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Hard Choices: Security, Democracy, and Regionalism in Southeast Asia [Paperback]

by Donald K. Emmerson, Surin Pitsuwan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

December 1, 2008 1931368139 978-1931368131

Security has long trumped democracy as a priority for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). But the brutal dictatorship in Burma/Myanmar, political pluralism in Indonesia, and the global growth of democratic norms have led some Southeast Asians to question ASEAN's habit of turning a blind eye to domestic abuses by member states. The concept of regional security, meanwhile, is being reoriented from military threats toward new dangers to health and the environment and from state security toward human security. Will promoting democracy cause local autocrats to hunker down and split ASEAN into hostile camps? Will ignoring demands for democracy allow domestic pressures to rise to dangerous levels? Should Burma/Myanmar be expelled or engaged? How should ASEAN respond to nontraditional threats to security in which member states are themselves implicated? In Hard Choices, experts grapple with these and other key and controversial questions for Southeast Asia today and tomorrow.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald K. Emmerson heads the Southeast Asia Forum in the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, where he is also a senior fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and affiliated with the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. He has written and lectured widely on security and democracy in Southeast Asia with particular reference to Indonesia, ASEAN, and U.S. policy. Surin Pitsuwan is the secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Asia-Pacific Research Center (December 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931368139
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931368131
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,296,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Despite the skepticism the title might provoke, this book actually does spend 300 pages discussing the interplay between ASEAN regionalism and democracy. This book serves as a useful thought piece on regionalism and democracy in Southeast Asia. Unlike most books on international relations in Southeast Asia, it actually focuses on Southeast Asia rather than China's influence in the region. It covers most of the major issues (economics is a notable exception) without the dryness of a textbook.

The book's core concept is to explore the intersection between democracy, regionalism, and security. It explores the first two admirably well, with thoughtful arguments about where ASEAN has succeeded on these issues and where it could improve. Some of the contributors focus on the role of democracy as a norm in regional relations. Many of these articles criticize ASEAN's "constructive engagement" toward Myanmar as ineffective. Others look at how politics in ASEAN's democratic countries affects regionalism. Emmerson in particular shows how Indonesia's foreign policy over the past few years has incorporated its own democratic principles.

Because Myanmar has been the most prominent failure of democracy in the region, it receives a lot of attention in the book. Kyaw Yin Hlaing's chapter provides a very good analysis of the failure of democratic reform in Myanmar. Many of the other authors use Myanmar as a case study for ASEAN foreign policy. Therefore, the book should appeal especially to those Southeast Asianists interest in Myanmar.

The book's discussion of security is less well developed. This may partially be due to the naturally difficulty of comparing three so separate concepts.
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