"Washington has a dark past in the region—its air campaign during the Vietnam War made Laos the most bombed country per capita in history and it even laid the seeds for today’s dams with plans in the 1950s to “tame the Mekong.” The United States, with its strengths in science, technology, and entrepreneurship, has a brief but real opportunity to empower Laos to become a regional leader in twenty-first century energy planning and help it achieve its self-determined goals. By grasping it, Obama can leave behind the United States’ regrettable legacy and begin to deliver on the promises of the rebalance to Asia," write David Roberts and Jalel Sager in Foreign Affairs.
"To ensure smooth progress in his diplomatic outreach to China, the Duterte administration has de-emphasized the arbitration outcome and has sought to de-multilateralize the disputes by not vigorously raising the South China Sea disputes in the ASEAN. Obviously, improved ties between the Philippines and China aren’t necessarily inimical to American interests, since the Obama administration has welcomed diplomatic resolution of regional disputes. But Duterte's approach to the United States has certainly raised eyebrows in Washington," writes Richard Javad Heydarian in a guest post for CFR blog Asia Unbound.
"For now, it suits the great powers to court ASEAN, taking part in its forums and indulging its notions of centrality. Even China would hate to be blamed for the club's demise. And so ASEAN summits continue to proliferate. That is no disaster. For all their imperfections, they are the only game in Asia, a region with a heap of problems and a dearth of structures. They provide a rare opportunity for global leaders to build trust in bilateral meetings on the sidelines. And, for ASEAN, a scintilla of influence is preferable to none at all," writes the Economist.