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  • PrefaceSoutheast Asia, the Great Powers, and Regional Security from the Cold War to the PresentIn Honor of Sheldon W. Simon
  • Richard J. Ellings

Sheldon (Shell) Simon, professor emeritus at Arizona State University, burst onto the NBR research agenda in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet collapse by serving as the principal investigator for a project to advise the secretary of defense on post–Cold War security architecture in Southeast Asia. That study led Shell to play a pivotal role at NBR, where he eventually headed our Southeast Asia Program. His many contributions to NBR’s research resulted in books, reports, national and international conferences, and policy briefings for U.S. intelligence, defense, and diplomatic agencies, as well as for the White House and Congress.

The first joint publication on which Shell and I worked was coediting Southeast Asian Security in the New Millennium, published in 1996, which was one of the first examinations of the unprecedented growth and development taking place in Southeast Asia during the 1990s. The shifts in politics, economics, and regional integration that occurred during this time were fundamental to the region as we know it today.

One of our next major publications, The Many Faces of Asian Security, was first conceived at a brainstorming session in Phoenix during two sweltering July days in 1999. Ensconced poolside at a local resort with our notepads, we came up with the idea of a cosponsored research conference that would examine the new security agenda in the Asia-Pacific as the millennium began. The book that emerged from this international conference, edited by Shell, was a timely examination of both enduring and new security concerns that had arisen in post–Cold War Asia.

Shell was centrally involved in several other NBR projects during this period, including leading assessments for U.S. Pacific Command on its theater security cooperation programs and advising several important initiatives on Islamist terrorism in Southeast Asia in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. At the same time, from 2000 onward, Shell played a foundational role in our Strategic Asia Program, contributing the Southeast Asia chapters to the first five books in the series. In each volume, his chapter masterfully laid out the strategic developments in the region and their impact on the United States, providing the reader with a comprehensive regional understanding and the tools to look out at Southeast Asia’s future.

In 2005, we undertook another conference and book initiative that examined the importance and growing complexity of Southeast Asia’s relations with China. By then, the region’s security and continued growth depended on a careful balancing of the markets and influence of China [End Page 2] and the United States. To address the new circumstances, Shell co-led a conference in Singapore, convened by NBR and Singapore’s Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (now part of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies), in August 2005 with Southeast Asian and U.S. specialists on China’s economic, political, and military relations with the region. Admiral Thomas Fargo, who had recently retired as commander of U.S. Pacific Command, joined us in Singapore and gave remarks. The resulting book, China, the United States, and Southeast Asia: Contending Perspectives on Politics, Security, and Economics, edited by Shell and Evelyn Goh, identified areas of convergence and divergence in U.S. and Southeast Asian assessments of China’s rise and factors that could alter the trajectory of Chinese–Southeast Asian relations.

The following roundtable discussion features the contributions of some of Shell’s close colleagues and former students who have since become experts in their own right. This series of essays, building on Shell’s legacy, amply describes the importance of Asia, and Southeast Asia in particular, for U.S. foreign policy and highlights so many of the issues on which he focused during his long and successful career as one of the United States’ premier Asia scholars. Although Shell has now formally retired from research and teaching at Arizona State University, I am delighted that he remains on the editorial board of Asia Policy and that we have been able to recognize his contributions in this roundtable. Shell is an...


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