Insights and Analysis

Southeast Asia’s Multipolar Future: A Conversation with Tom Parks and Scot Marciel

August 9, 2023

By John Rieger


A view of Singapore. Southeast Asia has prospered since the end of the Cold War. It does not wish to see those tensions return. (Photo Flickr user/

The member states of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have flourished since the end of the Cold War. But Southeast Asia is rapidly becoming a competitive space for geopolitical rivalries. The growing strategic divide between the United States and China is raising concerns in the region that they may once again be forced to choose sides. But some say we are past the era when superpowers can dictate the regional order, and today small and middle powers can maintain their sovereignty and shape their own destiny. Is Southeast Asia moving towards a multipolar order and greater agency?

Joining us on this week’s podcast with his thoughtful analysis is The Asia Foundation’s Thomas Parks, author of the new book Southeast Asia’s Multipolar Future: Averting a New Cold War. Also joining us is Stanford University’s Scot Marciel, former U.S. ambassador to Myanmar and Indonesia, and the author of Imperfect Partners: The United States and Southeast Asia.



Thomas Parks and Amb. Scot Marciel at The Asia Foundation, July 31, 2023 (Photo: the Asia Foundation)

Related programs: Regional and International Relations
Related topics: ASEAN


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