. Beliefs are not necessarily the product of attempts to weigh competing evidence and examine alternative arguments. The mechanisms by which “professional expertise” is constructed and disseminated mean that it is more plausible to see foundational beliefs as reflecting relatively “unthought” responses to an epistemic environment that remains biased toward a positive assessment of the strategic role of the United States.

Routines, Information Exposure, and Reasoning in Professional Settings Identifiable aspects of the professional foreign policy environment make it more likely that core beliefs about the United States are absorbed despite, not because of, their degree of externally verifiable accuracy. First, professionals face strong incentives to work within the parameters of official policy. Most activity focuses on policy implementation, and discussion is largely limited to questions of how to implement policy, not whether the policy itself—let alone its underlying assumptions—is appropriate. Organizational hierarchy, time pressures, and rewards for compliance reinforce incentives to accept fundamental policy orientations. These incentives are related to a second type of influence on belief formation 31.  Interview 73. 32.  Interviews 67, 74, and 71. 33.  Southeast Asian perspectives are provided in Ahnaf 2006; Beeson 2006; Budianta 2007; Chang 2005a, 2005b. The case for seeing the United States as destructive and aggressive power has been made across a range of diverse intellectual approaches, some secular, others informed by religious perspectives. For example, Ali 2002; Blum 2001; Johnson 2000, 2004, 2006; Sardar and Davies 2003.

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in foreign policy settings: the sheer availability of “information” that provides evidence for the correctness of official policy. This information is generated through the work process itself, in the form of countless memoranda, official statements, speeches, and file notes. The third feature of the professional environment that is likely to influence belief formation involves standards for evaluating information and generating knowledge. The nature of many core beliefs means that they are rarely subject to unambiguous “corrective feedback,” probably the most common mechanism bringing beliefs into line with external validity measures.34 In addition, the feedback that is most readily available to members of the foreign policy community supports belief-confirming modes of hypothesis testing.

Routine Learning Evidence of the degree to which official policy sets the parameters of professional expertise is fragmented, but many respondents pointed to the impact of policy and government priorities. The first response of one Singaporean former senior diplomat to the question of why he did not consider the United States a potential threat was to cite an “instinctive” preference for the status quo.35 He went on to say that Southeast Asian countries (apparently with the exception of Singapore) were not strong states and did not have strong governing systems that operated on the basis of societal consensus and common purpose. “So the governments of the day resort to the only strategy they know, to find a big brother to help them stay in power.”36 A retired Thai ambassador who had been chief of the Southeast Asia desk in the Thai foreign ministry at the time Vietnam invaded Cambodia said that the “domino theory” had been an influential analogy enlisted to support beliefs of a Vietnamese threat to Thailand. He also noted: We never really stopped to analyze. The interpretation was that they are coming to Bangkok. I only began to have an opinion later. At the time, I was too close to have an opinion, and in any case would have been overruled by the military. I had no reason to argue, and it would have been impossible anyway. I would have been considered a traitor.37 This does not appear to be abnormal. Most accounts show that senior political leaders set the direction of foreign policy and initiate change. Thus in the case

34.  See the discussion in chapter 2. 35.  Interview 48. 36.  The United States, he believed, was a benign and idealistic power that did not challenge the status quo, at least not in a crude way. 37.  Interview 59.

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of Malaysia, for example, one former politician, editor, and politically appointed ambassador said, “The PM sets the policy. Wisma Putra [the Malaysian foreign ministry] fine-tunes and advises on how to implement it. Maybe they have a greater role with a weak prime minister.”38 New initiatives in Malaysian foreign policy all emanated from the political leadership.39 Prime Minister Tun Razak was thus able to lead the change in policy to recognize China in 1974, at a time when, according to one Malaysian diplomat, “it was unthinkable . . . for any Malaysian even to suggest a dialogue with the PRC let alone undertake such a major policy initiative to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing.”40 Once initiated, however, the policy was then rapidly absorbed as the only sensible course of action for Malaysia, with several solid reasons put forward for recognition.41 Political control does not preclude active involvement on the part of professional advisers, but their advice is almost always offered within the framework set by politically determined policy goals. One foreign affairs adviser and academic in the Philippines asserted that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) did not develop policy but tended to “echo Malacanang,” the presidential palace. In her view, “DFA people are intelligent, but the system swallows them, tells them not to think.”42 Officials themselves generally consider that they are thinking. A former senior Filipino diplomat argued that DFA had at times been active and influential in policy formulation.43 Even in Malaysia under the dominating leadership of Prime Minister Mahathir, officials said that Mahathir listened to his advisers and sometimes gave them latitude to exercise discretion. They also emphasized, however, that Mahathir had his own ideas and was responsible for the big initiatives of Malaysia’s foreign policy.44 Policy becomes something that the foreign policy professional is required to learn, to fine-tune, to implement, and to defend. Diplomatic memoirs frequently refer to engaging with senior political figures in order to understand their job priorities.45 Of course, professionals in foreign ministries do not always accept policy initiatives as correct. The Thai foreign ministry, for example, disagreed with the decision to orient Thailand decisively toward the United States early in the Cold War, and “maverick” political leaders such as Thaksin Shinawatra and Mahathir have often caused some resentment for what their officials consider

38.  Interview 14. 39.  Dhillon 2009; Jeshurun 2007; Saravanamuttu 1983, 2010. 40.  Kumaraseri 2004, 237. 41.  Zakaria 2006. 42.  Interview 39. 43.  Interview 42. 44.  Interviews 25 and 26. 45.  For example, Tan 2000, 207.

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ill-considered actions or statements.46 According to one former Malaysian ambassador, after Mahathir resigned as prime minister, his successor called all heads of mission in for a conference and heard from one adviser that Malaysian foreign policy needed a change in style, an end to “megaphone diplomacy,” and a more conciliatory tone, especially with rich countries that are economic partners.47 Similarly, a critique of Thai foreign policy under Thaksin by a former Thai diplomat dwells much on political intrusion into foreign ministry staffing matters, in addition to objecting to Thaksin’s instrumental use of foreign policy for personal gain.48 Foreign ministries have more often accepted the worldviews and priorities of the government as naturalized policy goals. This occurs not through top-down coercive imposition but through routine interaction between officials and policymakers. A former permanent secretary of the Singaporean foreign ministry (currently Singapore’s president) recalls that the prime minister and foreign minister disregarded formal hierarchy and “resorted to dealing directly with individual officers whom I suspect they considered capable of speedily carrying out their instructions. I was one of those they so instructed. They gave me instruction on the information they needed and the lines to take in drafting the messages or responses to communications they were addressing. . . . By working with them directly I became more aware of their concerns.” He also recalls acting as note-taker for ministers and writes, “From that experience I was better able to grasp and handle—on my own—many politically sensitive matters that needed addressing in the Ministry’s day to day work. . . . I was able to draft for Ministerial approval TPNs [Third Party Notes] with the minimum of guidance, using the background knowledge I had gathered witnessing such conversations.”49 Professionals often learn the policy goals of senior politicians through interaction and appear to internalize them as uncontested “national interests.” One Malaysian diplomat’s account of Malaysia’s “national interests” on foreign policy issues presents the policy goals of successive Malaysian governments, with no discussion of the potential conflicts of interest, value tradeoffs, or means-ends uncertainties surrounding this policy constellation.50 Diplomatic memoirs provide plentiful examples of this apparently reflexive assumption that the diplomat’s work in promoting national policy goals is a matter of defending national interests. A Singaporean diplomat, for example, reports successfully defending

46.  Jayanama 2001; Jeshurun 2007. 47.  Interview 25. See also Jeshurun 2007, 301, 311. 48.  Pavin 2010. 49.  Nathan 2005, 14–15. 50.  Kumaraseri 2004, 95–143.

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Singapore’s “developing country” status in the 1990s; a Malaysian diplomat recounts deflecting pressure for compulsory labeling of tropical forest products as a matter of protecting “vital interests.”51 It is every bureaucrat’s job to act on the instructions of the political leadership, and many make the point that a diplomat’s duty is to “keep out of politics” and to represent faithfully the “mood and thinking of his country (and not his own, if it differs).”52 Thus even if it is a matter of defending President Marcos against unflattering foreign press coverage or the invasion of another country, a foreign policy professional can see this as correct and constitutional. A Filipino diplomat recalls learning from a colleague “the first rule in bureaucracy: the boss, like the customer, is always right.”53 Private opinions to the contrary are of course a possibility, but self-selection and habitual focus on the job at hand mean that a naturalized acceptance of official policy appears to be more typical. When officials prepare cabinet papers, official correspondence, and speeches, they are required to “think like” the political leaders they are writing for. One Filipino diplomat describes how the injunction “Speak like the President!” was conveyed to him when he was a junior officer as a guide to drafting official speeches.54 Similarly, a former Malaysian diplomat recalled how new entrants to the foreign ministry are trained to “think like policymakers” as part of their professional formation.55 In a memoir, a diplomat recalls, “Whenever I ran out of ideas in preparing talking points or speeches I would just simply imagine I was the Prime Minister or the Minister. Somehow ideas would just flow into my mind.”56 Members of the foreign policy community frequently mentioned the ideas of political leaders as influential. Long-serving senior officials also create and disseminate a store of professional knowledge within foreign ministries. One serving diplomat described the foreign ministry as “a great crucible” that instilled a sense of itself in its staff.57 Dominant individuals such as Ghazali Shafie in Malaysia, S. R. Nathan in Singapore, and Ali Alatas in Indonesia—or simply the ambassador an officer first served under—are often cited as role models. One Malaysian diplomat writes of his early years in the foreign ministry: “Practically all the senior officers tried to be carbon copies of King Ghaz (the affectionate name of Tun Ghazali Shafie) and they would yell, scream and call us names whenever we did not live up to

51.  Kesavapany 2005, 196; Tan 2000, 193–194. 52.  Tan 2000, 99; Zaide 2004, 111. 53.  Zaide 2004, 145. 54.  Borja 1999, 88. 55.  Interview 25. 56.  Mokhtar 2006, 288. 57.  Interview 46.

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their expectations. Some even threw files into our face. That was the tradition in Wisma Putra then. The seniors had high expectations of the new recruits. They also tried to brow-beat us to see who would break first. However it did not take me long to appreciate the sense of professionalism in them.”58 Many accounts note the involvement of senior officials in the daily work of their subordinates, intensively criticizing and correcting them. Many Malaysian diplomats refer to the institution of “morning prayers”—daily meetings at which officials would gather to be “grilled” on their own work as well as briefed on the activities of other departments and—once a week after cabinet meetings—the concerns of the government.59 Singapore’s former permanent secretary of foreign affairs, S. R. Nathan, also recounts instituting “morning prayers” as a means of imbuing officials with the standards required by top policymakers and an appreciation of the issues facing Singapore, in an attempt to end the habitual passive passing of files across desks.60 Other officers have noted the intensive criticism they were subject to when working under S. R. Nathan, one recalling, “He often tore apart our analysis mercilessly and was always finding fault with how we put forward our views.”61 In almost all cases, the recollection of criticism is accompanied with a note of appreciation for the professional expertise instilled through it. Rounds of correction by senior officers do not need to be harsh to leave their mark. The kind of on-the-job training that foreign policy professionals go through involves rounds of drafting, correcting, and rewriting memos, correspondence, and other paperwork, with previous examples serving as templates to be “recycled.”62 The products end up in “the file”—the written vehicle for transmitting institutional perspectives in almost all bureaucracies. The file on a particular topic is literally a physical file (or set of files) containing the ministry’s record of that subject: cables from missions abroad, copies of internal and external correspondence, notes and other reports, organized in chronological order. Standard practice on assuming a new posting abroad, an assignment to a new desk or a request to provide a briefing is to “read the file” as a store of institutional knowledge.63 The sense of being dictated to is not necessarily a feature of how the process works. An authoritarian top-down style can be resented as autocratic, as can overt political meddling in internal matters.64 The development of formalized training systems serves to institutionalize the process of instilling expertise,

58.  Mokhtar 2006, 285. 59.  Kumaraseri 2004, 266–267; Tan 2000, 32; Yusof 2005, 55–56. 60.  Nathan 2005, 17–20. 61.  Anderson 2009, 8. 62.  Borja 1999, 85–91. 63.  For example, Mokhtar 2006, 287. 64.  For example, Kumaraseri 2004, 312; Reyes 1995.

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making it something learnt as a matter of professional formation, rather than imposed.65 Many retired officials spoke of how, in their time, the foreign ministry valued officials who spoke up and offered independent opinions, but many also implied that organizational culture later tended toward conformity and currying favor.66 Proffered examples of “speaking up,” taking the initiative, and “getting things done” independently, however, are in the nature of relatively small refinements to diplomatic style, internal management, or house-keeping.67 For professionals in foreign ministries, policy orientations recede into the background in the face of daily routines, protocol, and the core processes of diplomacy: maintaining communications, developing contacts, and attending to the material side of hosting visiting officials or business delegations. Indeed, if the content of diplomatic memoirs is any indication, it is these activities that dominate the work of professional diplomats, especially when posted abroad.68 When covering work-related issues, memoirs typically relate in great detail the procedures for the presentation of credentials, the turnout of Commonwealth or ASEAN ambassadors to greet a new ambassador, the level of representation at which the host country attends national day receptions, and the logistics of arranging visits from home country delegations. Pride is also expressed in the ability bestowed by diplomatic training to craft speeches and communiqués, even on subjects the author might know next to nothing about.69 Diplomatic expertise emerges as essentially a matter of fluent communication, managing relationships, and mastering protocol, not engaging in strategic assessment of the policy choices of one’s own country. To the extent that substantive issues are a matter of concern, for most officials most of the time it is developments within the country that an official is covering that are the focus of active inquiry, with home country priorities defining the degree of interest in particular issues. With a few notable exceptions, most diplomatic memoirs leave the impression that mastering the processes of diplomatic communication is the job. One Malaysian diplomat writes, “More than in any other profession, the diplomatic spouse plays a commendable and, in most instances, an indistinguishable role to that of her husband.”70 Scenes of tension and anxiety relate to logistical and protocol issues: relief at an event having gone off without a hitch, worries over

65.  Borja 1999; Kumaraseri 2004. 66.  Interviews 25 and 26. See also Mathews 2005. 67.  For example, Yusof 2006, 170. 68.  The memoirs on which this section draws are Borja 1999; Loeis 2004; Mahayuddin 1999; Reyes 1995; Tan 2000; Yusof 2005; Zaide 2004; and the shorter recollections of thirty-one Malaysians in Fauziah ed. 2006 and fifty-three Singaporeans in Koh and Chang 2005, 2009. 69.  For example, Mahayuddin 1999, 85–96. 70.  Tan 2000, 219.

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securing an appropriate level of audience or itinerary for a visiting prime minister or president, and gaffes involving flags, titles, or names. This attitude can extend up the chain of command. A Malaysian foreign minister, for example, describes addressing the UN Security Council as “my most nerve-wracking experience” but says absolutely nothing of the substance of the meeting or his address, merely that U.S. President Bill Clinton gave him a thumbs-up sign and praised him. He also recounts hosting the Organization of the Islamic Conference Summit in 2003 as an “important event that stuck in my mind”—but apparently mainly for the logistical challenge involved. He writes, “Once we took on the responsibility we went through every minute detail covering all aspects of the management and organisation of the meeting. We did a dry run, from the cuisine to the motorcades and cultural show. Nearer the day, Dr. Mahathir came to see whether everything was in order. Even the drivers and Personal Security Officers were given training on how they should fulfill their tasks, including the use of appropriate deodorant. As I had anticipated, the meeting was well-organised. Everything went smoothly and the delegates had nothing but praise for Malaysia. Everyone was happy.”71 Nothing in the account gives even a hint of the substance of the meeting.72 Preoccupation with the trivia of daily routine is sometimes openly acknowledged. One account by a former diplomat describes his resolution to convince Morocco, the host country of his posting, to open a mission in Kuala Lumpur. He notes that it was, in retrospect, “ridiculous” to be “obsessed with such a mundane thing. But that was the way my mind worked back then.”73 A Filipino diplomat describes a chance meeting in 1981 with Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, the opposition politician whose assassination in 1983 galvanized the anti-Marcos movement: “I understood Ninoy’s reserve. Between us yawned not only time past but the abyss of the martial law years, during which he was the chief victim while I stood on the sidelines, preoccupied with mundane things.”74 More often, diplomats write with a great deal of earnestness in describing their efforts in organizational, managerial, and protocol matters and take pains to explain why protocol and personal relationships matter.75

71.  Hamid 2005, 8. 72.  The reader would not learn, therefore, that this OIC meeting was taken up with the U.S. war in Iraq or that Malaysia’s prime minister used it as a platform for denouncing the war. 73.  Mahayuddin 2006, 149–150. The entry describes the task at length, despite the note that “it was indeed foolish to be so unnecessarily obsessed with such a petty matter. . . . Nevertheless, that was the way it was for me at the time” (2006, 152). 74.  Reyes 1995, 118. During the martial law years, the diplomat had served as his country’s Permanent Representative to the UN and Ambassador in Beijing. 75.  Borja 1999; Chan 2005a; Ridzwan 2005; K. S. Tan 2000; K. J. Tan 2005.

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Information The relative accessibility of positive information about the United States was noted explicitly by a Malaysian former official and chairman of a leading Malaysian think tank who also pointed to the very strong friendly relations that the United States had with many countries in the region. As he pondered the issue of why he had said initially that the United States was not a threat, he said, “Actually, if you look at statements coming from the United States, their policy papers like the Quadrennial Defense Review, and if you replaced ‘United States’ with ‘Russia’ or ‘China,’ then you would say this is country is pursuing hegemonic policies that do not serve regional security and stability well. It’s all about primacy, preeminence, no one is allowed to come close in capacity. That would be considered threatening, but because it is the U.S., people say it is OK.” When invited to ask why this belief prevailed, in addition to mentioning actual media coverage, affect, and social factors, his first response was, “The CNN effect. It also includes print media like the Asian Wall Street Journal. If something is repeated enough, you believe it. So we hear they are the good guys so often, and some other countries ‘bad,’ it becomes ingrained, you never think to question it.”76 Some members of the foreign policy community do have reason to question this belief. A former Malaysian ambassador who happened to be posted to Tripoli a few days before the American bombing of the city in 1986 writes that dealing with the fear of family members and witnessing the destructive aftermath “gave a vivid and lasting impression of the brutality of the attack.” His account explicitly condemns the immorality of the U.S. bombing, which is presented as a vengeful act of reprisal that inflicted a hundred mostly civilian deaths for the deaths of two Americans.77 Based on a review of the memoirs of former diplomats, however, information that might produce this sense of injustice and outrage is noticeably absent. There is also an apparent readiness to read available information in a U.S.-friendly way. Another Malaysian diplomat, for example, cites estimates of the numbers of dead attributable to Saddam Hussein at two million people, a figure that includes the death toll from the Iran-Iraq War, the invasion of Kuwait, internal repression, and the approximately five hundred thousand Iraqi children who died due to the post-1991 sanctions regime.78 While the author does not condone the 2003 invasion of the Iraq, this accounting of the dead is

76.  Interview 16. Although he rejected the need for the United States to “balance” China because China had yet to prove itself a threat to the region and would likely pose problems only with regard to territorial disputes, he also observed that “you hear the need for the U.S. as a military balance so often, it is repeated so frequently as the obvious truth, but it is not really thought-out.” 77.  Hasmy 2006, 234–236. 78.  Ahmad Fuzi 2006, 200.

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extraordinary in the sense that it does not do what many western critics of U.S. policy have done, which is to place responsibility for many of those deaths on the United States as a supporter of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War and the lead enforcer of the sanctions regime.79 The chances of individual experience matter, but the policy orientation of a diplomat’s country exerts a more systematic influence on the relative accessibility of positive information about the United States. Although much foreign policy activity is routine, policy forms the background for professional work and affects the information environment foreign policy professionals are exposed to. Major policy realignments, such as Indonesia’s delayed reestablishment of diplomatic relations with China, can be surrounded by vigorous internal debate.80 However, because most policy decisions and priorities are set at the political level, not within the bureaucracy (and because most policy implementation is routine), there is not likely to be an extensive flow of internal documentation that obviously lends itself to conclusions that contradict open policy statements.81 Indeed, a large part of the process of “doing” foreign policy consists of engaging in the production of justifications for policy choices for both internal and external consumption. Foreign policy professionals are thus heavily exposed to precisely the information that validates policy decisions and orientations. The issues that defined a ministry’s work during pivotal episodes allow some insight on this exposure. Countering Indonesia’s Confrontation of Malaysia, for example, became the formative event for the Malaysian foreign ministry. The rapid expansion in its representative missions abroad during Confrontation was intended to win diplomatic support through establishing bilateral relations and a multilateral presence, particularly among nonaligned countries.82 The early generation of Malaysian diplomats saw their task as responding to Indonesian propaganda: “through trial and error” becoming “quite efficient in the ways and means of propaganda and counter-propaganda. We learned to appreciate that propaganda and counter-propaganda were actually very important tools of diplomacy.”83 Despite the use of the term propaganda, there is no suggestion in any Malaysian memoir of an interpretation of Confrontation that deviates from the official policy line at the time. A similar appreciation of diplomacy exists in 79.  Pilger 2004. 80.  Sukma 1999. 81.  This does not preclude a critical reading of internal sources. Colonial archives, for example, have been productively mined in revisionist accounts. However, such histories are critiques of the generations of historians who adopted the perspectives of colonial authority on the basis of immersion in archival material that naturalizes the priorities and worldview of its authors. The classic study remains Said 1978. See also Guha 2001. 82.  Kumaraseri 2004, 150–159, 179. 83.  Zainal 2006, 19.

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Singapore foreign policy circles, where former foreign minister S. Rajaratnam remains recognized for his political communication skills honed as a newsman and politician and where countering Indonesian propaganda during Confrontation is also described as part of the “baptism of fire” experienced by the first generation of officials.84 One retired diplomat noted explicitly that Rajaratnam was an important intellectual influence and mentor, “because he had fought the left in Singapore, he knew the value of propaganda, how to diplomatically contest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia.”85 Many retired officials refer to material produced for propaganda purposes as authoritative sources on an issue. Ghazali Shafie’s memoir, for example, which deals extensively with Indonesia’s Confrontation, repeats the deeply anticommunist Confrontation-era “counter-propaganda” of the Malaysian government, much of which Ghazali himself had been responsible for overseeing. His retrospective writings and official statements from the time remain uncritically cited by later generations of Malaysian diplomats and others and seem to have passed uncontentiously into the mainstream of foreign policy knowledge in Malaysia.86 Similarly, a retrospective account by a long-serving Indonesian foreign minister and former diplomat, Ali Alatas, is largely informed by the same language and evidence with which he defended Indonesia’s policy while in office.87 Although one retired Indonesian ambassador referred to Alatas as “defending the indefensible” with respect to East Timor, in other cases the impact of a career spent immersed in a ministry tasked with defending official policy seems to be lasting.88 One retired Indonesian diplomat’s memoir, despite being written well after the end of the New Order, gives no sense of revisiting any aspect of official policy. In the case of three events that have become focal points for criticism of Indonesia—the attempted coup of 1965, the “act of free choice” by which West Papua’s absorption into Indonesia was formally sealed, and Indonesia’s invasion and occupation of East Timor—the book limits itself to describing the author’s role in defending Indonesia’s interests by ensuring that “correct” information was provided to the outside world, to counter the “one-sided” or “misinformed” allegations of critics.89 Although clearly aware of the criticisms leveled at Indonesia, at least in the case of the West Papua “referendum” and the invasion of East Timor, at no point is there any engagement with these criticisms. The retrospective account sticks to the formula laid down when distributing “correct” 84.  Nathan 2005, 10. 85.  Interview 43. 86.  Ghazali 1998; Kumaraseri 2004, 135; Zainuddin 2004. 87.  Alatas 2001, 2006. 88.  Interview 1. 89.  Loeis 2004, 58, 102, 111–112.

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information was a job requirement. As he notes, he informed himself about events such as the “G30S/PKI” (on which he cites the New Order’s official report) because as a diplomat it was important to inform foreigners who might ask questions “about what actually happened. . . . One of the first duties of an information officer is to build a positive image of the country abroad, while clearly explaining foreign policy in an accurate way.”90 A concern to disseminate “correct” information and promote favorable media coverage is recorded as an uncontentious part of the job in several memoirs.91 One account details the intensive process involved, scanning the foreign media daily and generating responses to reports that represented the country, its industries, or its businesspeople unfavorably. The responses, of course, are predicated on the correctness of current policy and the accuracy of the official correction issued.92 Although issuing rebuttals to media coverage is the task of information officers, all diplomatic representatives are in a sense information officers whose job is to relay the official line. As one former ambassador notes, “Being a spokesman for the Embassy merely meant relaying information which had been pre-cleared and evading speculative questions which might damage bilateral relations.”93 The most obvious bias in the information environment is in favor of information that validates official policies, which is much more abundant and available than information that would unsettle or call into question official priorities. Such information environments, however, like national histories written to justify the position of ruling elites, also paint a refracted picture of the United States. Officials dealing with the United States in bilateral settings may well recall fractious disputes, and these episodes provide readily available information for assessments of the United States as arrogant and irritating. However, on the larger issue of whether the United States is a benign regional power, the information environment in countries traditionally friendly toward the United States is tilted in ways that bear out assessments of the United States as “overall” a benign player. There is, on the one hand, the positive record, laid down in long-term, repeated interactions involving material aid, technical assistance, scholarships, and educational exchanges as well as bilateral cooperation on a wide range of other issues.94 In contrast, information that speaks against an assessment of the United States as particularly benign occupies a very minimal place in the information environment.

90.  Loeis 2004, 147. 91.  Reyes 1995, 27, 53–56; Zaide 2004, 80–85, 92. 92.  Nafisah 2006. 93.  Fauziah 2006, 265. 94.  As covered in chapter 3.

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Information about the aggressive and destructive aspects of the United States role in the region tends to be forgotten, in the words of one Malaysian respondent, “because it is not relevant to us.”95 Full-length memoirs of diplomatic careers give strikingly little or even no attention to the U.S. war in Vietnam, bombing of Laos and Cambodia, subversion attempts of the 1950s, or support for repressive governments.96 Even a former diplomat who provides a vivid portrait of his undergraduate years in Australia in the 1960s at a time of “tremendous changes and upheaval” in which he gained awareness of the “great movements that were taking place in the United States, Asia, Europe and the Soviet Union” and was affected by protest singers such as Joan Baez fails to mention American policies in Southeast Asia in connection with these movements.97 The Vietnam War gets only a passing mention elsewhere in the book, despite the author’s two postings to Hanoi. A Malaysian respondent who had paid an official visit to Saigon as a junior official in the early 1970s claimed to have been “unaware at the time” of the deeply contested legitimacy of the South Vietnamese government or the controversy surrounding the American role in maintaining it. As a young diplomat then, he said, he never had any reason to give such issues any thought.98 Opposition to the war is in fact cited by a retired Malaysian diplomat as a reason for declining a posting to Saigon.99 However, another former diplomat maintained that such critical views were uncommon in the Malaysian foreign ministry at the time.100 There is no sense of Saigon being a controversial posting conveyed in the account of a Malaysian diplomat sent there in the 1970s and he clearly gave no thought to the precarious position of the government after the withdrawal of American troops in 1973.101 A Singapore diplomat who joined the foreign ministry in the 1960s maintained that he had not paid much attention to the Vietnam issue at the time, there not having been much about it in the newspapers as far as he could recall.102 American actions in Cambodia and Laos are mentioned even less often, even in accounts that deal at length with the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. Again testifying to the relative salience of the information most immediately available through the official policy line and diplomatic contacts, even the diplomat who considered himself a critic of the U.S. war in Vietnam gives an account of

  95.  Interview 14.   96.  Loeis 2004; Reyes 1995; Zaide 2004.   97.  Yusof 2005, 25.   98.  Interview 21.   99.  Tan 2000, 34. 100.  Interview 25. 101.  Abdul 2006, 51–56. 102.  Interview 46.

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Vietnam’s intervention in Cambodia that closely follows the official ASEAN script: it is silent on Vietnamese concerns and makes no mention of the U.S. bombing of Cambodia. This script also mirrors the Khmer Rouge case against Vietnam, which in the case of this diplomat would have been available through what he describes as a warm personal relationship with his counterpart from Democratic Kampuchea, who was also posted to Hanoi in the late 1970s.103 The commitment to ASEAN as a foreign policy priority also produces a refracted picture of the United States, albeit one marked by the ostensible absence of the United States. After ASEAN was founded in 1967, its member states officially put the regional association at the center of their foreign policies.104 Although ASEAN’s primary goal was to promote intramural confidence and restraint, ASEAN became associated with the idea of nonalignment and regional independence. ASEAN declared the region to be a “Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality” (ZOPFAN) in 1971, and individual members (with the exception of Indonesia) moved to open up relations with China.105 Policy statements from this period make frequent references to “non-alignment” and “equidistance” in relation to the great powers as principles of foreign policy, and these continue to be cited by foreign policy professionals and policymakers as well as scholars.106 This policy stance has allowed for self-understandings that obscure the strong hand of the United States in helping to ensure that the currents of neutralism circulating in the region from the 1940s would be blocked. Aspirations for genuine independence and a region free of intrusion by external powers were forcefully articulated at this time by leaders such as India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Burma’s Aung San, and Indonesia’s Sukarno.107 The founders of ASEAN, however, were neither the progenitors nor the intellectual heirs of this tradition. Thailand and the Philippines were in open alliance with the United States, and the proximate condition for ASEAN’s formation was the removal from power of the region’s defiant spokesman for independence, Sukarno, along with the defeat of the left in the countries that formed the regional association. As noted by one historian, “For all its Southeast Asian roots, ASEAN initially represented the formalisation of Washington’s vision of the region, of a Southeast Asia walled off from China.”108

103.  Tan 2000, 50–51. 104.  For example, Anwar 1994. 105.  Singapore’s policy was to wait until Indonesia reestablished diplomatic relations with China (which did not occur until 1990), but it pursued trade and other relations with China starting in the 1970s. 106.  Examples include Alatas 2001; Kumaraseri 2004; Lee 2000; Lim 1998; Saravanamuttu 1983; Zakaria 2006. 107.  Acharya 2009, 37–58. 108.  Montesano 2008, 207.

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The deep satisfaction with which Washington saw the defeat of the left, particularly the change of regime in Indonesia, and the consequent establishment of ASEAN cannot be recognized too bluntly without calling into question the entire historical narrative surrounding the defeat of the left and the rise to power of anticommunist ruling parties described in chapter 4. Nonalignment is the foreign policy correlate of the domestic repositioning of categories by which leftist contenders for power become subversive elements and anticommunist ruling powers move to occupy the nationalist center. Thus ASEAN, instead of being seen as the vehicle by which a group of often hyperbolically anticommunist regimes sought to reassure each other, becomes associated with aspirations for independence and neutrality. One Indonesian foreign policy adviser who had been involved in drafting Suharto’s 1966 speech on an “integrated Southeast Asia”—often seen as a step toward the formation of ASEAN—described the Indonesian policy elite at the time as aiming to pursue a regional association and restore relations with the United States in order to “veer back to the middle, because we had been too far to the left.” He saw ASEAN as a mechanism for Indonesia to get out of the “mess” caused by Sukarno. “ASEAN was only anti-communist later, then it was just about getting together.”109 This conception may well be genuine, but a vision that sees New Order Indonesia as having veered “back to the middle” ignores the massive asymmetry in Indonesian foreign relations: a refusal even to maintain diplomatic relations with China while allowing intimate ties with western aid sources that reached deep into Indonesian government offices. Similarly, a Filipino diplomat (and former secretary general of ASEAN) saw ASEAN as a “broader, less ideological group” than the failed Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), which he described as a “narrowly conceived anticommunist” initiative comprising Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.110 A perspective that sees the inclusion of obsessively anticommunist Indonesia and Singapore as qualifying the group as “less ideological” would surely be rejected by those on the political left in Singapore and Indonesia who had just been comprehensively defeated. The depiction of ASEAN as nonaligned does, however, appear to be representative of self-understandings of foreign policy professionals immersed in the production and reproduction of foreign policy statements. With this selfunderstanding, the friendly stance taken toward ASEAN by the United States

109.  Interview 3. The respondent also said that Suharto’s “integrated Southeast Asia” speech had its origins in army-run seminars that brought together academics, political actors, and officials. Described elsewhere, these seminars set out many of the tenets of military-led developmentalism put into practice in the New Order and supported from the early 1960s by the United States. Simpson 2008. 110.  Reyes 1995, 48.

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provides evidence of benevolence bestowed by a benign great power, not friendship tendered on the basis of largely fitting with U.S. designs for the region.

News Exposure Members of the foreign policy community are not limited to in-house information; they also access news coverage in open media sources. With the caveat that the interview pool may well not be representative, a clear characteristic of this group was regular exposure to American news media as well as other sources that, from a comparative perspective, are relatively U.S.-positive. A breakdown of self-reported news consumption by respondents in the interview pool shows that, after local news sources (72 percent), three American newspapers were the most frequently identified regular source of news: 61 percent of respondents reported reading the New York Times, the Washington Post, or, most commonly, the International Herald Tribune (which carried content from both papers until 2003, thereafter from the New York Times only) at least once a week, with many saying they read one of these papers daily. An Asian edition of the International Herald Tribune is printed in Singapore, and its circulation in five Southeast Asian countries is just over 23,000, concentrated in Singapore and Thailand.111 The paper also targets distribution in places of higher education, with free copies often available in universities in the region. Only Vietnamese respondents, as a group, were comparatively unexposed to these papers. The next most commonly identified sources of regular news were CNN (55 percent) and the BBC (54 percent), with many reporting that they watched both. Other American publications (such as Time and Newsweek) were accessed by 40 percent of respondents, and other international (non-American) publications were accessed by half of the respondent pool, with Britain’s Financial Times and the Economist by far the most frequently identified publications. Only 12 percent of respondents said that they sometimes read or watched what could be considered “critical” but relatively mainstream international news sources, such as Britain’s Guardian or Independent newspapers or Al Jazeera. None reported accessing news and commentary sites that carry a daily load of strongly negative information about the United

111.  Distribution numbers as of 2009, according to the International Herald Tribune’s reported figures available at www.IHTInfo.com/advertising. The small distribution compared to national dailies, even allowing for multiple readers of the same copy, confirms that the average Indonesian reader of the International Herald Tribune is not the same as the average Indonesian newspaper reader. The paper enjoys a much higher circulation in the Asia/Pacific region (82,581) than in any other region except Europe (120,450). Circulation in the Middle East and Africa is 12,842 and just 390 in Latin America.

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States, such as the American websites Counterpunch and Common Dreams or selfdeclared Islamic news media, such as Indonesia’s Sabili.112 The judgment that this media diet provides a relatively positive information set about the United States depends on how content is categorized. As one Filipino military officer pointed out, his friends who watch Fox News consider CNN to be “too liberal” and anti-American.113 Content analysis tends to suggest a different bias, showing that “quality” American media such as the New York Times (which provides much of the content for the International Herald Tribune) provide news coverage that is comparatively sympathetic to the perspectives and needs of the American government, from its coverage of the Vietnam War to the vast differential in space accorded to deaths and atrocities committed by the United States and regimes friendly to it, as compared to deaths and atrocities committed by regimes unfriendly to the United States.114 Other sources have shown how a range of United States media have frequently served to justify and sell the case for American intervention in wars abroad while tending to gloss over the destructive human consequences of such wars.115 Similarly, public foreign policy analysis in the broader American intellectual landscape has often foreclosed debate at times of conflict and war in favor of the agenda pursued by the executive branch of the U.S. government.116 In connection with U.S. foreign policy in the post-2001 period, several analyses have shown that mainstream American media, including outlets such as CNN and the New York Times, failed to support a competitive “marketplace of ideas” that would have allowed fair scrutiny of justifications for the war against Iraq. Instead, media outlets frequently allowed themselves to be used as mouthpieces of the administration, often failed to scrutinize official claims and sources, provided disproportionate time and space to prowar commentators, and acted as active collaborators in the processes of threat inflation that secured political support for the war.117 Major American news sources do, of course, include negative 112.  Respectively available online at www.counterpunch.org, www.commondreams.org, and www.sabili.co.id. 113.  His own view was that CNN was “slightly to the left.” Interview 41. 114.  Herman 1999; Herman and Chomsky 1988. Most critiques of Herman and Chomsky have focused on their explanations for asymmetric content and framing, rather than contesting their evidence of differential coverage. 115.  Solomon 2005. The argument is presented in the related documentary, War Made Easy, produced by Loretta Alper for the Media Education Foundation (2008). Similar graphic illustration of the same theme is well covered in a documentary series produced by Adam Curtis for the BBC, The Power of Nightmares (2004). 116.  Halper and Clarke 2007; Western 2005. 117.  Massing 2004; Miller 2008; Thrall and Cramer 2009. On the broader American intellectual landscape, including the role of think tanks and pundits in the runup to the Iraq war, see Halper and Clarke 2007; Western 2005.

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coverage of U.S. actions abroad. There clearly was a spike in negative information about the United States in the years after 2001, which corresponds with a spike in concerns about the United States at this time, even in foreign policy establishments. The question of bias, however, arises out of the relative frequency of positive to negative information as well as the asymmetric framing of news items. And in this respect, major American news providers frequently frame key conflicts, particularly involving Muslim-identified terrorism and Israel, in ways that distance the viewer from opponents of the United States and Israel, while according comparatively greater legitimacy to Israeli and American actions.118 These biases were consciously recognized by several Southeast Asian respondents, although many made positive assessments of the media sources they accessed. One Malaysian, who self-identified as having very positive views of the United States, maintained that CNN was very useful: “Some say it is biased, but I actually see it as balanced.”119 A Malaysian former senior diplomat who maintained a personal subscription to the International Herald Tribune considered that Saddam Hussein had “brought the Iraq War on himself ” and acknowledged that “like other Malaysians” he had believed at the time that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.120 Similarly, a Thai diplomat who regularly accessed the New York Times as well as CNN and the BBC took it as uncontentious that the U.S. move to preempt the development of WMD capacity was justified, maintaining that it had been acting honestly on the basis of information available at the time.121 A small minority said that they avoided sources such as the International Herald Tribune because of its American slant, but far more often the many respondents who read the International Herald Tribune or the New York Times had nothing bad to say about these newspapers, even when invited to express their opinion. Respondents’ views of CNN were more mixed and critical, with a much greater number seeing it as “pro-American” and superficial (but nonetheless choosing to watch it). Some respondents, mostly in Indonesia and Malaysia, said that they had stopped watching CNN after being sickened by its coverage of the Iraq War. With a few exceptions, almost all who distinguished between CNN and the BBC preferred the BBC, judging it to be more objective, balanced, and less biased in favor of the United States. The widespread availability of BBC news coverage, along with other suppliers such as Al Jazeera and China Television (CTV), was thus noted by a Malaysian news editor and commentator as a welcome source

118.  Ackerman 2001; Chomsky and Herman 1988; Herman 1999; Said 1981. Some of the reasons are suggested in Mearsheimer and Walt 2006. 119.  Interview 29. 120.  Interview 26. 121.  Interview 63.

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of diversity, “unlike in the past, when we just had CNN.”122 The confidence expressed in the BBC as a “balanced” source of news attests to its coverage being distinguishable from that of CNN. It treated the 2003 Iraq War, for example, as less of a patriotic fireworks display, and it gave more space to antiwar commentators before the war. Several content analyses of the BBC and other British media coverage of the Iraq War and other international conflicts, however, have found that the BBC has often favored the British government’s position, which has often been to support the United States. Similarly, its coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict has frequently favored Israel, even if the bias is less pronounced than in the case of American news providers.123 Exposure to mainstream British news sources, especially the BBC, the Financial Times, and the Economist, means that members of the foreign policy community get a different information set about the world and the actions of the United States than that available through mainstream U.S. media alone. Viewed against a broader spectrum of news providers, however, these are still fairly U.S.friendly sources. And it is still the case that American sources of news account for by far the most frequently accessed foreign news sources identified by members of the foreign policy community. American providers naturally enough frame issues in terms of American priorities and interests, and the parameters of media debate are set by the spectrum of American policy debates. Regular exposure to this perspective, therefore, makes it easy to gain a sympathetic understanding for the U.S. point of view. In the case of most members of the foreign policy community, this is unmatched by similar perspective-taking from the vantage point of other countries. None reported a similar degree of exposure to Chinese, Indian, or Middle Eastern news sources. Consistent with a sense of comparatively greater imagined proximity to the United States, many respondents took pains to express how they “understood” the anger and shock felt by the U.S. public after the terrorist attacks of 2001. While similar sympathy for Palestinians perceived as driven to acts of retaliation was voiced by some respondents, most foes, competitors, or victims of the United States were not given the benefit of such perspective-taking. One Malaysian explicitly identified media coverage as an influence on beliefs about the United States as a generally benign power: “They are portrayed as good, well-intentioned. We get their perspective and rationales through the news

122.  Interview 31. 123.  Jiad 2004; Lewis and Brookes 2004; Llewellyn 2004. Edwards and Cromwell 2006 covers the biases of both British and American media. Contradictory allegations have also been made, such as the claim that the BBC has a pro-Palestinian bias. The issue is discussed in Kampfer 2009.

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daily.”124 The respondent, who reported his own news sources to include daily exposure to the International Herald Tribune and CNN, initially described CNN as “candid and can be very critical of the U.S. You can get all you need from them.” Later in the interview, however, he noted how the media made one numb to the horrifying devastation caused by the U.S. war in Iraq. “The Iraqi toll gets presented as statistics here and there, another fifty people killed. If it was fifty American soldiers you can be sure CNN would do weeks of commemorations, all the candles, the families . . . but Iraqis are just a number.” Implicitly adopting an American perspective even in criticizing the United States, a former Indonesian ambassador asked, referring to the U.S. war in Iraq, “How many soldiers will die? Will they wait until it is 58,000, as in the case of Vietnam?”125 Members of the foreign policy community in Southeast Asia are not merely passive absorbers of news. Many described themselves as sophisticated news consumers who did not necessarily believe what the media reported but watched to “see what they were saying” and formed their own opinions independently. Self-conscious skepticism, however, does not necessarily override the effects of repetitive exposure to information.126 Further, media bias involves not only what is presented but also what is not presented. The filtering of potentially newsworthy events is not something that a consumer of news would be aware of, unless he or she is already exposed to information about underreported news events. In this respect, the comparative narrowness of the media diet of members of the foreign policy community becomes salient. Despite exposure to a large number of sources, consumption of foreign news clustered heavily around relatively conservative British and mainstream American providers of news. Most respondents also consumed news from their own countries, of course, although many claimed that they did so only to stay abreast of local news. How much does this inject a different balance of information about the United States? There are few content analyses of media coverage of foreign policy issues in Southeast Asia. Two that cover the period after 2001 have adopted Galtung’s war journalism/peace journalism framework, which does not directly relate to the issue of the balance between coverage that is favorable to the United States and that which is not. One finding from these studies is that that the two Indonesian newspapers most often read by members of the foreign policy community, the Indonesian-language Kompas and the English-language Jakarta Post, tended

124.  Interview 16. 125.  Interview 1. The respondent did not mention Iraqi or Vietnamese deaths during the interview. 126.  Wilson, Gilbert, and Wheatley 1998; Wyer and Albarracin 2005, 300.

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to engage in “peace journalism” reporting.127 The operationalization of “peace journalism” in these studies is one that adopts a generally moderate and noninflammatory tone, avoiding “emotive terms such as invaders, occupiers” and being “non-partisan.”128 In the case of the Iraq War, such language in fact translates into an implicitly positive representation of the U.S. invasion and occupation. Similarly, the dispassionate reporting and focus on the global economic repercussions found in the case of the Kompas coverage of the 2001 attacks on Afghanistan also fit the argument that “the unthinkable is becoming normal” raised by an antiwar western journalist.129 In the absence of more systematic analysis relating to U.S. actions, it is hard to make firm characterizations about the information mix carried in mainstream national media in Southeast Asia. In the case of the Philippines and Singapore, the flavor of news reporting on terrorism tended to support American (and national elite) actions in terms of the prominence accorded to particular events and in the framing of them.130 Singapore’s major English-language daily, the Straits Times, did print a number of commentaries questioning the case for the Iraq War, but its overall mix of news was sympathetic to the case for war. In March 2003 a senior government minister was able to state confidently, “It is clear to everyone, unless that person wears blinkers, that this is a war to remove the weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein.”131 A mild commentary on the failure to find such weapons was robustly condemned by the foreign minister’s press secretary, who restated the justification for the war and took the occasion to capitalize on the saturation coverage of terrorism in the local media: “Singaporeans cannot afford to strike postures fashionable with the oppositionist media in America and Britain at the expense of the security of Singaporeans. Should we have waited until the Jemaah Islamiah exploded bombs in Singapore before acting against it? Similarly, should the U.S. have waited until all its critics were convinced before acting against Saddam? A small nation in terrorist-infested South-east Asia does not have this luxury of libertarian posturing.”132 The Straits Times also regularly carries content from the New York Times and, for several years, a weekly summary of world news selected by a relatively conservative London-based journalist. Given that home country news providers cover the speeches and views of national politicians, some correspondence with official policy and rhetoric can be expected. News media also have a local constituency to consider and can be 127.  Maslog, Lee, and Kim 2006; Wijadi 2004. 128.  Maslog, Lee, and Kim 2006, 28. 129.  Pilger 2004; Wijadi 2004. 130.  Nelson 2004, 2008; Rosario-Braid and Tuazon 2003. 131.  Quoted in Acharya 2005, 210. 132.  Tan 2003.

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expected to cater to the anticipated priorities of their readers. In countries where political figures heatedly criticized U.S. foreign policy from 2001, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia, local news sources gave considerable coverage to their statements.133 Despite the comparative moderation of the Kompas coverage of the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan, the paper did not endorse the war.134 Kompas journalists, like several from Malaysian news outlets, were sent to cover the aftermath of the war in Iraq and filed dispatches that emphasized the negative consequences for Iraqis.135 The English-language Jakarta Post, in contrast, was described by a senior journalist as “basically pro-U.S.,” although it does give space to critical commentary pieces. Like the Straits Times, it also regularly carries content from the New York Times, an arrangement that was explained as arising from a threemonth free trial offered by the U.S. newspaper. When the Jakarta Post declined to pay for further supply, the free offer was continued.136 Intensive coverage of issues associated with U.S. wars, renditions, and torture reduced to a comparatively low level in the years after 2004. By 2007, a preliminary investigation of content carried by even the previously critical mainstream vernacular press in Malaysia and Indonesia shows that these newspapers were less likely to report negative news about the United States than Britain’s Guardian.137 The inauguration of President Barack Obama was given lavish and very positive coverage in the Indonesian press, and assessments of his foreign policy were mostly positive. Reports and commentaries on Obama’s “Cairo speech” on relations with the Muslim world, for example, did not criticize the speech. While Indonesian papers reported on some cautious responses of local Muslim leaders, the most common refrain was, “Let’s wait and see whether he really acts on it”—not a critique of the speech itself, even in the self-identified Islamic newspaper Republika.138 For stinging criticism of the content of Obama’s speech and 133.  Cole 2006. 134.  Wijadi 2004. 135.  A Kompas journalist published a book that is strongly critical of U.S. actions. Kuncahyono 2005. 136.  Interview 5. Content from Britain’s Guardian, he said, had been considered but was too expensive. Although the paper is in English, he estimated that about 55% of its daily print circulation of 35,000 was read by Indonesians. Indonesian government offices in the departments of defense and foreign affairs subscribe to the Jakarta Post. Jusuf Wanandi, a long-term foreign policy adviser and commentator with close ties to American institutions and individuals, is a member of the newspaper’s board of directors. 137.  This conclusion is based on taking Guardian reports that carried negative information about the United States (such as Iraqi deaths, references to torture by U.S. personnel, civilian casualties of U.S. air attacks, and Israeli violence against either Palestinians or Lebanon) as a baseline during selected date ranges. Kompas reported on the same incidents slightly more than half the time, while Malaysia’s Utusan Malaysia did so even less often. 138.  See, e.g., Kompas reports of 5 June 2009, “Respons Positif Bagi Obama” and “Mesir Impikan Obama seperti Carter,” as well as a favorable editorial mention of his speech in the same edition.

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of the ongoing destructive aspects of U.S. foreign policy, one would have had to turn away from the mainstream local news media, to sources rarely accessed by foreign policy professionals, such as Britain’s Guardian or New Statesman.139

Reasoning Members of the foreign policy community are exposed to information and models of expertise from policy-oriented scholarship and quasi-scholarly “track two” dialogue meetings of academics, foreign policy advisers, and officials acting in an unofficial capacity.140 Involvement in such dialogues was cited as a source of intellectual influence by some members of the foreign policy community. One senior Indonesian official, for example, mentioned the “conference circuit” as important in shaping his thinking, identifying the Asia Foundation, regional seminars, the Shangri La Dialogue, and Indonesia’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as examples.141 English-speaking members of the foreign policy communities in Southeast Asia regularly attend such meetings, many of which feature the same cast of core participants from think tanks, academia, the media, and government. With respect to information about the United States, discussions and papers presented at these meetings are positive in comparison with information about China. The United States does not escape criticism, but complaints tend to focus on such issues as neglect of ASEAN, intrusion over human rights, or conditionalities attached to multilateral lending. Passing references to the United States as a historical source of stability are routine. An extended review of discourses in the regional conference circuit has shown that images associated with the United States tend to represent the country as sometimes irritating but essentially as a benign provider of regional security and stability. China, in contrast, is viewed with more caution and lower levels of trust.142 The question relating to China tends to be whether “China’s rise” will be destabilizing, whereas for the United States, the most frequent question is whether it will remain engaged in the region. Whether the preponderance of power exercised by the United States is stabilizing or destabilizing is not a question that is often, if ever, asked. Given these asymmetries in the questions posed, it follows that the information about them that is made available is markedly different. Even favorable assessments of China’s rising 139.  Both carried strong critiques of Obama’s speech and the continuities in U.S. foreign policy. See, e.g., Abunimah 2009; Pilger 2009. 140.  On these processes and the role of regional think tanks, see Tan 2007. 141.  Interview 2. 142.  Tan 2007, especially 142–148. Representative examples and reviews include Goh 2005; Jawhar 1995; Kwa and Tan 2001; Wanandi 2006b, 2006c.

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power go through the pros and cons, the indicators of civility or bellicosity. In contrast, such indicators are not marshaled in the case of the United States, about which an entirely different question is asked. A sense of how unusual it would be to raise fundamental questions about the United States can be judged from how the chairman of a Malaysian think tank reflected on the reasons for not seeing the United States as a threat, despite many features of its policy and doctrine that could easily be judged to be threatening and provocative: “If I said what I’m saying now at some of these international conferences and regional workshops, I would not get invited back. It is not welcome to question at this level.”143 The regional dialogue circuit and the work of policy-oriented local academics also open a window onto the modes of reasoning employed in foreign policy circles. We can take these modes of reasoning as representing “appropriate” ways of generating and testing beliefs. Such understandings are likely to be salient in that experimental research on accuracy motives and belief formation suggests that, when motivated for accuracy, subjects reach for models of reasoning that are deemed legitimate.144 Legitimate models of reasoning may, for many officials, be inferred from accounts by high-status colleagues or political leaders. They may also be found in the work of scholars whose professional lives bring them into contact with officials. Not only do such scholars have incentives to ensure that their work meets standards of “policy relevance” in order to gain credibility as would-be advisers, by modeling processes of reasoning and hypothesis-testing themselves, they also serve to reproduce such standards. Frequently, foundational claims regarding the historical role of the United States, the regional strategic context, and the motivations for policy choices are asserted as presumptions rather than generated or defended through argumentation.145 The style of reasoning and presentation in regional think tank papers was described by the chairman of one think tank as possibly drawing on academic theories, “but if so they mostly apply and distil these theories and insights without discussing their assumptions.” Footnotes in a typical think tank paper “are scant or nonexistent.”146 Concerns with being policy-relevant and to present national policies at regional meetings, as well as career links to government, reinforce the tendency for think tank output to accept foundational foreign policy beliefs as givens.147

143.  Interview 16. 144.  Kruglanski 2004; Kunda 1990. 145.  Examples include Jeshurun 2007; Luhulima 2006; Nathan 1998; Ruhanas 2006. This mode of scholarship is also characteristic of some influential foreign academics working on Southeast Asia, such as Michael Leifer, with whom several Southeast Asians active in foreign policy circles studied as graduate students. See Leifer 2000. 146.  Tay 2006, 128. 147.  Hernandez 2006, 19; Kraft 2006, 78, 83; Tay 2006, 128–129.

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Even in more self-consciously scholarly output, attempts to test the foundational beliefs about the United States that policymakers and professionals cite regularly are rare. Rather, expertise tends to be deployed in “reason-based” narratives that tell a story, often with great plausibility, with little attention given to alternative explanations, base rates, or formal measures of probability. Methodologically, the descriptive-interpretive narrative is by far the most common approach. Events and actions are casually explained, most often on the authority of statements by policymakers or simply on the authority of the author, who pieces together a chain of events. Defenders of this kind of scholarship might argue that there is no need to ask the fundamental questions about the United States that are asked about China. From a partisan perspective on the domestic and international conflicts that the United States has been involved in over the last sixty years, this may well stand. In terms of general claims about the benign or stabilizing impact of the United States, the record should invite precisely this type of scrutiny. Most policy-oriented scholarship, however, like the policymaker accounts that it frequently draws on for evidence, does not engage with the material on the other side of a potential debate about the impact of U.S. power in the region. An additional reason for the sanitized picture of the United States that emerges from both Southeast Asian and western scholarship on the international relations of the region is the extent to which regionalism—particularly the regional cooperation and identity-building processes associated with ASEAN—has dominated scholarly output.148 A focus on ASEAN, its antecedents, and its spinoffs reinforces the belief that ASEAN reflects aspirations for independence and nonalignment. This positions the United States as a friendly power that has respected ASEAN as a vehicle for regional autonomy rather than a vehicle for securing a noncommunist Southeast Asia. The focus on ASEAN also has the effect of rendering Southeast Asia as a region virtually without war. A typical study of “regional security” is essentially a study of ASEAN, its norms, its practices, and its contributions to peace.149 The only conflict to receive sustained attention in this literature is the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia—introduced not to investigate the causes of instability in that country but as a showcase of ASEAN diplomatic solidarity and identity-building. ASEAN’s intensive diplomatic lobbying to isolate Vietnam and the devastated post–Khmer Rouge Cambodia, including helping create and support both the coalition government in exile and the Khmer Rouge–dominated

148.  Hamilton-Hart 2009. 149.  Caballero-Anthony 2005.

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resistance on the ground, becomes “ASEAN’s finest hour” in standard accounts.150 Not only does this draw a veil over some of the most destructive actions of the United States in the region, it also screens out the less savory aspects of some ASEAN members’ own actions in connection with the Cambodian conflict as well as the war that caused barely a ripple in ASEAN circles: Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor. Scholarly accounts of ASEAN are often based on statements about ASEAN by policymakers. References to ASEAN as representative of aspirations for regional autonomy are routinely made, evidenced by ASEAN declarations and policymaker statements. The focus on these stated aspirations sidelines the actual degree of alignment with the United States. The perils of reliance on official discourse have been underlined in recent revisionist work, which has shown pervasive inconsistencies and violations of supposedly core principles, including the principle of noninterference.151 Noninterference is, however, a useful principle protecting the interests of local powerholders when selectively adopted and is thus a prime candidate for “localization” of an international norm.152 It remains that many ASEAN statements are contradicted by actual practice. In connection with ties to the United States, ASEAN’s foundational statement frequently cited as evidence of aspirations for independence from great power involvement, the ZOPFAN declaration of 1971, was actually issued only after backroom agreement that, whatever the declaration actually said, ties to the United States would not be called into question.153 The teaching of international relations in Southeast Asian universities also provides a window onto the epistemic environment of the foreign policy community. Professional training programs in foreign ministries and defense establishments increasingly include exposure to courses taught by local scholars of international relations and security studies. As these training courses have developed, new entrants to the Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian, and Philippine foreign ministries typically are exposed to between six months and a year of formal training. In-house training institutes also run specialized short courses and seminars for diplomats, and some maintain ties to locally run graduate degree programs in

150.  These accounts take the ASEAN position as the starting point for analyses of diplomatic solidarity-building and do not interrogate the official rationale for the ASEAN position. Mahbubani 1983, written by a serving Singaporean diplomat, gives the ASEAN case. Thai academic accounts from the 1980s, writing from the position of ASEAN’s “front line state,” maintain a uniform defense of the Thai government’s position, e.g., IAS 1985. Rungswasdisab 2004 notes that the intellectual atmosphere at the time did not permit significant deviations from the official line. 151.  Jones 2007, 2010. 152.  Acharya 2009. 153.  Narine 2002, 15–19.

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international relations and strategic studies.154 In addition to providing training in protocol, etiquette, and diplomatic communication, these courses also provide academic content. Along with in-house trainers, the instructor pool is taken from serving and retired officials, local establishment figures, and academics from local universities, particularly departments of international relations. One Malaysian academic who had instructed in training programs associated with the foreign ministry’s training wing claimed that Malay, Muslim students mostly “hate” the United States, but “at least by the end of the course they will acknowledge the positive role it plays. They may start with the position that we don’t need the U.S. . . . all this stuff about Palestine and so on, but they change during the course. The brightest are more on the same page from the beginning.”155 Despite such impressions, it is hard to verify the role of these programs in directly transmitting beliefs about the United States. What is plausible, however, is that scholars who have ties to their country’s foreign policy or defense establishment, including as consultants and instructors in official training courses, craft their courses to reflect “acceptable” standards of knowledge. Surveys of the teaching of international relations in universities in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam show that the syllabus is markedly U.S.-friendly.156 This is a consequence of ASEAN often dominating courses on regional international relations and much of the reading list being based on American-authored scholarship that frames outcomes such as stability in terms of U.S. interests. Local perspectives are not absent, but given the direct hand that governments— particularly in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia—have had in shaping the intellectual orientation of universities, local perspectives tend to reflect the priorities of those in power.157

Social Attitudes, Personal Ties, and Beliefs about the United States Beliefs about the United States are informed by social and affective ties. As the chairman of a Singaporean foreign policy think tank observed when asked about the United States, “You want to think well of your friends. You want to think your

154.  Borja 1999; Kumaraseri 2004; interviews 4, 19, 25, and 60. 155.  Interview 15. 156.  Balakrishnan 2009; Chong and Hamilton-Hart 2009; Chong and Tan 2009; Hadiwinata 2009; Pham 2009; Prasirtsuk 2009. 157.  The point has been demonstrated most clearly in studies of the relationship between powerholders and intellectuals in Indonesia. Dhakidae 2003; Hadiz and Dhakidae 2005.

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friend is a nice person.”158 Attitudinal liking and disliking impinge on belief formation at multiple stages, from the filtering of information to the construction of causal models.159 Although there is variation, there is also some clustering of social attitudes in the foreign policy community as a result of a degree of commonality in educational background, social networks, and political values. On these dimensions, the foreign policy community in Southeast Asia remains—and in the case of Vietnam, is increasingly becoming—one in which positive attitudes toward the United States have been embedded through personal experiences, educational exposure, and professional networking. Pressures to adopt a common outlook are not uniform and are in the process of changing as a result of social and generational change. A degree of pluralism has long been characteristic of the foreign policy community in Thailand and the Philippines, evidenced by the greater diversity of beliefs about the United States and understanding of the lessons of history described in chapter 4. A retired Thai ambassador, for example, referred to the influence of his first ambassador when he was still a junior official. His mentor, he said, was a liberal who had been with Pridi Bhanomyong’s Free Thai movement. He had told the young official that “your country is not always right,” a message he had taken to heart when reflecting on his own early brush with the U.S.-backed infiltration of Burma during the Cold War. The experience led him to temper his patriotism and also instilled skepticism about American rhetoric.160 There was, in contrast, less space for individuals with a liberal or critical sense of nationalism in the Indonesian foreign ministry, where a purge after Suharto’s takeover of government saw many ousted from their positions. One former diplomat recalled that he had been away from Indonesia during the 1965–66 upheaval but had been worried about the purge: “We were just trying to save our skins. I was prepared to join the private sector on returning in 1968, but somehow managed to stay in.”161 The foreign ministry, previously identified with Sukarno’s left-leaning foreign minister, was physically ransacked by anti-Sukarno protestors who cheered the installation of the New Order.162 Despite these differences, a clustering of social attitudes is consistent with the social and educational makeup of career entrants, reinforced by relatively dense interpersonal networks and the comparatively small size of foreign ministries. Foreign ministries in most Southeast Asian countries, with the partial

158.  Interview 44. 159.  Marsh and Wallace 2005. 160.  Interview 59. 161.  Interview 1. 162.  Reyes 1995, 48; Sukma 1998.

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exception of Indonesia, are not vast bureaucracies. The relatively small number of diplomatic personnel combined with overlapping career paths, both in the ministry’s home office (where a career diplomat would typically spend about a third of his or her career) and on postings abroad allow for small group social dynamics conducive to the clustering of attitudes. The majority of representative missions abroad, with half a dozen or fewer diplomatic staff, also favor a closeknit embassy community in which the ambassador exercises predominant social influence. For some, living in official housing when working in the home office could also be an occasion for forming personal connections with colleagues and reinforcing a sense of occupying a shared social and professional world.163 A sense of exclusivity that is conducive to a clustering of outlooks is also fostered by an early association with relatively elite sections of society. The first generation of Malaysian ambassadors, for example, were all men with elite positions in government, the professions, and business, and the foreign service maintained the cachet of association with Malaysia’s aristocratic first prime minister, who also held the foreign affairs portfolio.164 The Thai foreign ministry also had an elite aura due to the presence of several prominent aristocratic families, and in the Philippines members of the oligarchy could bypass normal entry channels to claim even non-ambassadorial posts.165 While far greater numbers of diplomats entered from more modest social backgrounds, they were nonetheless relatively privileged, if only in terms of having gained access to university education. Indonesian entrants in the late 1950s and early 1960s were often drawn from the small aspiring middle class. One former diplomat recalled opting for the foreign service academy (then the entry route to the foreign affairs department) because it was free and his family was not wealthy, but he was nonetheless relatively privileged in terms of access to education: in his cohort, only thirty of about a thousand applicants were admitted.166 Another former Indonesian diplomat relates his involvement in a strongly anticommunist student association.167 As foreign ministries developed over time, competitive entry systems (in some countries based on a demanding open exam) that inducted recruits directly into the foreign service became the typical mode of entry for career diplomats. Education and professional training also brought a number of foreign policy professionals into contact with Americans and other westerners. An elite section

163.  Loeis 2004, 34, 38, 58. 164.  Santhananaban 2006. 165.  Funston 1998; Reyes 1995, 21. The requirement that nonambassadorial positions be reserved for those who had passed the foreign service exam was enforced more strictly after a major overhaul of the foreign service law in 1991. 166.  Interview 1. 167.  Loeis 2004, 35.

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of recruits in the early years of the Philippine foreign service were trained in the United States and were known as the “State Department boys,” whose training was intended to be institutionalized in the Department of Foreign Affairs.168 A former general referred to himself as being seen as “America’s boy” as a result of close friendships formed over decades of cooperation, “but at a human level. Not because they are American and I am Filipino.”169 Another former general, Rafael Ileto, who held ambassadorial positions and formed close relations with the career diplomats who served under him, had also developed close relationships with the many American military and intelligence personnel with whom he had worked in earlier decades.170 Similar personal ties are cited in the case of Thai military officials who worked closely with Americans.171 Thailand’s foreign ministry retains the institutional memory of hosting American advisors in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.172 It also provides scholarships for study abroad, with the United States being the first choice of destination.173 In the case of Malaysia’s foreign service, new recruits in the early years were seconded on six-month attachments with Britain’s Foreign Office, and some spent time in Australia for training.174 Scholarships for entering and midcareer officials in Malaysia and Singapore now favor university courses in the United States, although a few institutions in the United Kingdom and Australia are also popular.175 Those entering the Indonesian foreign ministry in its early years were trained at the in-house foreign service academy (with a Dutch head) and then at university courses in international relations at one of Indonesia’s top universities, where American academics were involved in teaching.176 About half of the professors in the international relations program were American, the result of institutional ties with Johns Hopkins University.177 Educational and professional links with U.S. universities, foundations, and government offices were part of extensive American cultural diplomacy and education programs involving government, academia, and private foundations. 168.  Borja 1999; Reyes 1995. 169.  Interview 40. 170.  Zaide 2004, 376–378. He was also a graduate of West Point military academy, an experience that appeared to be formative. I am grateful to Reynaldo Ileto for this information. 171.  Haberkorn 2007; Saiyud 1986, 2001. 172.  Duke 1982. 173.  Interview 60. 174.  Interview 26. See also Kumaraseri 2004; Yusof 2005. 175.  One former diplomat identified Georgetown University, SAIS, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy as well as Oxford University and the Australian National University as some of the top destinations for Malaysian foreign ministry officials undertaking postgraduate degree courses. Interview 25. See also Kumaraseri 2004. 176.  Interview 4. See also Loeis 2004, 88. 177.  Interviews 1 and 4.

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Close personal, financial, and institutional ties linked the worlds of U.S. foundations, universities, and government organizations responsible for defense, foreign policy, and intelligence.178 Nonclandestine outreach efforts by the government were led by the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), established in 1953 to coordinate public diplomacy. The most important target of these programs in Southeast Asia were the region’s rising elites in government, politics, and the social sector, identified as future leaders of their countries. The USIA and other agencies engaged these elites with the intention of “fostering mental and ideological dispositions favorable to the ‘West’ in general and the United States in particular.”179 The USIA’s work was not just to disseminate information; it was also intended to provide a network of “contact zones”—“social spaces where men and women from Southeast Asian countries and the United States could meet and exchange ideas and values.” Despite some equivocation by leaders such as Sukarno, overall the program met cooperative responses across the region, including Indonesia. It was a matter of particular satisfaction to American officials that those entering the “contact zones” included “multipliers of knowledge, members of the educational elite, and government officials.”180 Several “exchange-of-persons” programs involving different government departments, the Fulbright Commission, and a number of ostensibly private foundations were also part of this public diplomacy. In addition to a rise in private exchange programs, U.S. government agencies were still running 130 exchange programs in the 1990s, involving more than 120,000 participants annually.181 The single largest exchange initiative is the Fulbright Program, which counts more than 300,000 alumni from over 155 countries since its establishment in 1946.182 Despite cuts to the program, 411 academics from six Southeast Asian countries were selected as Fulbright scholars between 1998 and 2010, with the largest numbers coming from Malaysia and Vietnam.183 American foundations and universities also played roles in developing peopleto-people ties and in supporting the U.S. government’s efforts at image-building and anticommunist modernization during the Cold War. The Asia Foundation, now one of the most active U.S. foundations in Asia, has had an explicitly 178.  Gilman 2003; Oren 2003; Parmar 2006, 2008; Robin 2001. Pauker 1959 offers an example; on Pauker, see Budiawan 2006. 179.  Frey 2003, 554. See also Dizard 2004. 180.  Frey 2003, 555, 563. 181.  Dizard 2004, 186–191. 182.  The Fulbright Program notes that alumni include twenty-eight people who went on to serve as head of state or government. See http://fulbright.state.gov/fulbright/community/alumni. 183.  On the basis of information provided by the Fulbright administering organization, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, available at www.cies.org/vs_scholars/vs_dir.htm.

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educational focus from its establishment in 1951, as a key part of its mission to assist “individuals and groups in Asia who are working for the maintenance of peace and independence, and for the attainment of greater personal liberty and social progress.”184 Until exposed in 1967, it also covertly received funding from CIA front organizations and maintained personal links with the CIA.185 In the 1950s it maintained offices in fourteen Asian countries, including South Vietnam, Malaya, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines; today it operates in eighteen Asian countries. Among its grant-giving and educational projects, it has since 1958 been involved in funding and identifying Asian participants in the American Political Science Association’s Congressional Fellows program as well as running the Asian portion of the Luce Scholars Program, established by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974.186 Foundations made deliberate efforts to cultivate local elites. The Ford Foundation in Indonesia, for example, has since 1953 run a program intended to build an elite oriented to modernization and a western, implicitly American, perspective on development issues.187 Its role in training academics who later became influential in the New Order government was subject to a critical exposé in an American leftist publication, Ramparts, a charge shrugged off by a member of Indonesia’s cultural elite tasked with lead authorship of the Ford Foundation’s commemorative volume.188 The Ford Foundation also invested heavily in English-language education in Indonesia, funded programs to bring future leaders of foreign countries to the United States, and has provided funding for an influential Philippine think tank.189 One long-running program supported by Ford was the Harvard Seminar, led by Henry Kissinger. The seminar deliberately provided a strong social element to “encourage the establishment of personal friendships with Americans” and to create “emotional bonds between elites. . . . For Kissinger, the program’s most ‘decisive’ impact was the attitudes engendered in the minds’ of participants in ‘the crucible of informal conversations.’ ”190

184.  Pierson 1957, 158. 185.  For example, Saunders 1999, 230. See also Dahl et al. 1967. 186.  The Asia Foundation counts “nearly 130” Asian Congressional Fellows over the years and 518 American Luce Scholars whose internships in Asia it facilitated. Information available through the Foundation’s website, at http://asiafoundation.org. 187.  Parmar 2006, 185–186. 188.  Goenawan 2003, 126. The glossy volume does not attempt to provide a history of the Ford Foundation’s involvement in the country, despite the Indonesian writing team having been granted access to Ford’s archives. It does, however, provide evidence of the many Indonesians active in government and the social sector who received Ford support. 189.  Interview 39. 190.  Parmar 2008, 32–33.

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Private organizations continue to foster links with the policy community. The Asia Society, for example, has a long tradition of hosting high-level policymakers as well as a small number of visiting fellows.191 The Asia Foundation also has strong links with Southeast Asian foreign policy think tanks and since the 1990s has organized a series of workshops that bring together elite individuals in the foreign policy community with American interlocutors.192 The Asia Foundation’s links with the local foreign policy community, however, date back well before this time: it supported the initial meeting of the ASEAN-ISIS group of think tanks in 1984.193 This influential group has longstanding personal connections with individuals and institutions in the United States. As recounted by the founder and chairman of Indonesia’s CSIS, the idea for the formation of the ASEAN-ISIS network originated with an American scholar and friend, Donald Emmerson, during meetings of U.S. and Southeast Asian scholars and think tank personnel organized by Robert Scalapino of the University of California at Berkeley’s Institute of East Asian Studies in the early 1980s. He goes on to describe as a motive for the establishment of the ASEAN-ISIS network a need for ASEAN to “find out what the intentions were of the U.S. towards South East Asia” after the Vietnam War, a context in which “it became obvious that there is the need for Indonesia and ASEAN to have good relations with the U.S. and Japan. The U.S. is the superpower whose presence in East Asia has been the guarantor of regional peace and stability.”194 As well as supporting several of the early meetings of the ASEAN-ISIS, Berkeley’s IEAS under Scalapino also fostered academic collaborations with a number of Southeast Asian scholars, several of whom became influential in policy terms.195 One of the flagship annual meetings of the ASEAN-ISIS group is the Asia Pacific Roundtable, launched in 1987. It has served as a platform for social networking with influential Americans in a way that is unmatched by the presence of their counterparts from China.196 The secretary general of ASEAN, former Thai foreign minister Surin Pitsuan, is in some ways representative of the kind of dense and longstanding ties that 191.  The Asia Society was established by a member of the Rockefeller family in 1956. Its website provides a long list of Asian leaders brought to give speeches to the Society and carries endorsements of the Society’s work by political leaders from China, India, and Japan; see http://asiasociety.org. 192.  Published in the “America’s Role in Asia” series. 193.  Soesastro, Joewono, and Hernandez 2006. 194.  Wanandi 2006a, 31–32. 195.  Soesastro, Joewono, and Hernandez 2006, 150–152; Wanandi 2006a, 32. 196.  A list of “APR regulars who have been appointed by their governments to important official posts” includes seven Americans, three Japanese, two Koreans, and no Chinese. Jawhar 2006, 49–51. There are Chinese participants at APR meetings, but they play relatively low-profile roles. A Chinese foreign policy think tank has hosted occasional ASEAN-China dialogues since 1988, but the first meeting featuring “ASEAN and China” as its theme was held as the Fourth U.S.-ASEAN Conference in 1987. Soesastro, Joewono, and Hernandez 2006, 150–151.

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link many members of the Southeast Asian foreign policy community with the United States. Surin’s educational exposure to the United States included experience as an American Field Service exchange student as well as taking degrees at American universities sponsored in part by the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2010 he was appointed to the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation.197 Less prominent examples of educational exposure and professional networking are commonplace. Such experiences are not, of course, guaranteed to produce positive feelings about the United States. One Malaysian recalled that he came back from an internship in the United States in the 1960s with negative views of the country, noting that he disappointed his American sponsors. He believed, however, that most of his generation who studied in the United States or went on exchanges returned with positive feelings.198 Respondents frequently pointed to the impact of social ties and affect. One Filipino foreign policy adviser considered that DFA’s organizational culture meant that it “would be the last to be critical of the U.S.”199 A former senior Filipino diplomat concurred, believing that DFA was “by nature conservative” and pro-American.200 Although some Filipino diplomats were critical of what they saw as their country’s subservience to the United States and the American military bases, others in the foreign policy community reflected positively on their personal experience of working with American partners. Similarly, a number of Indonesian informants described officials in the foreign ministry as mostly proAmerican as a result of educational and social ties, although some considered such attitudes to be less prevalent among younger officials.201 According to one long-term foreign policy adviser, those in the Indonesian foreign policy community who perceive U.S. engagement in the region as necessary and stabilizing are expressing views that they have been taught. “If you want a different view, talk to Muslim party politicians—they will tell you the Americans are crooks.” In contrast, Deplu (Department of Foreign Affairs) officials, he said, were mostly western-educated and enlightened.202 Many interview respondents reflected positively on the experience of educational and social ties with the United States. Several referred to the United States as being “like a second home” and referred to personal ties with American

197.  Rockefeller Foundation 2010. 198.  Interview 14. 199.  Interview 39. 200.  Interview 42. He personally had been against extension of U.S. bases at the time of renewal negotiations in 1980s but felt that his own views of the United States were very different from those prevailing in DFA and those of his father, who had also been a diplomat. 201.  Interviews 3, 5, 8, and 11. 202.  Interview 3.

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individuals and institutions through frequent visits, work experience, and professional networking. Personal engagement with Americans was often cited as a reason for holding positive views of the country, which were distinguished from opinions of specific American policies. One former Malaysian diplomat, for example, noted his personal accord with members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment and cited many meetings with Americans at venues provided by the Council of Foreign Relations, the Asia Society, and Colombia University. Knowing that “those people are reasonable, rational, well-intentioned, and progressive” facilitated his judgment that the George W. Bush administration was an anomaly.203 A number of respondents endorsed the Cold War–era public diplomacy of the United States and called for more resources to be given to such efforts. One senior serving Thai official, for example, said that the United States should make greater use of the kind of “soft power” instruments it had used after World War II, such as education, cultural exchanges, and scholarships: “Thais educated in the U.S. on U.S. scholarships from the 1960s to the 1980s returned with a sense of linkage, understanding, and personal connections.” Familiarity with Americans and the country’s “positive cultural values” was cited as a reason for trusting the United States.204 Similarly, a serving Indonesian diplomat believed that the United States should be more active in gathering support for its policies and building personal relations. For example, he said, the United States should not have ended its ties with the Lembaga Inggeris Amerika, an English-language training institute established in the 1950s, where he had done two years of language study. He considered the institute to be close to the U.S. embassy, had liked his American teachers, and viewed it as a reason for goodwill toward the United States. Of his cohort of around eighty-five people taking the English course, many had gone into Deplu or other parts of the government.205 It is striking that these respondents acknowledged the public diplomacy programs as a source of influence for the United States but nonetheless considered them to be desirable. In contrast, some were suspicious of comparable Chinese efforts, one senior Thai describing the establishment of Confucius Institutes as “not innocuous.”206 Affective ties can fundamentally alter the way a person absorbs and uses available information. Several respondents cited personal ties to the controversial neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz, whom they had met either through his previous

203.  Interview 26. He also referred to goodwill toward the United States on the Malaysian side because of “habits” formed through working together over long years. 204.  Interview 62. 205.  Interview 4. 206.  Interview 60.

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position at a U.S. university or from his earlier ambassadorial posting to Indonesia. As noted in one press account, “Because Wolfowitz and his wife cut such popular figures, many Indonesian friends were surprised years later to learn that as U.S. deputy defense secretary he was the intellectual force behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq, roundly condemned in the world’s largest Muslim country. ‘I was a bit shocked when I realized he was a hawk in the Cabinet,’ said Emil Salim, the population and environment minister under Suharto. ‘I cannot visualize this because I knew him as a gentle fellow.’ ”207 There was, however, ample evidence of Wolfowitz’s “hawkishness” over the preceding two decades, well before his role in planning and advocating for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.208 The perceived attractiveness of American culture was another factor cited by some respondents as influencing their feelings about the United States. To the extent that such cultural exposure results in positive feelings—a minority expressed a strong distaste for American culture—earlier public diplomacy efforts appear to have played a role. These efforts diffused material intended to promote U.S. culture as attractive and the United States as, in value terms, a good country. Europe was the primary target of the covert CIA-led “cultural Cold War” through which the CIA tapped a wide range of film, media, and other outlets to influence intellectual leaders and the noncommunist left.209 Nonetheless, Southeast Asians were exposed to efforts by both the CIA and other agencies to influence the cultural landscape in ways that would foster positive images of the United States. About 35 percent of the USIA budget was allocated to Asia as of 1959.210 Manila was a production center for USIA print materials intended for distribution in the region, and Thailand and the Philippines hosted radio broadcast facilities for Voice of America, another tool in the American cultural warfare arsenal.211 American films were seen by the CIA and other agencies as an important vehicle for fostering pro-American attitudes, and there has been longstanding involvement of U.S. defense and intelligence agencies in the film industry.212 The USIA cooperated with commercial distributors to show Hollywood films across the region. Even in Indonesia, where the USIA was under some restrictions in the 1950s, officials in the Jakarta office estimated that about 10 million Indonesians had seen a USIA film in 1953.213

207.  Sipress and Nakashima 2005. 208.  Shorrock 2001. Wolfowitz’s personal ties also include a close relationship with former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. 209.  Saunders 1999. 210.  Frey 2003, 549–550. 211.  Alexandre 1988; Green, 1988, 86–87. 212.  Miller 2008, 66–68; Saunders 1999, 289–291. 213.  Frey 2003, 551–554.

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The USIA produced and distributed its own content and supported U.S. media exports, including popular magazines such as Time and Reader’s Digest (both with personal links and collaborative ties to the CIA) and Hollywood films.214 Zealously anticommunist Time magazine, headed by Henry Luce, was the flagship of his “American crusade” in Asia.215 Available through USIA offices and to middle-class Southeast Asian subscribers, its content not only provided Asia coverage that validated the U.S. fight against communism (and local anticommunists) but also offered a window onto American life and values, as prescribed by the magazine’s founder. Other American cultural products of the early Cold War era offered a personalized, sentimental, and progressive vision of ties linking the United States and Asia.216 Popular magazines and films presented familial love, not imperialistic coercion, as the force behind the U.S. presence in Asia, providing the cultural backdrop to pronouncements such as Senator John F. Kennedy’s statement that Vietnam “is our offspring—we cannot abandon it, we cannot ignore its needs.”217 Despite the rise of Asian providers of cultural content, the United States dominates cultural industry imports in most of Southeast Asia.218 A Filipino diplomat whose father was also diplomat described an exchange with his father in these terms: –“Tay, remember your story about the Indonesian commenting on Filipinos speaking, writing and thinking like Americans.? You know how I felt as a second-grader then . . . ? I was proud!” –“You know what . . . ? I was, too.” We were two generations . . . seduced by goodness.219 Although this feeling was certainly not shared by all respondents, echoes were not uncommon among older members of the foreign policy community. Two Indonesians, when asked how they viewed the United States, described the warm impression left by watching American movies and learning about the history of American democracy in the 1950s, both sourced by the USIA: “We learned about the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln, Jefferson, all the ideals.” One recalled the kindness of Americans during his first posting to the United States, when he was impressed by the American way of life.220 Others admitted to wrestling

214.  Dizard 2004, 133–167. 215.  Herzstein 2005 provides a detailed history of the magazine and its founder. 216.  Appy 2000. 217.  Quoted in Klein 2000, 65. 218.  Evident in the dominance of U.S. products in cinema box office grosses and radio playlists. See also Miller 2008, 62–64. 219.  Zaide 2004, 33. 220.  Interviews 1 and 4.

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uncomfortably with images of Americans as heroes absorbed early in life from popular culture as well as the positive emotional memories of the beauty of the American landscape, which were difficult to reconcile with the suffering caused by its actions in Vietnam and Iraq.221 One Thai former diplomat cited, among the reasons for trusting China less than the United States, the feeling that “maybe it is embedded in our culture . . . from mass culture, which makes us more familiar with the U.S. than the Chinese.”222 One Filipino noted that before exposure to anti-American ideas at the University of the Philippines, he had held much more positive views about the United States. “I grew up with Reader’s Digest, it gave the American view of conflicts in Vietnam and so on.”223 In contrast, several younger respondents with strongly negative views of U.S. foreign policy held negative views of the American public as ignorant and often chauvinistically aggressive and dismissed American popular culture.

Conclusions: Information and Expertise Positive information about the United States tends to be more readily available in foreign policy circles than negative information. Pieces of information that can be counted as evidence of a benign (if annoying) country are produced through the process of foreign policy work in countries aligned with the United States. The news exposure of members of the foreign policy community also leans toward sources that provide mainstream American perspectives. Still, the information mix faced by members of the foreign policy community is, even if slanted, nonetheless a mix. Some process is therefore required for deciding which sources are credible and which methods of assessment are appropriate. Standards of professional expertise signal the relative credibility of different information sources and provide a procedural template for generating valid knowledge. As in the case of other professions, credibility and authoritative procedures for assessing knowledge in foreign policy circles are self-referential: those with high status and gatekeeping roles define what is authoritative. In contrast to the attempts at de-personalization and de-biasing that characterize standards of credibility in the scientific world (however much practice falls short), credibility in foreign policy circles is more obviously tied to social status and professional rank. Cues as to what constitutes a legitimate procedure for generating knowledge about the United States can also be inferred from the way members of the

221.  Interview 16. 222.  Interview 52. 223.  Interview 38.

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foreign policy community engage in overt reasoning. Taken together, the implicit epistemological standards prevailing in foreign policy circles are susceptible to strong self-confirmatory biases. While this means that beliefs may become entrenched in routine circumstances, it also means that once a shift in direction occurs, quite different beliefs could emerge relatively rapidly. For the time being, credible sources and acceptable models of expertise in foreign policy circles continue to underwrite beliefs about the United States that are relatively positive. Competition in the realm of professional expertise is, however, on the horizon.

6 Regime Interests, Beliefs, and Knowledge

When policymakers and foreign policy professionals in Southeast Asia speak of the United States as, overall, a benign power, they are doing more than simplifying a complex reality. The simplification provides rough-and-ready rules for action, making it possible to act in uncertain situations and to avoid going back to first principles every time a foreign policy decision is made. Foundational beliefs that identify friends, foes, and those who merit a wary watchfulness are relatively stable. They are also, this book has argued, driven by the regime interests of political powerholders and the career interests of foreign policy professionals. Foundational foreign policy beliefs thus not only simplify reality, they also allow the interests of particular political constituencies to enjoy the status of shared “national” interests. This status owes more to the defeat of rival domestic claimants for power than reasoned attempts to calculate the net effect of U.S. actions across the region. Since World War II, American actions have been helpful to ruling elites and successful contenders for power in the noncommunist countries, providing them with direct material and diplomatic support during periods of political contention as well as longer-term access to economic resources and the American market. These benefits made it easier for ruling groups to secure their political positions and laid the foundations for the convergence of interests that has been maintained for much of the last sixty years. Key to understanding the concordance of interests between Southeast Asian ruling elites and the United States is the fundamentally capitalist nature of regimes in the region. Powerholders who steered their countries into alignment or formal alliance with the United States 190

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were not just capitalist in the sense of presiding over capitalist economic systems but, as described in chapter 3, held significant interests in these systems. Governments have nurtured a substantial business class within their own echelons, creating state-owned enterprises that provided the vehicles for both private wealth acquisition and institutionalized capital ownership. Political elites also developed alliances with private capital, creating a class of privileged investors who benefited from the selective enforcement of private property rights, statecreated rents, and other favorable policy orientations. A more general political bargain was also struck with private capital, both domestic and foreign: minimum guarantees of private property, investor rights, and labor-repressive industrial relations systems in return for the investment on which economic growth rested. The alignment of interests between the United States and anticommunist ruling groups has not been absolute. Even less does it mean that Southeast Asian governments have passively acquiesced to American demands. Their ability to extract maximum concessions from the United States while often conceding relatively little in return has been most comprehensively charted in the case of the Philippine oligarchy, but other anticommunist leaders have also been adroit in this respect.1 Disagreements have emerged at times when the United States has been unwilling to play the role of relatively generous and undemanding partner, as occurred in the 1990s, when it became less forgiving of the illiberal political and economic policies of its long-term friends. The American “war on terror” in the years after 2001 returned the United States to a more conciliatory stance, willing to lend support to ruling groups that could promise stability.2 Thus while no government wishes the United States to dominate the region in the sense of dictating terms, powerholders have been relatively comfortable with American predominance, even when its international actions provoke widespread condemnation. Rather than American preeminence, the relative decline in American economic capacity in the wake of its financial crisis of 2008 is likely to be more significant in provoking a reappraisal of alignment. If the decline endures, the United States will have a reduced capacity to serve the regime maintenance interests of ruling groups in Southeast Asia. Its image as a benign hegemon is likely to fade in these circumstances, regardless of whether its actions serve more diffuse general interests. Members of the foreign policy community are not necessarily being cynically self-serving when they assert that American hegemony has produced general benefits in Southeast Asia. Their assertions are shaped by self-interest, but 1.  Bonnor 1987; Cullather 2007; Tyner 2007. 2.  Robison 2006.

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through cognitive processes that mask the motivated nature of the belief. Foreign policy professionals are also responding to cues generated by their epistemic environment: the information produced as part of doing foreign policy work, circles of professional recognition and authority, commonly accessed news sources, and shared understandings of national history. Both historical and foreign policy knowledge are markedly asymmetrical in terms of how they present information that can be read as evidence for forming judgments about the United States. Information that speaks to the benefits of U.S. hegemony is more abundant and more available than information about the costs of American actions in the region. This is not because the potential supply of positive information is greater or inherently more worthy. Rather, it is because the production of knowledge in both spheres tends to filter out much of the information that relates to the negative aspects of the American role in the region–or presents the harm done to particular groups as a national benefit, albeit one construed in rather abstract and sanitized terms. Thus, for example, America’s wars in Indochina, which claimed around a million deaths and an even larger toll in terms of other casualties and environmental damage in Vietnam alone, are recalled in parts of the foreign policy community of other Southeast Asian countries as an instance of American sacrifice that “held the tide” and “bought time” for the region.3 Past Chinese “meddling” in Southeast Asia is more frequently recalled than interference by the United States, despite being modest when compared with American meddling and involvement in political violence.4 There is significant variation in how members of the foreign policy community construe actions of the United States in Southeast Asia. But to the extent that positive representations of the American role in the region prevail among the groups that have benefited from it, the beliefs that express these representations are not only the product of biases in the information environment. They are also a product of very human ways of accessing and using evidence. Experimental research in psychology continues to investigate the precise mechanisms that account for how people form beliefs, but there is much cumulative evidence that beliefs are influenced by motivated (or functionally self-interested), cognitive, and affective biases. We “prefer” (although generally unconsciously) beliefs that do not arouse negative affect, and generally this means beliefs that present our actions and motives in a good light. We also prefer beliefs that are neatly ordered and patterned, that arrange similar causes with similar effects, and that present coherent causal explanations rather than acknowledging randomness or uncertainty. We tend to overestimate both our own knowledge and the probability of 3.  Hirschman, Preston, and Loi 1995; Stellman et al. 2003. 4.  Hamilton-Hart 2010.

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outcomes that conform with what we construe as representative examples or attributes. These tendencies are not determinative. We do not always believe what we want or the neater explanation. In many cases, “corrective feedback” is spontaneously produced and sufficiently compelling to produce belief adjustment even if the belief is unwelcome. In some circumstances, people make efforts to reason probabilistically and may take deliberate steps to minimize the intrusion of their own affective commitments. Sometimes people seek out disconfirming evidence, wrestle with tradeoffs, and contend with contradictions. If we extrapolate the findings of laboratory work, however, the circumstances and procedures that are conducive to this kind of effortful and possibly uncomfortable reasoning do not characterize most foreign policy work. Especially in cases of foundational foreign policy beliefs that sort other countries into benign and not-so-benign categories, “corrective feedback” is likely to be compelling only when it is direct, unambiguous, and experienced personally. So foreign policy elites should be expected to take notice when the actions of another country directly harm their own interests. Much of the “feedback” about the effects of actions by another country are not, however, of this type. Rather, the evidence is ambiguous, the causal lines uncertain, and working out aggregate cost-benefit effects involves dealing with messy, often incommensurable, data. Most foreign policy players lack material motives (and the time) to question whether policies that serve them well also serve other sections of their society or other societies. They also lack epistemic motives—this is not a form of reasoning and evaluation that is suggested by the modes of knowledge generation that prevail in professional foreign policy circles, nor are they on display in mainstream discussions of national history. Their reliance on familiar, shared assumptions is not specific to the Southeast Asian foreign policy milieu. As argued by Peter Katzenstein and Rudra Sil, “Getting trapped in unexamined premises is as easy for the adherents of all research traditions as it is for proponents of public policy.”5 Testing these arguments empirically is challenging. The behavioralist solution—to cut out beliefs as epiphenomenal—can offer predictive leverage to the extent that there is a tight enough fit between externally measured (presumed) interests or motivators and externally measured behavior, so that anything in between can be ignored as uninteresting. However, sometimes the fit between interests and behavior is loose and, even in cases where the two are closely aligned, ignoring the intervening beliefs means leaving out what makes behavior possible and intelligible to the actor.

5.  Katzenstein and Sil 2004, 21.

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If we accept beliefs as interesting and fundamental to international politics, it remains that they are hard to study. Finding evidence of how and why people believe the things they do is difficult outside laboratory settings, where the experimenter can manipulate potential causal variables and control the range of outcomes through the measurement scales of the protocol. Any applied work on beliefs confronts well-known problems of how to verify whether people are telling the truth about what they believe, about what they knew at a given moment in time, and about why they arrived at particular judgments. The issues go beyond ascertaining sincerity and hindsight biases. People often do not know why they believe what they do, as demonstrated by the ease with which causal explanations can be elicited to explain random patterns and false memories created through experimental manipulations. One solution pioneered by leading studies of beliefs in foreign policy settings is to turn to archival material, in an attempt to capture both sincere beliefs and the information environment. Using declassified internal records or other internal documentation and transcripts, scholars of foreign policy decision-making have been able to identify what information was available and trace the ways players used (or failed to use) that information to form judgments. They have thus been able to identify some of the biases and dynamics that favor certain beliefs over others in specific contexts.6 One exemplary study has shown that is possible to conduct quasi-experimental longitudinal research that tests not only the accuracy of expert beliefs but also the ways that subjects respond to belief-discrepant evidence.7 Neither of these approaches is feasible in the case of foreign policy beliefs in Southeast Asia, where transparency is generally much lower: almost all internal documentation remains classified even decades after events have unfolded, and outsiders almost never have the ability to secure reliable access to a pool of equally candid subjects over several years. Yet we have strong prior reasons for thinking that beliefs about history and strategic context matter. Studies of foreign policy in Southeast Asia frequently refer to the importance of historical memory for understanding bilateral relationships. These references include invocations of the “memory” of “Chinese interference” in the region, Singapore’s “trauma” of separation from Malaysia, the “historical baggage” created by Indonesia’s Confrontation of Malaysia, and “historical rivalries” influencing present-day relations between Thailand and its neighbors.8 Aspirations for independence or leadership status, anxieties based on beliefs about ethnic or religious difference, or “pragmatic” worldviews frequently

6.  For example, Janis 1972; Jervis 2010; Khong 1995; Mercer 1996. 7.  Tetlock 2005. 8.  For example, Alagappa 1998; Ganesan 1998, 2005; Ganesan and Amer 2010; Sukma 1999.

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appear as sources of foreign policy behavior.9 Such investigations of foreign policy have done much to document what policymakers, analysts, and others in the foreign policy community believe, or at least profess to believe. We thus know something of the genealogy of these beliefs, as they are reproduced within foreign policy circles. We still lack an understanding of why these beliefs form and get reproduced. Most studies of foreign policy in Southeast Asia have treated beliefs as naturalized responses to an objective external reality, with idiosyncratic personal factors or presumed cultural influences enlisted in ad hoc ways. One important analysis of Indonesian foreign policy leaves open the question of how accurate policymaker beliefs are, on the grounds that external validity is irrelevant for understanding the behavior that follows from beliefs.10 While true, this leaves uncertain the relationship between regime maintenance interests and the ways actors within the regime construe their interests. Some influential works on foreign policy and international politics in Southeast Asia lapse into casual acceptance of beliefs as not only sincere but also accurate.11 Treating beliefs in this way is often not warranted, as shown by those who have subjected statements of expressed belief to critical scrutiny.12 It appears, therefore, that beliefs matter but sometimes they are inaccurate, and very often they are not a simple reflection of an uncontested external reality. Even in the case of self-serving beliefs, it is still necessary to ask what makes the belief possible. This book has aimed to take a step toward identifying reasons why some beliefs not only are favored as useful but are also “possible” in ways that do not require us to assume that believers are either duplicitous or deluded. There is no way of knowing whether the professed beliefs are sincerely held. Some interviewees appeared to speak with candor, even indiscretion; others were reticent. Public statements and memoirs also vary in their apparent frankness. While there is no way to test for sincerity, we can take these statements as representing what policymakers and others believe to be appropriate to express, and for the purposes of this investigation that is (mostly) what counts. In terms of the factors potentially influencing beliefs, the book has aimed to establish the interests that subjects have in particular beliefs as well as the information asymmetries and belief-reinforcing epistemologies they are exposed to in national historical narratives and professional foreign policy knowledge. Tracing

  9.  For example, Acharya 2009; Anwar 1994; Chong 2006; Leifer 1983, 2000; Liow and Emmers 2006. 10.  Sukma 1999. 11.  For example, Leifer 2000. 12.  For example, Jones 2007, 2010; Pavin 2005; Rahim 2008, 2009.

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the cognitive processes through which interests and the epistemic environment impinge on belief formation is necessarily speculative due to data limits and the infeasibility of an experimental design. Political science does not offer good tools for dealing with the problems associated with studying beliefs (especially without large data sets), even though beliefs are central to many political dynamics. The exploration of the psychological argument offered in chapters 4 and 5 here thus owes more to historiography and anthropology than political science. What this book has uncovered are perhaps just suggestive snippets relating to belief formation, often based on the metacognitive statements of those in the foreign policy community. The evidence of what is not occurring is more certain: when it comes to core foreign policy beliefs, members of the foreign policy community are not, for the most part, engaging in attempts at systematic cost-benefit evaluations, probabilistic reasoning about risk and uncertainty, or robust discussion of potentially disconfirming evidence. If such calculative processes were in fact characteristic of the ways core foreign policy beliefs are generated and maintained, a stronger evidentiary trail would be available. In seeking to establish that some important foreign policy beliefs are not simply “obvious” responses to an uncontentious external reality, this book may have set the bar too low, if the standards of some leading studies of policymaker beliefs are adopted. Responding to the charge that history is a grab bag of endless lessons that policymakers can select from to justify virtually any course of action, Yuen Foong Khong’s account of the use of historical analogies by policymakers distinguished cognitive from motivated biases in belief formation.13 The way policymakers engaged in analogical historical reasoning could not, he argued, be reduced to policymakers simply having an interest in learning one lesson over another. In contrast, this book has argued that interests are significant, although not totalizing, drivers of beliefs. One need not exclude self-interest in order to establish beliefs as independent enough to be worthy of study. There is increasing consensus among psychologists that motivated, cognitive, and affective biases are inextricably interlinked. History is indeed a grab bag, but those who reach into it in apparently selfserving ways are not necessarily merely making instrumental use of it: their hands are guided by forces that they do not, in an immediate sense, control. The foreign policy professionals in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia who cited a past existential communist threat as a reason for their present-day perceptions of China and the United States were taking their cues from the national historical narrative that enjoyed virtually unquestioned status in mainstream circles

13.  Khong 1995. See also the discussion in Jervis 1976, 217–227.

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until very recently. The production of historical knowledge in these countries has been political but often not transparently so. Victorious political leaders have written the history personally and controlled the process of history-writing. Perhaps more importantly, their perspectives have successfully claimed the national ground; those who have challenged these histories as partisan have done so only on the margins. For most foreign policy professionals, investigating the alternative histories that call into question the dominant narrative would require deliberate effort. What the historical record yields thus depends on how it has been written and who has written it. Similarly, what the news tells us about the world and the actions of the United States depends on the news sources we most regularly access. What is “common sense” and enjoys authoritative endorsement by highstatus insiders depends on which organization and social world we inhabit. In the case of Southeast Asian foreign policy elites, the factors that influence foundational beliefs have roots in the political contests that played out in the region and the identities of those who took positions on either side. Even in the noncommunist countries, there was variation in the nature of the domestic cleavages that came to separate political forces friendly to the United States from those who acquired more suspicious or critical attitudes. Anticommunism was most totalizing in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore and was used explicitly as a means of tarring all leftist opposition. The effectiveness and durability of authoritarian rule in these countries produced a high degree of uniformity in the production of historical and other knowledge in these countries. Social and educational cleavages also coincided more neatly with political divides and contests than in Thailand or the Philippines. Although the Singapore ruling elite later coopted a small number of former left-wing student activists, these past identities seem to have been subsumed by the more powerful discourse of embedded anticommunism. Singapore’s long-serving foreign minister, S. Rajaratnam, the former newsman turned politician who penned the authoritative account of the ruling party’s rise to power and defeat of its own left wing, later dismissed anti–Vietnam War protestors as vacuous drifters attempting to be fashionable.14 The environment created by Rajaratnam and Lee Kuan Yew and reproduced many times over by other officials, history-writers, and regime supporters was hyperbolically anticommunist. The few former dissenters drawn into elite circles appear to have adapted to it. A leading Singapore diplomat, Tommy Koh, for example, had been a member of the (later forcibly

14.  Rajaratnam 1975, 114.

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disbanded) Socialist Club at the University of Malaya in Singapore.15 There is not a glimmer of recognition given to these earlier commitments in Tommy Koh’s extensive later writing on the United States, which (apart from murmurs about American human rights intrusions during the height of the “Asian values” wrangle in the early 1990s) have been fulsome in their praise of the United States and its role in the region.16 The social worlds of powerholders and foreign policy practitioners in Malaysia and Indonesia do not seem to contain even the pluralism of former socialists. Leftist groups had a relatively weak presence on university campuses in Indonesia prior to the anticommunist pogroms and military-backed takeover of government that started in late 1965.17 Both the takeover and the anticommunist demonstrations were backed by large student groups and important segments of the intelligentsia and the media as well as by popular Muslim organizations. Although many of these groups later emerged as critics of Suharto’s New Order, their complicity in its birth—and its unremitting anticommunism—would contribute to the absence of any sympathy with leftist narratives in policy circles. Even in Malaysia and Singapore, foreign policy professionals educated domestically recollected campus environments almost devoid of anti-American voices during the Vietnam War period.18 In contrast, the social world of the university campus—and hence the policy circle of the next generation—in Thailand and the Philippines was far more plural. Elite universities included radical as well as conservative voices. As one leftist Thai scholar has noted, Thailand “had its 1960s” in the 1970s—partly as a consequence of exposure to American protest movements.19 In stark contrast to Indonesia, although the left was politically defeated, many student leftists were reabsorbed into middle-class life, as professionals, politicians, businesspeople— and historians.20 Foreign policy professionals in Thailand and the Philippines thus drew very diverse lessons from history, and many were ambivalent or expressed uncertainty about the meaning of the past. It may not be coincidental that Thailand and the Philippines are also the Southeast Asian countries with

15.  The student circle also included another member who later moved into the foreign policy elite: Chan Heng Chee, Singapore’s long-serving ambassador to the United States. 16.  Koh 1995, 1997, 2004, 2008, 2009 are replete with assertions of the benefits of the U.S. presence in Southeast Asia. The Vietnam War—which Tommy Koh’s former fellows at the university Socialist Club roundly condemned—has no significance in this narrative. 17.  The PKI had a presence on campus and in leftist intellectual circles but was most active in the countryside. Those leftist intellectuals who survived the massacres of 1965–66 were imprisoned for years and subject to ongoing restrictions after release. 18.  There were student-led antiwar protests at this time. Weiss 2011. 19.  Ungpakorn 2003, 2006. 20.  Anderson 1993.

Regime Interests, Beliefs, and Knowledge  

    199

formal alliance relationships with the United States—the close proximity and domestic visibility of U.S. troops that allied status entails often seems to produce an awareness of the underside to the U.S. presence, a critical awareness that is reflected in attitudes toward U.S. bases in Okinawa and South Korea.21 Several Thais and Filipinos also noted that they were aware of their country’s status as a second class ally. It is also the case that the historical knowledge to which they had been exposed was more diverse than that easily available to their Singaporean, Malaysian, and Indonesian counterparts, and the social context in which they had acquired it was more plural. The level of elite cohesion and uniformity in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia is related to the durability of authoritarian rule and illiberalism in these countries.22 Indonesia’s democratic transition from 1998 came only after thirtytwo long years of authoritarianism. The relative stability of authoritarian rule in these countries should not be mistaken as the product of a quiescent political landscape. Rather, it was the product of elite responses to significant challenges in the early postwar decades.23 Rival groups who contested definitions of national interest were not only defeated politically, they were also largely excluded from arenas of knowledge construction. At least in this group of countries, the roots of alignment with the United States have more to do with authoritarianism than any convergence of liberal values. Less stable authoritarian rule and less cohesive intra-elite dynamics in Thailand and the Philippines produced greater diversity and ambivalence in beliefs about the United States, even within foreign policy circles in these countries. Even so, their early alignment with the United States was more materially related to a “U.S. opportunity” in terms of domestic political advantage than a “China threat” emanating from outside. As China becomes increasingly powerful and the relative position of the United States declines, ruling groups in Southeast Asia are likely to reappraise their interests and their identification of foreign threats and opportunities. We can expect them, however, to construe their interests in ways that reflect their domestic political bases and ideological commitments, along with the causal narratives and modules of information that support them. Social and political change within Southeast Asian countries is thus likely to prompt a reappraisal of interests. Such change may coincide with regime transitions, as it did in the case of the transition from Sukarno to Suharto in Indonesia in 1966: a decisive shift in the political constituency served by those in power not only meant foreign policy realignment but was also accompanied by a purge of personnel in the foreign

21.  Johnson 2000; McCormack 2010. 22.  Rodan and Jayasuriya 2009; Sidel 2008. 23.  Slater 2010.

200    

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ministry and a significant adjustment in the foreign policy beliefs of those who remained.24 In contrast, other regime transitions, including the end of military dominance in Thailand, the defeat of President Marcos in the Philippines, and the fall of Suharto in 1998 involved substantial continuity in the socioeconomic bases of regime support. Beliefs in the foreign policy communities of these countries, therefore, did not change radically as a result of these transitions. Although the end of the Indonesia’s New Order in 1998 provided for substantial continuity in Indonesia’s political and economic elite and hence did not usher in significant change in prevailing foreign policy wisdom, Indonesia is the country where social and political change is most likely to bring about revision of foundational foreign policy beliefs. Such change will probably not involve the rehabilitation or reconstitution of the political left, which remains marginal, but is more likely to be a product of the rise of self-consciously Islamic voices within politics. Islamic constituencies are gaining increasing representation in foreign policy circles. As one Indonesian respondent put it, “Deplu has opened its doors”; the organization now consults with various social groups, including large Muslim organizations, at weekly breakfast meetings. These groups are also often influential in parliamentary hearings and through interaction with the parliamentary commission responsible for security and foreign policy as well as through personal contacts and ties with ministers and officials.25 Much of the Islamic political and intellectual elite has been united with those groups privileged by the New Order in terms of anticommunism.26 This elite is, however, more sensitive to those actions of the United States that can be constructed as anti-Muslim.27 Postauthoritarian political change in Indonesia has also meant that sections within the political elite are answerable to a different political constituency, one that takes its cues from a rather different narrative of world events and normative order than the capitalist developmentalism that framed expert knowledge during the Cold War.28 How these changes will play out is uncertain. If the United States acts against the interests of currently privileged groups, we can expect to see an increase in the kind of political discourse that was sanctioned by the “Asian values” rhetoric

24.  Sukma 1998. See also the discussion in chapters 3 and 5. 25.  Interview 12. See also Anak Agung 2007; Sukma 2003. 26.  Budiawan 2004; Hadiz 2006b; Sidel 2001; Suhelmi 2007. 27.  Bourchier 2006. 28.  Some fundamental challenges to this paradigm of capitalist developmentalism remain somewhat marginal, dressed in the idiom of an exclusive Islamism that has limited appeal within Indonesia. On the other hand, new intellectual currents that draw from nonwestern, noncapitalist intellectual traditions are more pervasive and resonate among some groups that are active in Indonesia’s new democracy. Ahnaf 2006; Bubalo and Fealy 2005.

Regime Interests, Beliefs, and Knowledge  

    201

of the 1990s.29 This can merge with entrenched anticommunism that takes an anti-American flavor. In one Malaysian account, the country is described as successfully resisting a U.S. strategy to “ensure that Southeast Asia continued to remain dependent on it through the 1997 assault on the shares and capital markets.” Hence, “the Malaysian Government successfully crippled the agents of the international superpowers which hid behind political reformation movements which were actually a continuation of foreign intervention in this country, beginning with the international communist movement, Islamic extremists, Malaysian Malaysia (Chinese racism) and globalisation.”30 Such voices have yet to gain traction within narrowly defined foreign policy circles, but they suggest the potential contours of a set of alternative narratives about the United States. Like the more conventional beliefs that currently prevail in foreign policy circles, such beliefs make interests legitimate and allow for action in the face of uncertainty and contradictory information. While arriving at different conclusions, they are formed in essentially similar ways.

29.  For example, Mahbubani 2008. 30.  Zainuddin 2004, 4–5. See also Ruhaini 2005.

Appendix

Interviews No.

Country

 1

Indonesia

 2

Indonesia

 3  4

Indonesia Indonesia

 5  6

Indonesia Indonesia

 7

Indonesia

 8

Indonesia

 9

Indonesia

10

Indonesia

11 12

Indonesia Indonesia

Organization or professional role

Department of Foreign Affairs, ambassador (ret.) Department of Foreign Affairs, senior foreign policy official Foreign policy adviser and analyst Department of Foreign Affairs, senior foreign policy official Jakarta Post, senior editorial staff Centre for Strategic and Inter­ national Studies (CSIS), foreign policy analyst; University of Indonesia, academic CSIS, foreign policy analyst; academic Kompas, senior journalist, foreign affairs CSIS, foreign policy and security sector analyst; University of Indonesia, academic Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), deputy chairman, Social Sciences and Humanities; scholar University of Indonesia, academic CSIS, executive director; Univer­ sity of Indonesia, academic; Muhammadiyah, Central Execu­ tive Board, chairman for inter­ national relations

Name

Date of Interview

Wiryono Sastrohandoyo

16 July 2007

Anonymity requested

17 July 2007

C. P. F. Luhulima Anonymity requested Anonymity requested Edy Prasetyono

17 July 2007 18 July 2007; 27 June 2007 18 July 2007 17 July 2007

Shifah Fifi Muhibat

17 July 2007

Y Rakaryan Sukarjaputra Kusnanto Anggoro

18 July 2007

Dewi Fortuna Anwar

23 July 2007

Makmur Keliat Rizal Sukma

23 July 2007 24 July 2007

19 July 2007

(Continued) 203

204    

 Appendix

(Continued)

No.

Country

13

Indonesia

14

Malaysia

15

Malaysia

16

Malaysia

17

Malaysia

18

Malaysia

19

Malaysia

20 21

Malaysia Malaysia

22 23 24

Malaysia Malaysia Malaysia

25

Malaysia

26

Malaysia

27

Malaysia

28

Malaysia

29 30

Malaysia Malaysia

31

Malaysia

32

Malaysia

33

Philippines

34

Philippines

35

Philippines

Organization or professional role

CSIS, senior fellow and founding member; Jakarta Post, board member Politician, newspaper editor, and non-career ambassador (ret.) University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Department of Strategic Studies and International Rela­ tions, academic (ret.) Institute of Strategic and Interna­ tional Studies (ISIS), chairman University of Malaya, Depart­ ment of International Relations, academic University of Malaya, Department of Southeast Asian Studies, academic Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, management staff and editor Ministry of Defence, analyst UKM (ret.); Ministry of Foreign Affairs, former official Former political aide ISIS UKM, Department of Strate­ gic Studies and International Relations, academic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassador (ret.) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassador (ret.) INPUMA (government training institute), executive director; academic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior official ISIS, deputy director Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior official English language daily newspaper, editorial staff member Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior official University of the Philippines, aca­ demic; Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISDS) ABS-CBN, senior editor; foreign affairs analyst De La Salle University, Inter­ national Studies Department, academic; Department of Foreign Affairs, former official

Name

Date of Interview

Jusuf Wanandi

7 August 2007

Abdullah Ahmad

14 May 2007

Anonymity requested

15 May 2007

Mohamed Jawhar Hassan K. S. Balakrishnan

16 May 2007

Anonymity requested

17 May 2007

Sharifah Shifa Al-Attas

17 May 2007

Anonymity requested Zakaria Hj. Ahmad

20 May 2007 21 May 2007

Anonymity requested Anonymity requested Kamarulnizam Abdullah

21 May 2007 22 May 2007 22 May 2007

Anonymity requested

23 May 2007

Anonymity requested

25 May 2007

Khadijah Khalid

28 May 2007

Anonymity requested

29 May 2007

Stephen Leong Anonymity requested

29 May 2007 29 May 2007

Anonymity requested

30 May 2007

Anonymity requested

31 May 2007

Carolina Hernandez

5 June 2008

Isagani de Castro

29 May 2008

Renato Cruz de Castro

30 May 2008; 4 July 2008

16 May 2007

Appendix  

No.

Country

36 37 38

Philippines Philippines Philippines

39

Philippines

40 41 42

Philippines Philippines Philippines

43

Singapore

44

Singapore

45

Singapore

46

Singapore

47

Singapore

48

Singapore

49

Singapore

50

Singapore

51

Singapore

52

Thailand

53

Thailand

54

Thailand

55

Thailand

56

Thailand

57

Thailand

58

Thailand

59

Thailand

60

Thailand

Organization or professional role

Name

    205

Date of Interview

Senior security sector official Senior security sector official University of the Philippines academic; ISDS University of the Philippines, academic; National Defense College, former president Senior military officer (ret.) Senior military officer Department of Foreign Affairs, ambassador (ret.); former ASEAN secretary general Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambas­ sador (ret.) Singapore Institute of Inter­ national Affairs, chairman Policy and research institute, senior staff member Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior official Straits Times, former senior jour­ nalist and foreign editor Institute of Policy Studies, direc­ tor; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassador (ret.); former ASEAN secretary general ISEAS, director; Ministry of For­ eign Affairs, ambassador (ret.) Institute of Policy Studies, associ­ ate director Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, dean; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassador and per­ manent secretary (ret.) Thammasat University, scholar; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, diplomat (ret.) Institute of Strategic and Inter­ national Studies (ISIS), direc­ tor; Chulalongkorn University, academic Thammasat University, academic

Anonymity requested Anonymity requested Herman Kraft

1 July 2008 1 July 2008 2 July 2008

Clarita Carlos

2 July 2008

Anonymity requested Anonymity requested Rodolfo Severino

3 July 2008 3 July 2008 12 February 2009

Mark Hong

Ong Keng Yong

9 February 2009 18 February 2009 4 March 2009 5 March 2009 11 March 2009 23 June 2009

K. Kesavapany

2 July 2009

Chang Li Lin

9 July 2009

Kishore Mahbubani

24 August 2009

Prapat Thepchatree

25 September 2007

Thitinan Pongsudhirak

25 September 2007

Kitti Prasirtsuk

Chulalongkorn University, aca­ demic; ISIS, former director English language daily newspaper, senior journalist Chulalongkorn University, academic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassador Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassador (ret.) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassador (ret.) and senior policymaker

Pranee Thiparat

26 September 2007 26 September 2007 19 February 2008 25 February 2008 26 February 2008 26 February 2008 27 February 2008

Simon Tay Anonymity requested Anonymity requested Warren Fernandez

Anonymity requested Ake Tangsupvattana Anonymity requested Asda Jayanama Anonymity requested

(Continued)

206    

 Appendix

(Continued)

No.

Country

61

Thailand

62

Thailand

63

Thailand

64

Thailand

65

Vietnam

66

Vietnam

67

Vietnam

68

Vietnam

69

Vietnam

70

Vietnam

71

Vietnam

72

Vietnam

73

Vietnam

74

Vietnam

Organization or professional role

Name

Date of Interview

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior official (ret.) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior official Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior official ISIS, former director

Anonymity requested

Vietnam National University, senior academic Vietnam Academy of Social Sci­ ences, Institute of American Studies, director Vietnam Academy of Social Sci­ ences, researcher Hanoi University, International Studies faculty, dean Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, researcher Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, researcher Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambas­ sador (ret.) Vietnam National University, Department of Diplomatic His­ tory, director; Ministry of For­ eign Affairs, ambassador (ret.) Vietnam National University, academic Research institute (Hanoi), scholar

Anonymity requested

27 February 2008 28 February 2008 28 February 2008 28 February 2008 2007–2009

Nguyen Thiet Son

2007–2009

Anonymity requested

2007–2009

Bui Phuong Lan

2007–2009

Anonymity requested

2007–2009

Anonymity requested

2007–2009

Anonymity requested

2007–2009

Vu Duong Huan

2007–2009

Anonymity requested

2007–2009

Anonymity requested

2007–2009

Anonymity requested Anonymity requested Kusuma Snitwongse

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Index

Abdurrahman Wahid, 102 Acheson, Dean, 53 Afghanistan, 161, 171–72 Africa, 3, 118 Agoncillo, Teodoro, 107–8, 138–39 Al Jazeera, 166, 168 Ali Alatas, 155, 161 Alliance Party (Malaysia), 63 American Political Science Association’s Congressional Fellows program, 182 Anwar Ibrahim, 64 Aquino, Benigno “Ninoy”, 158 Aquino, Corazon, 51 ASEAN, 25, 137, 147, 157, 164 – 65, 173, 175 –77, 183 ASEAN-ISIS network, 183 Asia Foundation, 5, 173, 181–83 Asia Pacific Roundtable, 183 Asia Society, 183, 185 Asian Wall Street Journal, 159 Asian-African Conference. See Bandung Conference Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), 165 Aung San, 164 Australia, 3, 58, 61, 163, 180 Baez, Joan, 130, 163 Bali, 7 Bandung Conference, 118–19 Bangkok, 23, 52, 152 banking Indonesia, 69–70, 72 Malaysia, 68 Singapore, 69 Thailand, 72, 78 See also World Bank Bao Dai, 23, 52 BBC, 166, 168– 69 Beijing, 113, 147, 153 Bem, Daryl, 35 Berlin, Isaiah, 43 biased scanning, 35 –36 Bonifacio, Andreas, 107 Border Patrol Police (Thailand), 141

Borneo, 61, 114 Britain. See Great Britain Brunei, 62 Bumiputera, 63 Burma, 122, 164, 178 Bush, George W., 5, 8, 45, 86, 145 – 46, 185 Cambodia, 22–23, 46, 49, 53, 115, 119–22, 134 –37, 163– 64, 175 –76 Canada, 3 capitalism, 24, 51, 57, 62, 68, 71, 73, 85, 190 –91, 200 Carr, E.H., 85 Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) (Indonesia), 173, 183 Cheah Boon Keng, 59, 97–98 Chin Peng, 60 China aggression, 110, 116 –17, 121, 129 communism, 16, 98–99, 108, 111, 113, 115, 121, 142 Indonesia, relations with, 114 –17, 160, 165 international influence, 86, 109, 118, 147, 173–74, 199 Malaysia, relations with, 59– 60, 63, 66, 72, 96 –98, 113–15, 153 media coverage, 168– 69 military activity, 3, 35, 133–34 Philippines, relations with, 127–28 PRC, 111, 113, 128, 153 Singapore, relations with, 111 Thailand, relations with, 121–22, 188 Vietnam, relations with, 14, 88, 119, 129, 131–34 China Television (CTV), 168 Chiu, Catherine, 73 Chronicle of Singapore, 93 Chulalongkorn University, 122 Churchill, Winston, 89 CIA, 56, 64, 117, 136, 182, 186 Clinton, Bill, 58, 66, 158 CNN, 159, 166 –70 Colonial Office (United Kingdom), 96 Common Dreams, 167

237

238    

 INDEX

communism China, 16, 98–99, 108, 111, 113, 115, 121, 142 Indonesia, 23, 55 –56, 90, 100 –103, 115, 119, 141– 42, 165, 196 –97 Malaysia, 59– 60, 63, 90, 93–100, 112–14, 165, 196 –97 media coverage, 93–94, 96, 100 –101, 121 Philippines, 90, 104, 106 –8, 123–24, 128, 139, 165 Singapore, 90 –95, 109, 111, 165, 196 –97 Thailand, 52–54, 90, 104 – 6, 120 –22, 140 – 42, 165 Vietnam, 110, 115 Communist Party of China, 113 Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), 59– 60, 93–100, 111, 113–14, 139 Communist Party of Thailand (CPT), 106, 121, 141 Communist United Front (CUF), 94 –95 Confrontation (Indonesia), 61– 63, 111–13, 119, 160 – 61 consensus seeking, 37–38, 136, 152 Constantino, Renato, 107, 125, 127 Cotton, James, 66 Council of Foreign Relations, 185 Counterpunch, 167 Crone, Donald, 75, 77, 79 Cumings, Bruce, 67 democracy Indonesia, 58–59, 72, 102, 140, 199 Malaysia, 64, 114, 149 Philippines, 50, 126 Singapore, 92, 149 Thailand, 51–52, 54 Vietnam, 149–50 Democratic Action Party (Malaysia), 63 Democratic Kampuchea, 164 Department of Foreign Affairs (Deplu) (Indonesia), 184 –85, 200 Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) (Philippines), 123, 153, 180, 184 Development Bank of Singapore, 69 Deyo, Frederick, 75 Dhanabalan, S., 137 Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, 131–32 dissonance reduction, 30 –31, 35 –36 domino theory, 109, 120, 123–24, 152 Dove, Michael, 83–84 East Timor, 15, 58, 137, 161, 176 economic crisis (1997-98), 26, 58, 64, 70 –71, 85 economic crisis (2008), 24, 69, 86, 191

Economist, 81, 166, 169 elections Indonesia, 7, 23, 57, 59 Malaysia, 63, 95 Philippines, 51 Singapore, 23, 62, 65, 91, 95 Thailand, 55 Emergency (Malaysia), 59– 60, 63, 95 –97, 99, 139 Emmerson, Donald, 183 Employment Act (Singapore), 80 Encyclopedia of Malaysia, The, 99, 114 Farid, Hilmar, 83 fascism, 51, 129 Festinger, Leon, 36 Financial Times, 166, 169 Fonda, Jane, 130 Fong Swee Suan, 90 Ford Foundation, 182 foreign direct investment (FDI), 67 Foreign Service Institute (Philippines), 125 foundations, 180 –84 Fox News, 167 France, 23, 52, 119–20, 133 Frederick, Shane, 44 Free Thai movement, 178 Fulbright Program, 181 G30S/PKI movement, 101, 116, 162 Galtung, Johan, 170 Gestapu, 101, 111 Ghazali Shafie, 113–14, 155, 161 Gilovich, Thomas, 41 government-linked companies (GLCs), 69, 71 Great Britain, 51, 59– 60, 96, 169–70, 180 Guardian, 166, 172–73 guerrilla movements, 59, 95, 97, 99, 105, 107 Hamzah Haz, 7 Hanoi, 133–34, 163– 64 Harvard Seminar, 182 Hatta, Mohammad, 118 Henry Luce Foundation, 182 Hewison, Kevin, 73 History of Thailand, 140 Ho Chi Minh, 52, 119–20, 123, 128–29 Hong Kong, 44, 109 Hong Lysa, 92 Huang Jianli, 92 Hukbalahap (Huk), 50, 107, 138–39 Human Development Index (HDI), 74 –75 Human Poverty Index (HPI), 74, 82 Hutchroft, Paul, 71

INDEX  

Ibrahim, Anwar, 99 Ileto, Rafael, 180 Ileto, Reynaldo, 107 IMF, 26, 54, 58 Independent, 166 India, 3, 110, 147, 150, 164, 169 Indochina, 120, 123, 129, 136, 191 Indochina Reconciliation Project, 129 Indonesia banking, 69–70, 72 capitalism, 57 China, relations with, 114 –17, 160, 165 communism, 23, 55 –56, 90, 100 –103, 115, 119, 141– 42, 165, 196 –97 Confrontation, 61– 63, 111–13, 119, 160 – 61 coups, 56, 102, 115 –17, 161 democracy, 58–59, 72, 102, 140, 199 domestic power struggles, 22–23, 55 –56 East Timor invasion, 15, 58, 137, 161, 176 economic environment, 57–58, 69–70, 74 –76, 81–84 elections, 7, 23, 57, 59 exports, 84 foreign ministry, 161, 176, 178–79, 184 GDP per capita, 74, 84 Gini coefficient, 76, 82–83 government health spending, 76 historical biases, 14, 100 –103, 135, 138– 40, 196 –97 internationalist neutrality, 55 –56 labor involvement, 57–58, 73 Malaysia, relations with, 111–13, 160 – 61, 194 mass killings, 56 –57, 86, 101–3, 139– 40 media coverage, 102, 167– 68, 170 –72 military activity, 56 –58, 69, 101–2, 117, 139– 40 Muslims, 57–59, 140 New Order, 57–58, 72–73, 81–84, 100 –103, 115 –16, 119, 139– 40, 161– 62, 178, 200 political environment, 22–23, 27, 56 –59, 100 –103, 115 –19, 160 – 62, 165, 199–200 poverty, 74, 81–82 private sector, 71–72 redistributive policies, 75 –76, 81–84 state-owned sector, 69–71 student groups, 140, 198 textbook histories, 101–3, 117–19, 138–39 trade agreements, 83 United States, relations with, 7–8, 13–14, 22–23, 49, 55 –59, 61, 68, 85, 115 –19, 137– 40, 145 – 46 Industrial Relations Act (Malaysia), 63 industrial relations regimes, 25, 73, 80, 191

    239

Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), 183 Institute of International Relations, 131–32 Internal Security Act (ISA) (Malaysia), 60, 63, 65 Internal Security Act (Singapore), 94 Internal Security Department (Singapore), 93 International Herald Tribune, 166 – 68, 170 Iran, 159– 60 Iraq, 5 –7, 55, 127, 129, 138, 145 – 46, 159– 60, 167–72, 186 Israel, 146, 168– 69 Jakarta, 82, 118, 186 Jakarta Post, 170 –72 Janis, Irving, 37 Japan, 3, 5, 16, 51, 59, 67, 75, 84, 100, 125, 147 Java, 82–83, 117 Jayanama, Asda, 120, 143 Jayanama, Soravis, 23, 52 Jemaah Islamiah, 171 Jervis, Robert, 28 Jesudason, James, 63 Jit Phumisak, 105, 123 Johnson, Lyndon, 132 Kahneman, Daniel, 40, 44 Kammen, Daniel, 83–84 Kasian Tejapira, 105 – 6 Katzenstein, Peter, 8, 193 Kennedy, John F., 120, 187 Keohane, Robert, 8 Ketuanan Melayu, 99 Khmer Rouge, 120, 122, 135 –37, 164, 175 Khong, Yuen Foong, 196 Kissinger, Henry, 129, 132, 182 Koh, Tommy, 137, 197–98 Kompas, 170 –72 Konoe Fumimaro, 16 Korean War, 109, 121, 124 Kruglanski, Arie, 33, 37 Kuala Lumpur, 62– 63, 158 Kublai Kahn, 117 Kuwait, 159 Laos, 22–23, 46, 49, 53, 111, 115, 122, 136, 163 Lee Hsien Loong, 147 Lee Kuan Yew, 26, 62, 64 – 66, 90 –93, 109, 111, 147, 197 Lembaga Inggeris Amerika, 185 Lim, Peter, 93 Lim Chin Siong, 87, 90 –91, 93–94 Lim Hock Siew, 94 Lockhart, Bruce, 133 Lon Nol, 22

240    

 INDEX

London, 62, 171 Lord Palmerston, 1 Luang Wichitwathakan, 104 Luce, Henry, 182, 187 Luce Scholars Program, 182 Luu Van Loi, 133–34 Macapagal-Arroyo, Gloria, 51 Magsaysay, Ramon, 139 Mahathir Mohamad, 7, 26, 64, 66, 96, 145, 148, 153–54, 158 Mahbubani, Kishore, 109 Majapahit, 112 Malaya. See Malaysia Malayan Communist Party (MCP). See Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), 97 Malaysia banking, 68 capitalism, 62 China, relations with, 59– 60, 63, 66, 72, 96 –98, 113–15, 153 communism, 59– 60, 63, 90, 93–100, 112–14, 165, 196 –97 democracy, 64, 114, 149 domestic power struggles, 22–24, 59– 63, 113 economic environment, 68– 69, 74 –76, 79 elections, 63, 95 Emergency, 59– 60, 63, 95 –97, 99, 139 exports, 59– 60, 79 foreign ministry, 153, 155, 157–58, 160, 163, 176 –77, 179 GDP per capita, 74, 79 Gini coefficient, 76 government health spending, 76, 79 Great Britain, relations with, 59– 62, 96, 112 historical biases, 14, 95 –100, 139, 196 –97 income, 46 Indonesia, relations with, 111–13, 160 – 61, 194 labor involvement, 60, 63, 73 media coverage, 60, 63, 97, 168– 69, 172 military activity, 60, 114 political environment, 22–23, 59– 64, 69, 72, 75, 95 –100, 153–56, 201 poverty, 74, 79 private sector, 68– 69, 71–72 redistributive policies, 75 –76, 79 Singapore, relations with, 59, 61– 64, 111–12, 194 state-owned sector, 68–71 student groups, 96

textbook histories, 99–100 United States, relations with, 7–8, 13–14, 22–24, 49, 59– 64, 85, 115, 145, 148–50, 180, 185 Marcos, Ferdinand, 28, 50 –51, 108, 124, 128, 139, 155, 158, 200 Marcos, Imelda, 108 Marshall, David, 87 Marxism, 91, 94, 101, 105, 108, 123, 133 McNamara, Robert, 129, 132 media coverage bias, 167–72, 188 China, 168– 69 communism, 93–94, 96, 100 –101, 121 Indonesia, 102, 167– 68, 170 –72 Iraq, 167–72 magazines, 81, 166, 169, 187 Malaysia, 60, 63, 97, 168– 69, 172 newspapers, 93–94, 159, 166 –73, 182 “peace journalism”, 170 –71 Philippines, 127, 171 radio broadcasts, 186 rebuttals, 162 Singapore, 66, 166, 171 television, 159, 166 –70 Thailand, 52, 166, 168 United States treatment, 12, 166 –73, 187–88 Vietnam, 166 websites, 167 Megawati Sukarnoputri, 7, 27 Melayu Raya (Greater Malay Nation), 112 minimum wage, 78 Ministry of Education (Singapore), 92 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Thailand), 23 Ministry of Home Affairs (Singapore), 94 –95 Morocco, 158 Muslims, 57–59, 100, 111, 140, 146, 168, 172, 184, 198, 200 Myanmar, 146 Najib Abdul Razak, 7 “National History of Indonesia”, 117 National Library Board (Singapore), 93 National University of Singapore, 92 Nehru Jawaharlal, 164 Nesadurai, Helen, 21 New Economic Policy (NEP) (Malaysia), 68 New Order (Indonesia), 57–58, 72–73, 81–84, 100 –103, 115 –16, 119, 139– 40, 161– 62, 178, 200 New Statesman, 173 New York Times, 166 – 68, 171–72 New Zealand, 3, 61

INDEX  

newspapers. See media coverage Newsweek, 166 Ngo Dinh Diem, 22 Nguyen Khac Vien, 134 Nugroho Notosusanto, 100 –101 Obama, Barack, 172–73 oil industry, 57–58, 69–70, 124 Okinawa, 199 Operation Cold Store (Singapore), 92 Organization of the Islamic Conference Summit, 158 Palestine, 146, 169, 177 paramilitaries, 53–54 Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI), 56, 101–2, 111–12, 115 –16, 118, 141, 162 Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), 63 peasants, 57, 83, 107, 130 Peking, 133 People’s Action Party (PAP) (Singapore), 64 – 66, 91–93, 95 People’s Republic of China (PRC), 111, 113, 128, 153 permanent residents (PRs), 80 petroleum industry, 79 Phibun (Field Marshal Phibunsongkram), 52–53, 120 Philippines China, relations with, 127–28 communism, 90, 104, 106 –8, 123–24, 128, 139, 165 democracy, 50, 126 domestic power struggles, 22–24, 50 –51 economic environment, 49–51, 74 –77, 126 elections, 51 foreign ministry, 176, 179 GDP per capita, 74 Gini coefficient, 76 –77 government health spending, 76 historical biases, 14, 89, 106 –8, 123–28, 136 –39 media coverage, 127, 171 military activity, 50, 127–28 political environment, 22–23, 49–51, 75, 77, 104, 106 –8, 126, 153, 155, 158 poverty, 74, 77, 108, 138 private sector, 71 redistributive policies, 75 –77 state-owned sector, 70 student groups, 108 textbook histories, 51, 106 –7, 125, 131, 138–39 treaties, 6, 50

    241

United States, relations with, 6, 13, 22–25, 49–51, 68, 123–28, 138–39, 145, 149–50, 178, 184, 198–99 plantations, 57, 68– 69, 83–84 Poulgrain, Greg, 62 poverty, 53, 74 –75, 77–79, 81–82, 87, 108, 138 Pramoedya Ananta Toer, 101 Pridi Bhanomyong, 51, 104, 178 propaganda, 60, 93, 96, 98, 101– 4, 110, 113–16, 122, 160 – 61 PRRI/Permesta, 117–18 Quadrennial Defense Review, 159 Quirino, Elpidio, 107 Rajaratnam, S., 66, 91–92, 161, 197 Ramparts, 182 Reader’s Digest, 187–88 Reagan, Ronald, 106, 130 Reformasi movement (Malaysia), 64 Republika, 172 Revolt of the Masses, 107 riots, 63, 99 Risse-Kappen, Thomas, 12 Rizal, José, 107 Robin, Ron, 11 Rockefeller Foundation, 184 Rong Syamandanda, 140 Roosa, John, 103 Roxas, Manuel, 1, 127 Russell, Bertrand, 134 Sabah, 61, 79 Sabili, 167 Saddam Hussein, 159, 168, 171 Said Zahari, 94 Saigon, 163 Salim, Emil, 186 Sarawak, 61, 79 Sarit, 105 Scalapino, Robert, 183 See, Martyn, 94 Shangri La Dialogue, 173 Sheng, Michael, 16 Short, Anthony, 113 Sil, Rudra, 193 Simpson, Bradley, 57 Singapore banking, 69 China, relations with, 111 communism, 90 –95, 109, 111, 165, 196 –97 democracy, 92, 149 domestic power struggles, 22–24 economic environment, 69, 74, 76, 79–81

242    

 INDEX

Singapore (continued ) elections, 23, 62, 65, 91, 95 foreign ministry, 66, 91, 109, 137, 145, 161, 163, 197 GDP per capita, 74 Gini coefficient, 76, 80 government health spending, 76, 79–80 historical biases, 14, 90 –95, 136 –37, 139, 196 –97 income, 46 labor involvement, 62, 64, 73, 91 Malaysia, relations with, 59, 61– 64, 111–12, 194 media coverage, 66, 166, 171 personal confidence, 44 political environment, 22–23, 59, 62, 65 – 66, 73, 90 –95, 154 –56, 161, 197 poverty, 74, 87 private sector, 65 – 66, 73 redistributive policies, 76, 79–81 state-owned sector, 69–71, 73 student groups, 91, 93, 197 taxation, 65 textbook histories, 92 trade agreements, 6 United States, relations with, 6, 13–14, 22–24, 49, 64 – 67, 85, 145, 148–50, 180 Vietnam, relations with, 65 slums, 77–78 South Korea, 75, 109, 199 South Vietnam. See Vietnam Soviet Union, 87, 110, 121, 133–34, 161, 163 Spain, 106 –7, 126 S.R. Nathan, 155 –56 Srivijaya, 112 State Department (U.S.), 58 state-owned enterprises (SOEs), 68–71 Stoler, Laura Ann, 83 Straits Times, 93, 171–72 Stubbs, Richard, 67, 113 Suharto, 28, 57–59, 72, 85, 100, 102–3, 115, 135, 165, 178, 198–200Sukarno, 56, 61– 62, 101–2, 111–12, 117–19, 164, 181, 199 Sumatra, 57, 83, 113 Surin Pitsuan, 183–84 Suryadinata, Leo, 117 Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, 7, 59 Taiwan, 44, 75, 109 Taufik Abdullah, 138 taxation, 65, 78, 80, 107 Tay, Simon, 6 television. See media coverage Temasek Holdings, 69

terrorism, 4, 6 –7, 51, 64, 127, 145, 168– 69, 171, 191 Tetlock, Philip, 42– 43 Thailand banking, 72, 78 China, relations with, 121–22, 188 communism, 52–54, 90, 104 – 6, 120 –22, 140 – 42, 165 coups, 51–52, 54 –55, 104 –5, 140 democracy, 51–52, 54 domestic power struggles, 22–23 economic environment, 53–54, 74 –78 elections, 55 foreign ministry, 52, 122, 152–54, 176, 179–80 GDP per capita, 74 Gini coefficient, 76, 78 government health spending, 76 historical biases, 14, 89, 104 – 6, 122, 140 – 41 income, 46 labor involvement, 73 media coverage, 52, 166, 168 middle class, 53–55, 106 military activity, 51–55, 122–23 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23, 52 political environment, 22–23, 51–55, 72, 75, 77–78, 104 – 6, 119–23, 153–54 poverty, 53, 74, 78 private sector, 71–72, 78 redistributive policies, 75 –78 rural population, 53, 55 state-owned sector, 70 student groups, 53–54, 106, 198 textbook histories, 106 trade agreements, 6, 55 treaties, 6 United States, relations with, 6, 13, 22–23, 25, 49, 51–55, 119–23, 153–54, 178, 180, 185, 188, 198–99 Vietnam, relations with, 122, 152 Thak Chaloemtiarana, 53 Thaksin Shinawatra, 6, 54 –55, 72, 153–54 Thammasat University, 54, 106, 140 think tanks, 12, 18–19, 37, 159, 173–74, 182–83 Third Party Notes (TPNs), 154 Thongchai Winichakul, 140 timber industry, 79, 84 Time, 166, 187 torture, 99, 101, 136, 138–39, 172 trade agreements, 4, 6, 55 treaties, 6, 33, 50 Tripoli, 159 Truman, Harry S., 120 Tun Razak (Abdul Razak b. Hussein), 153

INDEX  

Tunku Abdul Rahman, 60 – 61, 98, 113–14 Tversky, Amos, 40 United Kingdom, 49, 51, 61, 180 United Nations (UN), 52, 58, 61, 145, 149, 158 United Nations (UN) Security Council, 61, 158 United States balancing role, 4, 22, 25, 66, 147– 48, 150 –51 human rights concerns, 4, 26, 58, 66, 145 – 46, 150, 173 Indonesia, relations with, 7–8, 13–14, 22–23, 49, 55 –59, 61, 68, 85, 115 –19, 137– 40, 145 – 46 Malaysia, relations with, 7–8, 13–14, 22–24, 49, 59– 64, 85, 115, 145, 148–50, 180, 185 media treatment, 12, 166 –73, 187–88 military presence, 3– 4, 23, 50 –51, 53, 58, 109, 117, 122, 129–30, 136, 148, 199 Philippines, relations with, 6, 13, 22–25, 49–51, 68, 123–28, 138–39, 145, 149–50, 178, 184, 198–99 primacy, 3–5, 8–9, 159 scholarship, influence on, 11–12, 14 Singapore, relations with, 6, 13–14, 22–24, 49, 64 – 67, 85, 145, 148–50, 180 stabilizing role, 5, 15 –17, 27–30, 67, 88, 135 –38, 146 –51, 173, 175 Thailand, relations with, 6, 13, 22–23, 25, 49, 51–55, 119–23, 153–54, 178, 180, 185, 188, 198–99 trade agreements, 4, 6, 24, 55, 145 Vietnam, relations with, 13, 22–23, 25 –26, 48– 49, 61, 88, 121, 128–34, 147, 149–50, 178 worldwide approval, 4, 6, 8, 18, 141 worldwide disapproval, 6 –9, 26, 146 United States Pacific Command, 3 U.S. Information Agency (USIA), 181, 186 –87 Viet Minh, 133 Vietnam China, relations with, 14, 88, 119, 129, 131–34

    243

communism, 110, 115 democracy, 149–50 domestic power struggles, 22 economic environment, 74, 77 foreign ministry, 131, 154 GDP per capita, 74 Gini coefficient, 77 government health spending, 77 historical biases, 131–33, 136 –38 media coverage, 166 political environment, 48– 49 poverty, 74 redistributive policies, 77 Singapore, relations with, 65 textbook histories, 132, 134 Thailand, relations with, 122, 152 United States, relations with, 13, 22–23, 25 –26, 48– 49, 61, 88, 121, 128–34, 147, 149–50, 178 See also Vietnam War Vietnam: A Long History, 132, 134 Vietnam War, 53, 65, 67, 109–10, 115, 119, 123, 128–32, 137–38, 163– 64 Village Scouts (Thailand), 141 Voice of America, 186 Walt, Stephen, 20 Washington Post, 166 weapons of mass destruction (WMD), 168, 171 websites. See media coverage West Papua, 161 Wisma Putra, 153, 156 Wolfowitz, Paul, 148, 185 –86 World Bank, 26, 68, 79, 84 World War II, 4 –5, 21, 49, 51, 104, 122, 128, 185, 190 Yeo, George, 145 Yuan Dynasty, 117 “Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality” (ZOPFAN), 164, 176