What’s wrong with the United States’ Southeast Asian allies?

18 October 2016

The Philippines and Thailand are not acting like US treaty allies are supposed to. While the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte seems somewhat of an outlier, his anti-Americanism is only the latest instalment of instability in the US–Philippines relationship. Thai–US relations have also suffered since the 2014 military coup and Thailand now appears to be seeking closer military ties with China. But these countries’ disagreements with the United States do not necessarily mean they want a change to the status quo in Asia.

Duterte’s election has thrown perceptions of the US–Philippines alliance into disarray. The firebrand leader’s policy announcements have included a possible end to joint US–Philippines naval patrols and the US Special Forces presence in Mindanao. These, together with intemperate outbursts in response to US criticism of his campaign against drugs, appear to signal a relationship in serious trouble. Duterte has confounded expectations that his country would continue to draw closer to the United States in the wake of the South China Sea dispute.

Read full article What’s wrong with the United State’s Southeast Asian allies? by Greg Raymond published in East Asia Forum.

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