The Association of Southeast Asia Nations was founded 52 years ago with purely political aims. The field of participants was subsequently enlarged to ten states, also extending its competencies. Integration continued unabated, until the current situation, where the traditional neutrality is no longer likely to be sufficient and profitable. The signing of the founding document in Bangkok, on August 8, 1967, confirmed an indisputable, decisive choice.
The five acceding states—Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand—were all allies of the United States and the United Kingdom. Their allegiance was very strong, their alignment Manichean. They were all committed to defeating internal enemies, Communist uprisings and radical anticolonial aspirations. Twenty years after the end of World War II, the war in the eastern Pacific had not become as cold as in Europe. On the contrary, it remained a very hot war. Memories are vivid of the carnage of the Korean civil war, of the tensions for the sovereignty of Taiwan taken over by Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists, of the trans-Himalayan war between India, China and Pakistan, and of the endless border skirmishes affecting all the countries.