chapter  6
37 Pages

Soviet Policy Towards ASEAN After the Vietnamese Invasion of Kampuchea

Soviet policy tow ards ASEAN since 1975 has attem pted to foster a dialogue between ASEAN and Vietnam as a way of promoting a perm anent Soviet position in the region. The Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea, how ever, resu lted in a fundam ental conflict for Soviet policy as the elimination of Chinese influence from th a t country has imperilled the p rospects for the success of th a t dialogue. ASEAN as a regional grouping reacted sharp ly to the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea and has viewed the Soviet Union's new ly-found regional p resence as a th re a t. Soviet aims in th is situation can be d istinguished into those which are long-term and those which are more realistic and immediate. The ultimate aim, and the purpose of the regional deten te th a t the Soviet Union wishes to encourage between ASEAN and Vietnam, is a dominant regional position which would entail the successful political separation of ASEAN from the United S tates and China. The ultimate aim, in th is sense, is the implementation of the collective security proposal for Soviet policy in South­ east Asia a f irs t step tow ards which is an ASEAN-Vietnam regional dialogue. Ultimate aims, however, have been made d istan t and ra th e r fanciful hopes by ASEAN1 s hostile reaction to the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea. The immediate aims of Soviet diplomacy, however, involve an attem pt to minimise the negative impact upon ASEAN of Vietnam's occupation of Kampuchea. Related aims include limiting the emergence of an ASEAN-Chinese diplomatic alignment and p reven ting the regional organisation 's evolution tow ards a security association with the United S ta tes. In essence, the Soviet Union has been conducting a holding operation in the hope th a t ASEAN would eventually accept Vietnam's position in Kampuchea as a fait accompli which would permit Soviet policy to focus upon longer-term aims outlined above.