What do international relations scholars and policymakers in the U.S. care about? Not Southeast Asia, if the results in this new report (PDF) are to be believed. Here is Figure 7.
If you look closely, it appears that precisely zero policymakers consider Southeast Asia to be the number one foreign policy priority for the United States. I snarkily wonder how that would change if you renamed the South China Sea to the East Sea (Biển Đông) or the West Philippine Sea. I am pretty sure that my own vote is responsible for the tiny bar that Southeast Asia gets under “Scholar Studies, Primary.”
These findings are certainly not surprising, but they might be a little bit depressing for those in my corner of academia. They are also an interesting contrast with my sense that among comparative political scientists and political economists, Southeast Asia is doing quite well (see here and here).
What do you think?