A NATO In Asia? Not Going to Happen, nationalinterest.org

Zhuoran Li, B.A. in Foreign Affairs and East Asian Studies at the University of Virginia.

After Secretary of State Mike Pompeo completed his Asian tour in October, many observers labeled this tour as “anti-China.” He attended the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) conference in Tokyo and visited states with shared security concerns about China like Vietnam. This tour brought more discussion about the role of Quad in East Asian national security. Prime Minister Abe initiated Quad in 2007 as “an Asian arc of democracy” to contain China. But different interests among its members contributed to its collapse in 2008. Later, Japan, Australia, India, and the United States revived Quad in 2017 to secure a “rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.” With China’s growing power and assertiveness, many suspect Quad as the first step toward a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-like alliance in the Indo-Pacific. However, a comparison between American security establishments in Europe and Asia shows that a multilateral alliance in Asia is unlikely to emerge. […]

Second, bilateral treaties in East Asia give the United States more influence over its allies. Washington and its Asian allies share security interests, such as promoting regional stability and encountering Chinese and North Korean threats. However, there are conflicts of interest among them. For example, both Japan and Korea refuse to increase their share of defense spending. They also have strong economic ties with China, which they do not want to jeopardize over the Sino-American strategic conflicts. A multilateral treaty would allow Japan and Korea to resist the American pressure jointly. Bilateral treaties ensure that the U.S. can deal with them separately. Thus, this arrangement maximizes American leverage over its Asian allies. Läs artikel