Minilateral Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific

Minilateral Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific

An Asia Policy roundtable co-edited by Arzan Tarapore, including an essay by Oriana Skylar Mastro.

Arzan Tarapore is the co-editor of the Asia Policy roundtable 'Minilateral Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific' and the co-author of its introductory essay, "Minilaterals and Deterrence: A Critical New Nexus." Oriana Skylar Mastro is the author of the first essay in the roundtable, "Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific." Excerpts from both essays are included below.

Excerpt from "Minilaterals and Deterrence: A Critical New Nexus," by Arzan Tarapore and Brendan Taylor:

As countries around the Indo-Pacific strive to manage the challenges of China’s growing power and assertiveness, they have emphasized two concepts. First, they have increasingly embraced “minilateral” groupings—small, issue-based, informal, and uninstitutionalized partnerships — as a way of coordinating international policy action.

Second, the United States and its allies, such as Australia and Japan, have renewed their commitment to deterrence to maintain regional stability. Rather than relying on institutions to deepen regional integration, which was their preferred option after the end of the Cold War, they are designing defense policies to dissuade potential adversaries, especially China, from revisionist behavior.

The Cold War produced a distinguished body of scholarship addressing the concept of deterrence.3 There is also a burgeoning literature on minilateral security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.4 Yet little, if any, work has thus far addressed the potential convergence between these two increasingly dominant trends in the region’s security politics. By bringing together six leading security experts to explore the nexus between deterrence and minilateralism, this roundtable constitutes a first attempt to fill this gap. 

Excerpt from "Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific," by Oriana Skylar Mastro:

As China’s military might and tendency toward regional aggression grow, the United States and its allies are increasingly concerned with deterrence. Their strategies seek to prevent Beijing from disrupting the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific by, for example, invading Taiwan or conducting gray-zone operations in the South China Sea.

Yet deterring China with minilateral groupings of states is more complex and difficult than traditional deterrence theory might suggest. This essay lays out some of the unique characteristics of the China challenge before considering how minilaterals can best enhance deterrence in these circumstances.