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Hard Interests, Soft IllusionsSoutheast Asia and American Power$
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Natasha Hamilton-Hart

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450549

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450549.001.0001

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Beliefs about American Hegemony in Southeast Asia

Beliefs about American Hegemony in Southeast Asia

(p.1) 1 Beliefs about American Hegemony in Southeast Asia
Hard Interests, Soft Illusions

Natasha Hamilton-Hart

Cornell University Press

This book examines the beliefs held by foreign policymakers and practitioners in six Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines) about the international role and power of the United States. 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, foreign policy elites in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam see the United States in a relatively positive light, and specifically as a relatively benign hegemonic 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 hegemony in the region. This book analyzes the politics behind perceptions of the United States and the question of whose perceptions matter in policy terms and argues that such perceptions are illusions, even if they are not necessarily inaccurate.

Keywords:   foreign policy, Southeast Asia, United States, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, hegemony

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