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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume E–12, Documents on East and Southeast Asia, 1973–1976

Editors:
Bradley Lynn Coleman
David Goldman
David Nickles
General Editor:
Edward C. Keefer

United States Government Printing Office
Washington
2011

Department of State
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs



Overview

This volume includes documentation on U.S. relations with Japan, North and South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, ANZUS, Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, SEATO, and ASEAN from 1973 through 1976. The chapter on Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos covers the period from May 1975 through 1976. A chapter on Thailand and Burma will be added once it has been fully cleared for publication.

U.S. policy toward East and Southeast Asia during these years sought to rebalance U.S. policy following the subordination of other concerns to the waging of the Vietnam War. The policies of the Nixon and Ford administrations were also affected by the evolving Sino-American relationship, the Nixon doctrine, and the challenge of pursuing economic growth within a fluctuating international monetary system. During 1975 and 1976, the United States spent a great deal of time reassuring its Asian allies of its commitment to remain engaged in the region, many of whom expressed alarm following the collapse of pro-American governments in South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

In regard to Japan, U.S. and Japanese diplomats remained preoccupied with economic issues, particularly trade disputes, monetary instability, and concern over the international supply of oil, although newer issues, such as environmental policy and space cooperation, assumed a more prominent place within the bilateral relationship. In Korea, the United States sought to modernize the ROK military and regularize its presence on the peninsula, which still rested upon institutions from the era of the Korean War.

Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore posed a variety of challenges to American diplomacy. U.S. aid to Indonesia became a topic of debate within the U.S. government, due to budgetary pressures and congressional questions about the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. U.S. relations with Malaysia focused mainly upon expediting military and development aid to that country. Malaysia’s stability received attention in discussions between the United States and Singapore, especially following the collapse of South Vietnam. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew met repeatedly with U.S. officials, mainly because they found him a good sounding board for American policies toward East Asia.

Disagreements with Australia and New Zealand put strains upon the ANZUS alliance. Australian criticism of U.S. bases and the election of Jim Cairn as Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister produced concern within the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Meanwhile, the governments of the United States and New Zealand clashed over the latter’s desire for a South Pacific nuclear free zone.

U.S.-Philippine relations became increasingly difficult. At the beginning of 1973, U.S. policy-makers were watchful of the challenges posed by the Philippine insurgency, the growing authoritarianism of President Ferdinand Marcos, the capricious behavior of Imelda Marcos, and border disputes involving the Philippines and its neighbors.

Events in Indochina greatly affected U.S. relations with the rest of East Asia. This volume chronicles U.S. interactions with Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, from the evacuation of Saigon and Phnom Penh until the end of 1976. Meanwhile, the United States’ declining presence in Indochina contributed to a modification of its defense posture and alliances with Asian countries. Among the most important of the changes during this period were the dissolution of SEATO and the establishment of ASEAN.