Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Lawrence Ziring

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan C. Isaak

Third Advisor

Dr. Peter Kobrak

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This paper examines the changing geopolitical scene in Southeast Asia and regional security issues managed by the states belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). A crucial research question is "How has the end of the Cold War influenced the security perspectives of these nations?"

Historical research of the political cultures and complex ethnicities of the ASEAN countries shows causes of awkward relationships (originating in the colonial era) between them. For managing regional security issues, these countries have established several regional organizations, although most of them have failed. The withdrawal of the British and U.S. forces from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam during the early 1970s increased the need for self-protection by the ASEAN countries. These countries, threatened by communist Vietnam, promoted regional cooperation through ASEAN and mutual suspicion decreased.

This paper also shows recently increasing conventional military power and military ties among the ASEAN countries. The changing inventory of weaponry and defense expenditures show that arms build-up has been carefully controlled so as not to create an arms race in this region. Moreover, the emerging Chinese threat has encouraged these countries to sustain political and military ties since the end of the Cold War.