Stronger leaders are finally in place in fragile Asia — leaders who can deliver domestic reform and economic growth. But if these leaders assert their strength against each other or vis-a-vis the U.S. over security matters, regional stability could be upended.
It is not a given that ASEAN won't condemn Thailand's recent military coup. At present, though, most neighbors regard the events as an internal matter while more than two-thirds of Thais surveyed report being happier now than before the intervention.
Reversing China's oil-drilling activities in a part of the South China China also claimed by Vietnam may be asking too much. But it will take more than Washington's finger wagging to convince Beijing that there is real cost against taking further steps.
Recent developments in Thailand may put paid to the international media's tendency to make sense of the protests by describing the "red shirts" as representing the poor and the "yellow shirts" as the elite.