Southeast Asia

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Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia form the bulk of Southeast Asia, a region that has experienced significant economic development in recent decades but also faces ethnonationalism and security concerns. RAND has investigated these issues as well as the region's relations with the United States, the former Soviet bloc countries, China, and Japan.

  • Flight test of a conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California, August 18, 2019, photo by Scott Howe/U.S. Department of Defense

    Report

    Challenges of Deploying Ground-Based Intermediate-Range Missiles on Allied Lands

    Apr 28, 2022

    The United States has been hoping to develop and deploy ground-based intermediate-range missiles to the Indo-Pacific. But what is the likelihood of its treaty allies in the region—Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand—hosting these systems? Are there alternatives to permanent basing?

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2022, photo  by Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Most of the Indo-Pacific Tiptoes Around Russia

    Apr 7, 2022

    Since the start of Russia's increasingly brutal war in Ukraine, the West has ramped up pressure on the rest of the world to condemn Moscow's belligerence and join sanctions against Russia and its regime. In the vast Indo-Pacific region, however, the West's message has fallen flat.

Explore Southeast Asia

  • A man clears debris from the mosque that was burnt down in Myanmar's Rakhine state

    Commentary

    Who's Bombing Myanmar?

    After a half-century of hermetic authoritarianism, Myanmar's re-entry into the world community has been one of the biggest (and most optimistic) stories in Asia. Yet an upswing in ethnic and religious conflict could put Myanmar's progress at risk.

    Oct 30, 2013

  • People pay their respects in front of a portrait of General Vo Nguyen Giap at his house in Hanoi October 6, 2013

    Commentary

    The Passing of Vietnam Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap

    The passing of Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap marks the end of an era for Vietnam — and for giants of the twentieth-century anti-colonial movement throughout the world. As commander of the Viet Minh and the Vietnam People's Army, his strategies led to successes against France and the U.S. that were regarded as among communism's finest military moments.

    Oct 7, 2013

  • China's President Xi Jinping and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta October 2, 2013

    Blog

    China's ASEAN Outreach

    Chinese President Xi Jinping called for greater cooperation between his country and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during remarks delivered Oct. 3 before the Indonesian parliament. But Angel Rabasa, a RAND senior political scientist, says improved relations between China and its neighbors will depend more on action than on words.

    Oct 4, 2013

  • Men travel in a boat across the Yangon river

    Commentary

    U.S. Sanctions Against Myanmar Need to Go

    Washington now has to ask itself whether its goals can best be met with these restrictions in place or whether it is time to recognize the fundamental changes that are taking place in Myanmar and forge a new relationship with its leaders based on full government-to-government relations, writes Peter Chalk.

    Oct 2, 2013

  • Vietnamese woman paddling a boat

    Project

    Ensuring Robust Flood Risk Management in Vietnam

    Ho Chi Minh City faces significant and growing flood risk. Recent risk reduction efforts may not work if climate and socio-economic conditions diverge from earlier projections. Robust decision making can help Vietnam's largest city develop integrated flood risk management strategies despite this uncertainty.

    Aug 16, 2013

  • Report

    Lessons from Department of Defense Disaster Relief Efforts in the Asia-Pacific Region

    The Asia-Pacific region bears the brunt of the majority of the world's natural disasters and is home to key U.S. allies. In an effort to improve the effectiveness of such operations, this report analyzes recent HA/DR operations in Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Japan, and identifies lessons that can be applied in the future.

    Jul 31, 2013

  • President Thein Sein of Myanmar (Burma) shakes hands with President Barack Obama

    Commentary

    Obama's Burmese Gamble

    A year ago, the United States and Myanmar (Burma) did not even have ambassadors in each other's capitals. In May, President Thein Sein became the first leader from Myanmar to visit the White House in nearly a half-century. Has Obama's administration been too quick to embrace what was one of the world's most repressive regimes?

    Jul 10, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Options for Effective Mechanisms to Support Evidence-Informed Policymaking in RMNCH in Asia and the Pacific

    This RAND Europe report looks at providing timely, reliable and high-quality evidence to inform decision-making to improve women's and children's health.

    May 1, 2013

  • Vietnamese woman paddling a boat

    Journal Article

    Flood Risk Management in Ho Chi Minh City

    Ho Chi Minh City faces significant and growing flood risk. Recent risk reduction efforts may not work if climate and socio-economic conditions diverge from earlier projections. Robust decisionmaking can help Vietnam's capital develop integrated flood risk management strategies despite this uncertainty.

    May 1, 2013

  • Washington soldiers train with Thai military in counter-insurgency exchange

    Commentary

    Is Asia's Forgotten Revolt About to Explode?

    This is why teachers are so often the targets of attack. In the rebels’ view, schools aren’t neutral places for children to receive an education. They are seen as government-run indoctrination centers, propagating an exclusionary history and an alien language, writes Jonah Blank.

    Feb 25, 2013

  • Cambodian garment factory workers travel home from work in Kampong Chhnang province, north of Phnom Penh

    Report

    The Benefits of Nation-Building Interventions Have Exceeded the Costs

    Most interventions in the past 25 years have been followed by improved security, some degree of democratization, and significant economic growth—with only a modest commitment of international military and civilian manpower and economic assistance.

    Feb 4, 2013

  • The Philippine flag

    Commentary

    High Hopes for Philippine Peace Plan

    The government has successfully used a combination of counterinsurgency strategies against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in recent years, raising expectations that the new peace deal will also succeed—and in a manner that favors the government's interests, writes Molly Dunigan.

    Dec 6, 2012

  • U.S. President Barack Obama speaks alongside Nobel Peace Prize laureate and long-time opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her residence in Yangon, Myanmar, November 19, 2012

    Commentary

    Obama and Myanmar (Burma): Four Points About Conflict There

    We can expect to see continued jockeying for scarce resources among vulnerable populations around the globe, attempts by majority communities to disenfranchise powerless minority groups, and episodes of extreme weather to blow away any notion that disasters—whether natural, man-made, or both—can't happen here, writes Jonah Blank.

    Nov 20, 2012

  • President Barack Obama greets Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand during the ASEAN Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 18, 2011.

    Commentary

    Obama Trip Could Be Bellwether for U.S.-Asia Relations

    Specific areas of focus for President Obama's visit are likely to include expanding trade and investment opportunities for U.S. businesses in Southeast Asia, increasing defense cooperation with Thailand, and offers of disaster recovery assistance to Burma in the wake of its recent earthquake, writes Scott Harold.

    Nov 15, 2012

  • Report

    Report

    Historical Lessons for Creating Local Defense Forces for Afghanistan and Beyond

    Lessons learned from past cases of local defense forces used in the context of counterinsurgency—in Indochina, Algeria, South Vietnam, Oman, El Salvador, Southern Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq—can be applied to the current development of the Afghan Local Police.

    Sep 18, 2012

  • Dissertation

    Dissertation

    Understanding and Engaging the Muslims of the Southern Philippines

    Explores and compares how members of the US military, Philippine military and police, and populace of Mindanao understand Islamic beliefs and values.

    Aug 10, 2012

  • Commercial Book

    Commercial Book

    Fighting for MacArthur: The Navy and Marine Corps' Desperate Defense of the Philippines

    The only single-volume work offering a full account of the Navy and Marine Corps actions in the Philippines during World War II, providing never-before-published details about the fighting based on American and newly discovered Japanese sources.

    Jun 11, 2012

  • A Filipino worker cleans the statue of late U.S. General Douglas MacArthur October 7, 1994 for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the landing of U.S. and allied troops on Leyte island in the Japanese-occupied Philippines during World War II

    Announcement

    John Gordon Receives Arthur Goodzeit Book Award for 'Fighting for MacArthur'

    John Gordon won the 2011 Arthur Goodzeit Book Award for Fighting for MacArthur: The Navy and Marine Corps' Desperate Defense of the Philippines, a World War II history. The award was presented by the New York Military Affairs Symposium.

    Jun 8, 2012

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Transforming Indonesia's Centralized Education System to School-Based Management

    This study provides a quantitative and qualitative status report on the implementation of school-based management (SBM) in Indonesia, identifies factors associated with the successful practices of SBM, and assesses SBM effects on student achievement.

    Jun 5, 2012

  • Teacher and students in Indonesia

    Report

    Implementing School-Based Management in Indonesia

    Implementing SBM in Indonesia required a major shift in how people think about schooling and a significant improvement in the capacity of principals, teachers, and the community to provide leadership, develop programmatic alternatives to meet local educational needs, and engage parents and the community in the governance of schools. According to this assessment, it has thus far met with limited success.

    May 29, 2012