Mapping ASEAN’s Futures

The future of ASEAN is necessarily unknown. Its futures, however, can be guessed with less risk of being wrong. The purpose of this article is not to predict with confidence but to "pandict" with reticence—not to choose one assured future but to scan several that could conceivably occur. Also, what follows is merely a range of possible futures, not the range. The five different ASEANs of the future all too briefly sketched below are meant to be suggestive, but they are neither fully exclusive nor jointly exhaustive. Potentiality outruns imagination. The author's hope is that by doing the easy thing—opening a few doors on paper—he may tempt analysts more knowledgeable than himself to do the hard thing. That truly difficult challenge is to pick the one doorway through which ASEAN is most likely to walk or be pushed through—and to warrant that choice with the comprehensive evidence and thorough reasoning that, for lack of space and expertise, are not found here. That said, this "pandiction" does start with a prediction, and thereafter as well the line between speculation and expectation—the possible and the probable—will occasionally be crossed. In addition, by way of self-critique, the author's postulations may overestimate the importance of China in ASEAN's futures