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Arc of ContainmentBritain, the United States, and Anticommunism in Southeast Asia$
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Wen-Qing Ngoei

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501716409

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501716409.001.0001

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Recovering the Regional Dimensions of U.S. Policy toward Southeast Asia

(p.1) Introduction
Arc of Containment

Wen-Qing Ngoei

Cornell University Press

This introduction presents an overview of the book’s study of imperial transition in Southeast Asia from the colonial order through Anglo-American predominance to U.S. empire. It explains that the book examines two Southeast Asian countries—Malaya and Singapore—marginalized by major studies of U.S. policy to illuminate regional developments in U.S.-Southeast Asian relations otherwise overlooked by the predominant focus of historians on U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Using this wide-angle view of Southeast Asia, the book reveals how the bases of U.S. Cold War policy draw from longstanding Euro-American anxieties about race, specifically the perceived threat of China and its diaspora to western power. From this insight, the book is able to reveal that Britain, the United States and their indigenous anticommunist allies crafted a pro-West nationalism underpinned by region-wide anti-Chinese prejudice, a process that ensconced most Southeast Asian regimes within the American orbit even as U.S. policy failed in Vietnam.

Keywords:   U.S. empire, Imperial transition, Colonial order, Anticommunist, Race, diaspora, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, Britain, China

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