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Abstract

With a population of about 325 million, Maritime Southeast Asia — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore — is an area of significant economic and security interests for the United States. These interests are four fold. First, the United States seeks to maintain open sea lanes through the region, especially through the Straits of Malacca, through which much Persian Gulf oil is shipped to East Asia. Second, the moderate Islam practiced in the region can help offset radical Islamist movements elsewhere. Third, Washington seeks to prevent terrorist infrastructure from developing in the dense jungles of the region. And fourth, the United States needs to build strong strategic relationships in the region to assure access for American air and naval forces. This article analyzes how demographic factors are affecting the security environment of Southeast Asia and examines the resulting security implications for the United States.

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Originally published in: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, v. 7, no. 1, Winter/Spring 2006, pp. 83-91.

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