ASEAN, Sovereignty and Intervention in Southeast Asia by Lee Jones (auth.)

By Lee Jones (auth.)

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Extra info for ASEAN, Sovereignty and Intervention in Southeast Asia

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However, the interests of dominant forces do not translate directly into sovereignty regimes in a smooth, uncomplicated fashion. Social conflict is always imbricated in and conditioned by broader processes of geopolitical and economic developments which, along with continual contestation of state power and the difficulty of coordinating policies at the interstate level, shape what emerges in practice. The rejection of a statist approach and the focus on social conflict as the fundamental driver behind sovereignty regimes stems from a basic ontological assumption that power is not some thing or capacity vested in state apparatuses but rather is widely dispersed and inheres in all social action.

The regime only differs from the insurgents here in that it possesses the state apparatus and can thus manipulate the legal norms of sovereignty to help control the scope of the conflict to further its own interests. Of course, there is nothing automatic about a government’s definition of sovereignty and intervention winning out over that of its opponents; the outcome depends on prevailing constellations of power, interests and ideology at the international level. Successfully claiming sovereignty depends to some extent on achieving external recognition.

If one set of social forces is building state apparatuses to suppress another, demands for ‘non-interference’ are used to buy space and time for them to impose their will on others. It is invoked to block opponents of these forces and their state-making project from drawing on ‘external’ resources and support that could alter the balance of forces in their struggle. To succeed in defeating ‘internal threats’ which oppose the construction of social, political and economic order on a territorial-national basis (or simply on the basis favoured by the forces behind an incumbent regime) is not simply a natural, inevitable and desirable stage of political development.

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