Despite what some pundits might have said, the recently-concluded Sunnylands US-ASEAN Summit was a resounding diplomatic success for the Obama Administration vis-a-vis Communist China. Just read the full text of the Sunnylands Joint Declaration presented below. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to immediately recognize that Statement Nos. 6 to 8 are specifically directed against Communist China.
At the same time, however, one also realizes that the Sunnylands Joint Declaration is already the best that ASEAN can do. Although ASEAN was created partly because of the collective fear of Chinese Communism, it has evolved through the years as a socio-economic organization, and not a security one.
In the 1960s, Communist China was just carrying the Big Stick of Communism. Now it is carrying both the Big Stick of Communism, as well as the Big Carrot of Economic Develepment. And among the 10 members of ASEAN, only five (5) are currently threatened by the Big Stick of Communist China. It is a tribute to the diplomatic efforts of the Obama Administration that the remaining five (5) also went along with the Sunnylands Joint Declaration. But it is understandable if they will refuse to go any further, specially if it will involve potential military confrontations with Communist China. The upside is not just there for them.
So what is needed now is a defense-oriented version of ASEAN. Something similar to the now-defunct SEATO.
And the obvious members of this new defense organization would be the US, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Japan and Australia.
And here is a possible name: Western Pacific Treaty Organization (WESPACTO)
************************************February 16, 2016
Joint Statement of the U.S.-ASEAN Special Leaders’ Summit: Sunnylands Declaration