As a result of this drawing together, it was hoped that regional unity would naturally result and that economic integration within the region would be easier to facilitate. One of the fundamental purposes of ASEAN, then—at least on the surface—was to accelerate the economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region (Mahapatra 1990: 19). Furthermore, ASEAN’s founders hoped to promote regional peace and stability in the region by encouraging a “respect for justice and rule of law” (Mahapatra 1990: 19, 26). Less obvious to the outside observer but certainly part of the driving force behind the development of ASEAN was the desire to solve Asian problems in an Asian way rather than by imitating Western solutions (Mahapatra 1990: 6). However, this was an ambitious task, because
The economies of the individual ASEAN member countries were closely integrated with a world economic system that was dominated by the United States. These countries were dependent, for their survival as well as prosperity, on foreign markets, loans and investments” (Mahapatra 1990: 27).
ASEAN, however, is not a “purely” Asian concept. Instead, the idea for the regional block, to a large extent, was conceptualized by the United States. U.S. President Lyndon Johnson presented the ASEAN concept as “an alliance of all the free nations of the Pacific and Asia” and invited the Asian countries to “come together in a co-operative effort to bring about economic development of the region,” promising them the U.S.’s financial assistance and support (Mahapatra 1990: 70). For all intents and purposes, this is what everyone believed ASEAN would accomplish at the time, including the ASEAN member nations themselves. However, the cooperative development of the nations was only the covering for the U.S.’s real agenda: to halt the progress of Communism and use the ASEAN nations and Japan as the roadblocks:
While the goal of the ASEAN