US foreign policy in South East Asia in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was ostensibly anti-communist. It involved civil and military action in a wide number of countries in this region.
Most notably, in connection with the Domino theory, the United States tried to prevent the spread of political and economic change by civil and military action towards Soviet-style politics and economics.
In the opinions of some participants, this action gave breathing space for existing capitalist states to solidify their power. For example, here's a quote by modern Singapore's Founding Father, Lee Kuan Yew:
Although American intervention failed in Vietnam, it bought time for the rest of Southeast Asia. In 1965, when the US military moved massively into South Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines faced internal threats from armed communist insurgents and the communist underground was still active in Singapore. Indonesia, in the throes of a failed communist coup, was waging konfrontasi, an undeclared war against Singapore. The Philippines was claiming Sabah in East Malaysia. Standards of living were low and economic growth slow. America's action enabled non-communist Southeast Asia to put their own houses in order. By 1975 (when the Vietnam war ended) they were in better shape to stand up to the communists. Had there been no US intervention, the will of these countries to resist them would have melted and Southeast Asia would have most likely gone communist. The prosperous emerging market economies of Asean ( Association of Southeast Asian Nations) were nurtured during the Vietnam War years.1
- Is the belief that US military action in South East Asia gave time and space to these countries held by a significant body of scholars? If so, what is their opinion.
- In what ways did other US civil and military actions impact on the development of secure capitalist states in South East Asia?
- Is there any scholarly critique of opinions such as Yew's of US involvement in South East Asia? If so, what is the content of this critique?