When Suharto lies on its deathbed and its successor in Indonesia is visiting Washington, it is interesting to observe the changes in the Far East since 1967. That year, the United States fought in Viet Nam, China carried out its Cultural Revolution, Suharto ascended to power fighting against the communist guerrilla and the only democracy in the region was Japan. Nowadays, democracy has been widely expanded across that region, which also enjoys a great economic growth. That democratic revolution was the result of the changes in the US policies made by Ronald Reagan.
It began with the people’s revolution in the Philippines after the assassination of Benigno Aquino. Paul Wolfowitz and George P. Shultz then convinced Reagan not to support Marcos anymore. In the next two years, the United States demanded the implementation of reforms in South Korea and Taiwan. This showed that the promotion of democracy was not a new policy. Establishing a democracy in Asia was difficult and chaotic. Negotiating the crisis of development was a delicate matter. It was not easy for the United States to handle those crises, especially because some of the elected governments had policies contrary to our interests. Nevertheless, the Indonesian example proved that democracy was not contrary to the Asian values or to Islam, as some people believed. And we should not forget either that today Asia is much friendlier to us than when Suharto took power.

Wall Street Journal (United States)

Asia’s Democratic Values”, by Francis Fukuyama, Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2005.