Why the 'world's policeman' cannot retire in Southeast Asia : a critical assessment of the 'East Timor model'
Miller, H. Lyman
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The United States has sought a willing regional actor to carry a larger share of the burden to maintain Southeast Asian security and stability-without diminishing its regional leadership role-since assuming the position from the British after WWII. In 1999, Australia led a peacekeeping force into East Timor, ostensibly fulfilling a long held desire by the United States to reduce its worldwide commitments. However, as other international organizations have demonstrated, the United States is obliged to accept a disproportionate burden of providing the public good of international security and stability. In Southeast Asia, where post-colonial states such as Indonesia are narrowly avoiding disintegration, the United States as the regional hegemon, must recognize its responsibility to carry a disproportionate share of the costs to maintain stability. In endeavoring to replicate the approach to the East Timor crisis and use it as a model for future peacekeeping scenarios, the United States will not consistently find a regional actor to duplicate the role Australia performed. Without U.S. leadership, and absent a UN force or regional actor capable of quickly deploying a peacekeeping force to a rapidly deteriorating situation, it is implausible that a comparable future crisis will be resolved without unacceptable humanitarian costs.
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