Does the Indo-Pacific Need an Alliance like NATO?

Joshua Alley

On August 31, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun told an Indian audience that the “Indo-Pacific region is actually lacking in strong multilateral structures.  They don’t have anything of the fortitude of NATO or the European Union.  … there is certainly an invitation there at some point to formalize a structure like this.” This statement raises an important question: should the United States try to create an organization like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the Indo-Pacific? In a word, no. […]

There are three reasons to avoid emulating NATO in the Indo-Pacific. First, the potential members lack the shared interests that an alliance needs to succeed. Although members of the Quad, and many East Asian countries, are at odds with Chinese territorial claims, they have very different and specific concerns. For example, India faces disputes on its Himalayan frontier, while Japan is concerned with conflict over the Senkaku islands. An alliance like NATO might obligate Japan to fight if war broke out in the Himalayas, or India to go to war over a maritime dispute in the South China Sea. Attempting to create an alliance is thus a recipe for failed negotiations or alliance treaty violations. The members of a hypothetical Indo-Pacific alliance organization do have a common concern over China’s power plays in the region, but the scenarios for mutual benefit are too varied. Läs artikel