Asean in Transformation
A gathering of small and medium countries, and wanted to be left alone, in peace, to develop their own economies and the lives of their people. That was what Asean used to be, avoiding big power conflicts and staying away from becoming proxies in big power rivalries. That was how ZOPFAN, zone and peace, freedom and neutrality came about. Today, Asean has grown bigger, economically, structurally and militarily. It starts to have wild ambitions, to start bickering with each other’s internal affairs and to challenge bigger powers, and ganging up with big powers to achieve its aims. Consciously or unconsciously, it has accepted the US as the de facto leader of Asean, doing away with its neutral status. Non alignment is no longer its mission. During its days of neutrality, Asean was able to grow peacefully, and also stayed out of big power conflicts. Today, it is inviting big power rivalry into the organization. It courts big power influence and protection to compete with other big powers. For that, it is willing to surrender its own leadership to a big power and become subservient or proxy states of big powers. Would this transformation of Asean lead the region into a state of turmoil and warfare? Has Asean really believe that engaging in big power politics and struggle of power and influence a desired development for the small and medium states? Has Asean grown a head that is too big for itself and wanted to play a bigger role in international affairs which it thinks it deserves? While Asean is being seduced by big power attention and bathing in the limelight, let Asean not forgotten what happened in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Dancing with the big bad wolf has a disastrous price to pay.