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Opinion: Want to Foster Peace Among Countries? Look to Southeast Asia

By Kishore Mahbubani
ASEAN leaders gather in September 2016 in Vientiane, Laos, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations. Photo: Visual China
ASEAN leaders gather in September 2016 in Vientiane, Laos, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations. Photo: Visual China

Try imagining a world where the Middle East is at peace. The thought seems almost inconceivable. Imagine a world where Israel and Palestine, two nations splintered from one piece of territory, live harmoniously. Impossible? This is what Malaysia and Singapore accomplished. After an acrimonious divorce in 1965, they live together in peace.

Imagine a world where Egypt, the most populous Islamic country in the Middle East, emerges as a stable and prosperous democracy. Impossible? Then ask yourself how it is that Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country in Southeast Asia — with more than four times as many people as Egypt — has emerged as a beacon of democracy. Egypt and Indonesia both suffered from corruption. And both experienced decades of military rule, under Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Suharto in Indonesia.

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