Future Regional Conflicts

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Future Regional Conflicts:
Myanmar and Papua New Guinea.

Decades of relative peace and prosperity have allowed the new democracies of Southeast Asia the latitude to pursue economic cooperation and relatively stable domestic policies. But while the reasonable stability of ASEAN has allowed its members to support each other’s traditional security interests while settling disputes through non-violent channels (Dosch 2007, p. 211), regional membership in this pluralistic community does not necessarily negate internal conflict of individual members. In fact, at least two low-level ongoing disputes—the Karen-led insurgency in Myanmar and the effective collapse of civil order in Papua New Guinea—have the potential to spill over into neighboring territories and therefore require the intervention of regional or global peacekeepers.
This essay contends that despite the absence from contemporary media and perceived lack of attention by the Australian Government, these two countries are in a state of fundamental turmoil and could be considered as those most likely to require external intervention in the next 10 years. Although Myanmar has been a member of ASEAN in relatively favorable standing since 1997, the junta’s efforts to enforce its rule on the multiethnic population remain controversial both among the ASEAN membership (Than 2005, p. 20) and the wider international community. Several of the nation’s ethnic minorities have sponsored long-term secessionist movements; one of the strongest, that of the Karen culture, has proved to be extremely persistent over the last six decades (Hironaka 2005, p. 78). While the Karen are currently not the military threat to the junta they were before the 1995 fall of Manerplaw (Fong 2008, p. 169), it is not difficult to imagine a scenario in which increasingly systematic reprisals against civilians create an ideal guerilla…...

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