Dominoes Still Standing: Thailand and Malaysia
While the rest of the Indo-China peninsula has fallen to USSR-supported communism (Vietnam, Laos and Vietnamese-occupied Kampuchea) and millions of people are forced to live under bitterly xenophobic socialism, here certainly including Burma, both Thailand and Malaysia appear to continue to benefit economically from their integration into the Western ‘world economy’ — and are showing progress politically as well. As key member countries of ASEAN, both are studiously avoiding the label of client-states of former imperial powers. Indeed, since Thailand carefully played off the French-British rivalry in the nineteenth century to safeguard its independence, its political stance in the world has usually emphasized multilateral contacts, though it certainly supported the SEATO concept (Asia’s NATO) and fought alongside the US in the Vietnam conflict, even providing air bases for the US Air Force as well as an infantry division for the actual fighting. Malaysia, on the other hand, was decidedly lukewarm on Vietnam and has carefully distanced itself from the UK and the US both politically and economically. While the last 30 years have seen some bloodshed, both countries have been relatively stable politically, having rather successfully dealt with serious insurgency problems in the recent past.
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