U.S. MILITARY AID TO SOUTHEAST ASIA.
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Evolution of strategy, assistance, politics in Cold war context, focusing on post-1973 events. Costs, impact on Association of Southeast Asian Nations, U.S. interests.... More...
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Evolution of strategy, assistance, politics in Cold war context, focusing on post-1973 events. Costs, impact on Association of Southeast Asian Nations, U.S. interests.
U.S. Military Assistance to Southeast Asia This paper will discuss the military assistance provided by the United States to various countries in Southeast Asia since 1973. The first part of the paper will briefly describe the history of U.S. military assistance since the end of the Second World War. The second part of the paper will examine the aid given to Southeast Asian countries after the Vietnam War. This section will look at the reasons for such aid and the changes in U.S. policy concerning such aid. This section will also discuss the provision of such aid from the viewpoint of the Southeast Asian countries receiving it. The third part of the paper will use the example of Thailand to show how such aid affects the policies of both the providers and recipients. The last part of the paper will postulate the future of U.S. military assistance to Southeas
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investment.Finally, the ASEAN nations were determined to preserve for internationaltrade free passage through the Malacca, Lombok, and Makassar straits. The American defeat in the Vietnam War had a chilling effect on thewillingness of American leaders to commit large military forces anywhere inthe world, especially to Southeast Asia. Inlight of the reluctance of most Americans to commit U.S. military was at the forefront inthe development of military doctrine. then agreed to send another $3 million in militaryaid to Thailand as a sign of U.S. Developments in other parts of the world in the late 197 s and early198 s also convinced the United States that the security of Southeast Asiawas important to U.S. Sources CitedBetts, Richard K. U.S.assistance increased in the early 198 s as the U.S. In this way, the United States can gain thesupport of the assisted countries for certain policies. The main program, begun in the 195 s,was the Military Assistance Program (MAP). defense budget and most U.S. offerof an advanced fighter precipitated a full-scale policy debate in Thailand,even though the offer was made in order to cement U.S.-Thai relations(Porter 437). This section will look at the reasons for such aid and thechanges in U.S. At the end of the war in Vietnam in 1975, conservative thinkers inthe United States, on the other hand, worried that the entire region ofSoutheast Asia was going to fall under the influence of the Soviet Unionand the communist states it sponsored. In addition, private sales ofarms were beginning to exceed $1 billion per year. There was also a problem where the countries at issue did not rely uponthe United States exclusively for regional security. Therefore, not only did they buyAmerican weapons systems, several countries also relied upon the UnitedStates military for the training of officers. Cong. The ASEAN States and Regional Security. 1 th Cong., 2d Sess. U.S. assistance (Simon 5-8). As the cost of advanced weaponsincreased, foreign sales were seen as a way of recouping the cost ofresearch and development, as well as overhead production costs (Brewer222). By 1976, the export of military suppliesand services was valued at about 5% of all American exports and .3% of theGross National Product (Brewer 222-23). foreignpolicy moves (Simon 5). 2 (February 1993): 55-63.Porter, Gareth. In diplomatic dealings betweenthe two superpowers, the United States was not adverse to a small increasein the presence of China in regional affairs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.Haseman, John B. Stanford: Hoover Institution P, 1982.Soon, Lau Teik. They were moreconcerned with the threat of internal subversion backed by external forces. Yet, they also believed that theSoviet Union would respect the role developed and outlined by the UnitedStates. Both of these Southeast Asian countries wereexperiencing booming economies and were eager to increase their presence inthe United States' market (Porter 4 4). ASEAN members, however, wereopposed to any such increase, event though they recognized that China was anecessary player in opposing Soviet influence. Thus, the U.S. Finally, surplusgovernment military supplies were also being transferred to foreigngovernments at little or no cost. The firstpart of the paper will briefly describe the history of U.S. When the levels of aid werethreatened, ASEAN members began vocalizing concerns that the United Stateswas turning away from Asia and focusing too much upon Europe. Suchgrants diminished with time, from $11 billion in the early 195 s, to lessthan $1 billion in the late 197 s. Arms sales began replacing the grantsas military expenditures became a concern. Many Southeast Asian leaderswondered if U.S. Congress were, in turn,reluctant to continue providing large levels of military assistance tocountries which had poor human rights records. At the same time, the Cold War rivalry between the United States andthe Soviet Union was redefined as a balance of power problem. U.S. Washington D.C.: GPO, 1992. One example of U.S. They believed that theUnited States would only intervene militarily in the case of communistaggression, a prospect which they considered unlikely. The U.S. security commitments to Thailand went back to theManila Treaty of 1954 and the Rusk-Thanat agreement of 1962. hardline stance towards Vietnam and even looked to China indeterring Vietnamese actions against Thailand. leaders conceded that the Soviet Unioncould have a role in Southeast Asia. Basesin Southeast Asia and an increase in naval forces in the region werenecessary for the forward projection of U.S. This thinking was actually a symptom of the desire on the part ofmost Americans to withdraw from Southeast Asia. military planning, as strategistsconcentrate upon the volatile regions in the Middle East. Second, ASEANnations sat astride the waterways linking the Indian Ocean, South ChinaSea, and the Pacific Ocean; these waterways were vital to the flow ofJapanese commerce. (Betts 47-48;Crowe 33 ; Report of the Delegation to the Far East 2-3). "Military Developments in the South China Sea Basin." Military Review 73, no. Quitenaturally, they looked to the United States, since U.S. In those countries which enjoyed theexpansion of their economies, this meant that defense spending increased interms of the amount of money spent, although not necessarily in thepercentage of the overall budget (Soon 41-47). "The United States and Southeast Asia." Current History (December 1984): 4 1-4 4, 436-38.Simon, Sheldon W. forces.Southeast Asian governments, on the other hand, often differed from theUnited States in their views of regional threats. This contraction was seen by manyas an opportunity to increase the cooperation between members of theAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and to expand the economicand trading ties between ASEAN and Western nations (Buszynski 229-3 ). military forces in the Pacific and interests in Southeast Asiaindirectly received heightened attention as a result of non-Cold War eventswhich did not directly affect the region (Simon 117). MAP consisted of governmentgrants of equipment, given mostly to European countries in the 195 s. The United States attempted to use these military ties as minor meansof leverage in getting ASEAN countries to accept U.S. 8. interests in general. Consequently, many Americanstrategists agreed that support of the member states of ASEAN was veryimportant to ensure their continuing autonomy and Western orientation.There were four main reasons for this. By 1977, sales under the Foreign Military Sales Program reachedalmost $7 billion, while agreements for future sales were being signed atthe rate of nearly $1 billion per year. In the end, however, the economic ties mattered more than themilitary assistance. Yet the ASEAN states were reluctant to rely upon the United Statesfor continuing assistance in the aftermath of the defeat in Vietnam. Comm. Consequently, they did not feel that they could completely rely upon theUnited States for help. For instance,Malaysia and Indonesia both objected to U.S. Committee on Armed Services. American Foreign Policy: A Contemporary Introduction. Although an immediate effect may bethe strengthening of one government in relation to another, hostile,government, the long-term effect is often the friendship of the governmentreceiving the assistance. In addition,Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia have become concerned with thegrowing strength of the Indian navy (Haseman 56-57). It has since dramatically decreased, as theSoviet threat waned and then disappeared with the Soviet Union. This effort, however, wasresisted by many Asian nations, who still remembered Japanese aggressionearlier in the century (Buszynski 227-29). Someefforts were made in the middle part of the 197 s to involve Japan more inthe security relationships in Southeast Asia. These events also caused the ASEAN members tostep up their calls for increased U.S. In conclusion, U.S. The more liberal members of the U.S. military assistance to Thailand during the 198 swas the response to the Thai request to purchase a squadron of F-16fighters. commitment. In addition, Asiahas come to play a minor role in U.S. They believed that Americansshould not commit themselves so heavily to the defense of Asian interestswhen Asian countries could contribute more to their own defense. leaders of the importance of keeping sea lanes open. During the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, the United States warnedVietnam and the Soviet Union to respect Thailand's borders; in response,both countries sent assurances that Thailand's sovereignty would berespected. By definingthe conflict in this manner, U.S. Thailandshared the U.S. Consequently, the main reason, as understood by theU.S., for the maintenance of large military forces in the region alsodisappeared. Military assistance has long been used as a means of gaininginfluence over a foreign government. policy concerning such aid. This purpose hasreplaced the original purpose of helping one country defend itself againstan enemy, especially since most of the countries receiving assistance havenever been engaged in any violent conflict (Brewer 223). The changes in military technology during the 197 s and198 s translated into increased costs for weapons and the training neededfor the operation of such weapons. The second part of thepaper will examine the aid given to Southeast Asian countries after theVietnam War. This meant that while theywere trying to reduce their dependency upon the United States inmaintaining security in the region, some ASEAN members had to increasetheir dependence upon the United States for military equipment and doctrine(Soon 45). This policy waslargely in response to the beginning of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. strategicplans have come to be based upon maintaining base forces which are capableof meeting limited contingencies and could be the bases for rebuildinglarge forces if a superpower-type of threat reappears. government perceived anincrease in the Soviet threat. Throughout the 197 s, U.S.forces slowly contracted in the region. First, ASEAN was a part of theforward line of defense against an attack across the Pacific by the SovietUnion (or, less likely, the People's Republic of China). Vietnam also lost itssuperpower sponsor and was forced to compete on the world market formilitary equipment. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 198 .Buszynski, Leszek. The economic competition between Japan and several Southeast Asiancountries also fuels the fear of Japanese military action. President Carter had refused to sell the F-16 to ASEAN countriesout of the fear that such advanced aircraft would destabilize the region.President Reagan, however, agreed in 1984 to sell these aircraft toThailand, promising the Thai prime minister that his country could havewhatever weapons system it wanted. This increased emphasis upon the need for autonomous self-defensemeant that ASEAN members had to recognize the importance of defensespending during the 198 s. industry producedthe highest quality weapons and the U.S. Prt. influence which might accompany military assistance. "Wealth Power and Instability: East Asia and the United States after the Cold War." International Security 18, no. In 1982, the ReaganAdministration raised Thailand's military sales credit to $8 million.During the 198 s, the United States, under the leadership of the ReaganAdministration, agreed to increase its military involvement in the region,chiefly through an increase in naval and air power in the Pacific (Simon 8-9). militaryassistance since the end of the Second World War. In addition, they were unwilling to committhemselves to the foreign policy aims of the United States, especially theunyielding opposition to the Soviet Union and the "friendship" with thePeople's Republic of China. The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 removed the majorsuperpower military threat in Southeast Asia. "Defence Expenditures of ASEAN States: The Regional Strategic Context." In Defence Spending in Southeast Asia (Chin Kin Wah, ed.): 31-47. The former Soviet navybecame confined to its ports as funding evaporated. President Reagan attempted to gain their support through bilateralagreements involving arms sales, armed forces training, and economic ties.This reflected traditional American foreign policy goals and measures,attempting to influence foreign governments by providing a mixture ofbenefits. military leaders wereinclined to agree that there was no longer any reason for maintaining aCold War-size military force or for continuing U.S. The Line of Fire; From Washington to the Gulf, the Politics and Battles of the New Military. Thai economic and financialspecialists, on the other hand, opposed the deal, arguing that it wouldcost nearly $1 billion to equip an entire squadron, which was nearly twiceas much as the alternative purchase of F-2 fighters which the UnitedStates was offering. aid carried too many conditions and liabilities (Simon 5). Theyrightly feared that the United States was losing interest in the region,except with regard to Cold War considerations. military aid to Southeast Asia has undergonechanges since the end of the Vietnam War. Report of the Delegation to the Far East of the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives. U.S. Although this did not necessarily translateinto increasing the amount spent upon defense in relation to their overalleconomies, it did mean that ASEAN members had to be careful in how theyspent their funds. The last part of the paper will postulate the future ofU.S. Between 1979 and 1985, U.S.military aid to Thailand increased from $32 million to $1 5 million. Military Assistance to Southeast Asia This paper will discuss the military assistance provided by theUnited States to various countries in Southeast Asia since 1973. Third, ASEAN nations possessed a large reserve ofimportant raw materials and were a growing market for U.S. "The United States and Southeast Asia: A Case of Strategic Surrender." Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 14 (September 1983): 225-43.Crowe, William J. The changes in military technology also meant that ASEAN members hadto look to outside sources for their equipment and training. One point of contention between the United States and the ASEANmembers was the role of the People's Republic of China in Southeast Asia.During the 197 s, the United States placed a special emphasis upon itsrelationship with communist China, which was regarded as a bulwark againstincreasing Soviet influence in the region. Several of the ASEAN countries, as well as Vietnam, viewJapan as a physical threat because of its history and its large navalforce. Thus, they often fearedthe U.S. Arms transfers were initiallyseen as a cheap way of ensuring regional security and influencing Asiangovernments' policies, without having to commit large U.S. The third part of the paper will use the exampleof Thailand to show how such aid affects the policies of both the providersand recipients. The end of the Cold War brought domestic pressures forreducing the U.S. Finally, they were concerned about losingtheir autonomy with respect to the United States, losing their identitiesin a fashion similar to the Philippines. Thailand wasprobably the most dependent of any ASEAN member upon military aid from theUnited States. The increasing volatility ofthe Middle East and the heavy Western dependence upon oil from this regionreminded U.S. foreign policy in theregion, especially with regard to China and the Soviet Union. leaders saw arms transfer as a cost-effectivemethod for countering the Soviets. power into the Indian Ocean.Thus, U.S. This section will also discussthe provision of such aid from the viewpoint of the Southeast Asiancountries receiving it. 3 (Winter 1993/1994): 34-77.Brewer, Thomas L. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1987.United States. The United States began selling and donating military equipment on alarge scale soon after the end of the Second World War. This conflict of opinionbetween ASEAN and the United States was one element which caused ASEANmembers to look towards their own increasing roles in maintaining the peaceand security in Southeast Asia (Soon 41). foreign policy in SoutheastAsia. Most of the ASEAN members continue to view China as a major threat,if only because of the historical role China has played in the region.Thailand continues to view Vietnam as a threat, mainly because of its largearmy and its propensity in the recent past for violating the Vietnamese-Thailand border. Disturbed and threatened by the Soviet willingness to extend its politicaland military influence, U.S. Not only would the F-16 purchase place a heavy burdenupon the Thai budget, it might also cause the other ASEAN members toupgrade their air forces, although they had previously agreed not to.Finally, the deal might prompt the Soviet Union to equip the Vietnamese airforce with the latest version of the MiG-23 fighter. In 1977, Congress cutmilitary aid to the Philippines for just this reason, ignoring thestrategic reasons for providing such aid. military force inthe region, military assistance in the form of arms transfers wasconsidered an effective method for countering communist aggression in theregion and, just as importantly, garnering ASEAN support for U.S. House. Theaid, in the form of aid grants, credit arms sales, and military trainingprograms, was largely responsible for the modernization of the Thai army(Porter 436-37). military assistance toSoutheast Asian countries at the same levels as previously. military assistance to Southeast Asia. Theseconcerns were allayed, somewhat, when the United States intensified itsfocus upon Asia after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and the Sino-Vietnam conflict in 1979.
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