Islam in Southeast Asia: What Should US Policymakers Know?

Sponsored by The Stanley Foundation and The Asia Foundation
November 18-19, 2004
The Asia Foundation, San Francisco, CA

The war against terrorism has encouraged a monolithic view of Muslims in US foreign policy that is based on the "Arab street." As they craft policies toward Southeast Asian countries with significant Muslim populations, US policymakers are poorly served by this image and its attendant assumptions. Islam in Southeast Asia is, on the one hand, distinct from other regional strains and, on the other, a part of an increasingly globalized religion. This conference will examine Southeast Asian Islam in its own right and consider a number of issues. How has Islam influenced social change in Southeast Asia? What role does Islam play in the political systems and political culture of several Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines)? What are the most important external influences on Islam in the region? Can Southeast Asian Islam offer models to other regions? Is radical Islam on the rise and, if so, why? How should US policymakers tailor policies and programs with Southeast Asian Muslims?

Regionalism in Southeast Asia and US Policy

Sponsored by The Stanley Foundation and The Southeast Asia Forum, Asia-Pacific Research Center
September 23-24, 2004
Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

In the wake of major events and trends, ranging from the 1997 economic crisis to the war on terrorism, regionalism is increasingly held to be the solution to Southeast Asian problems. At the same time, with the incorporation of four new countries into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), regional cooperation has become more problematic. Within ASEAN and outside it, policymakers question whether Southeast Asia has the collective political will and ability to follow through on ambitious new proposals.

Whether the new adherence to regionalism is real or rhetorical, external powers are now more inclined to approach Southeast Asian nations as a group. In recent months, for example, China, India, and Japan have signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN. This new trend presents both a dilemma and an opportunity for the United States. Although the United States supports ASEAN in principle, it is more inclined toward a bilateral approach in its Southeast Asian policy. Should the United States place greater emphasis on regional approaches to policy problems? Are there measures the United States should take to strengthen regionalism in Southeast Asia?

US Human Rights Policy in Southeast Asia: New Issues for a New Era

Sponsored by The Stanley Foundation and The Southeast Asia Forum, Asia-Pacific Research Center
May 10-11, 2004
Carnegie Council, Merrill House, New York City, New York

In recent years, changes in broader US foreign policy have been reflected in US policy on human rights. Nowhere is this more evident than in US relations with Southeast Asia. The war on terrorism has brought a more intense focus on Islam, and has reconfigured bilateral relations with several Southeast Asian states. The pre-2001 American emphasis on democracy and human rights in the region is complicated by Washington's encouragement of stronger legal measures to combat terrorism. An increasing emphasis on religious rights in US policy affects relations with Vietnam and Laos. As the political stalemate in Burma continues, the United States has tightened sanctions on that country, sparking a new debate on the efficacy of such an approach. These issues, as well as policy recommendations to address them, will help to define the agenda for the second meeting of the Stanley Foundation's program on Southeast Asia in the Twenty-First Century.

US Security Relations With Southeast Asia: A Dual Challenge

Sponsored by The Stanley Foundation and National War College at the National Defense University
March 11-12, 2004
Jurys Washington Hotel, New York City, New York

The Stanley Foundation initiated the program Southeast Asia in the Twenty-First Century: Issues and Options for US Policy to examine current issues and trends in Southeast Asia and US relations with the region. The Stanley Foundation believes that a fresh and in-depth look at the region—as well as US policy toward Southeast Asia—would be useful at this time. The events of September 11, 2001, set into motion a new policy paradigm in US policy toward Southeast Asia. At the same time, the countries of the region are forging broad new relations with China and India. In a different realm, Southeast Asian governments face pressure to improve human rights protection, and to address a host of human security problems. Each of these challenges places strains on regional institutions such as ASEAN, causing member states to consider new roles for them.

Security Relations with Southeast Asia: A Dual Challenge will consider US-Southeast Asia security issues. The war on terrorism has enabled the US to work through its traditional allies in the region, but places greater emphasis on its "arms-length allies" (Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia). New mechanisms for cooperation must be found to reflect this new emphasis. At the same time, both the security environment and US policy in Southeast Asia needs to be re-evaluated in light of rising regional powers.