March 9, 2011: Michael Wesley

(Click to enlarge) From left to right, Dr. Michael Wesley, Lowy Institute for International Policy, and Dr. Satu Limaye, East-West Center in Washington, discuss Southeast Asia's geostrategic importance.

Why Southeast Will Be the Cockpit of 21st Century Geopolitics


WASHINGTON, DC (March 11, 2011) -- The Indian Ocean has recently grown in importance, due to the evolving economic relationships located around the Pacific Rim. Thus, Dr. Michael Wesley believes that Southeast Asia, which straddles both the Indian and Pacific oceans, will be at the center of Asia's evolving order in the years ahead. He argues that "we need to start talking and thinking in terms of the 'Indo-Pacific,' a single geostrategic realm."

While some assume Southeast Asia to be a stable, benign sub-region of little consequence when stacked up against great power relations in Asia, Dr. Michael Wesley believes that notion is dangerously misguided and overlooks some compelling strategic trends that are developing in the region. The first is the emerging Indo-Pacific realm which has been formed by increased intra-regional trade. Second, is the emerging pattern of power alignments and competition, which he described as a pyramid, with China at the top. Lastly, Wesley noted that regional institutions are "gradually being overwhelmed by these new strategic dynamics to the point where they are no longer able to play the role they were intended to play."


This event was co-hosted with the Georgetown University Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies.


Michael Wesley is the executive director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy. He also holds posts as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an adjunct professor at both Griffith University and The University of Sydney. Previously, Dr. Wesley was a professor of international relations and the director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University. He was also the assistant director-general for transnational issues at the Office of National Assessments and a senior lecturer in international relations at the University of New South Wales. Additionally, from 2007 to 2009, Dr. Wesley was the editor of the Australian Journal of International Affairs. His most recent books include Energy Security in Asia (Routledge, 2007); The Howard Paradox: Australian Diplomacy in Asia 1996-200 6 (ABC Books, 2007); and Making Australian Foreign Policy, 2nd edition, with Allan Gyngell (Cambridge University Press, 2007).