in addressing challenges from maritime security to China’s rise, and ASEAN’s transformation from an anti-communist bloc to a forum for major powers to engage made the region’s importance clear. Yet US attention tended to be in reaction to particular crises rather than a focus on the region for its own sake, be it the Asianfinancialcrisis of 1997 or the war on terrorism in the early 2000s. Though this pattern had long been evident, it also prevented the rise of a more strategic, region-wide, and balanced approach to Southeast Asia.
Despite the traditional
was shattered by the Asianfinancialcrisis in late 1997. Indonesian growth rates plummeting to negative figures from 6–8 per cent per annum, undermining the legitimacy of a presidency that had already stretched the limits of acceptance to breaking point. Following widespread rioting, Suharto was forced to resign in May 1998 and was replaced by his deputy B. J. Habibie. Habibie, seeking to address the country’s desperate economic and political circumstances, and conscious of Indonesia’s increased dependence on the goodwill of international financial institutions