Protesters holding signs with the image of detained Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on Feb. 12. SAI AUNG MAIN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
The prospect of an open-ended mission to restore democracy in Myanmar is making the Southeast Asian bloc’s leaders uneasy. Can the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) thrive amid worsening regional flash points, from the South China Sea to the crisis in Myanmar?
Set up in 1967 to promote regional stability and economic growth, ASEAN has never coalesced into a powerful, integrated community like the European Union, nor does it seek to become one. But the bloc has nonetheless been useful: It has largely kept the peace in the region, mainly through slow-burning dialogues and confidence building among its members, which, in turn, has allowed Southeast Asian countries to focus on domestic stability and economic development.