UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Navigating the great powers : Myanmar and Southeast Asian security strategies Meredith, Katherine Jane


Small states face a unique predicament in the international system, and have been faced with the necessity of developing a range of strategies to ensure their survival in the midst of great power struggles. In the literature on Southeast Asia, scholars have developed a number of ways of conceptualizing the complex strategies used at the individual and regional level by small states in this region to pursue their security, including triangular politics, complex balancing, omni-enmeshment, and hedging. Through an examination of the case of Myanmar, this thesis finds that in certain situations, the actions taken by states simply do not fit with these conceptualizations; moreover, the pursuit of these security strategies at the bilateral level may be in tension with their pursuit at the multilateral level. This paper argues that the lack of fit and bilateral-multilateral divide are due to assumptions of homogeneity related to the goals and circumstances of states found in the literature on Southeast Asia. In particular, these models of state strategies in do not leave adequate room for countries with different conceptualizations of security and regional order. Similarly, they do not anticipate or explain actions in a country where China is both the main economic and security partner, but rather assume partnerships with the United States. These gaps must be addressed and the models of state strategies extended if analysts are to have a full understanding of countries like Myanmar, as well as broader regional dynamics.

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