Expert Speak Raisina Debates
Published on Jan 23, 2019
Pivot to democracy the real promise of the Quad
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One year ago, the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi delivered the most iconic image to date of the “Quad”: admirals from Australia, India, Japan, and the United States on one stage. The four admirals — the Australian and Indian naval chiefs, the head of then-U.S. PACOM (renamed as INDOPACOM in May 2018), and the head of Japan’s joint staff — stood shoulder-to-shoulder soon after the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy call for renewed quadrilateral cooperation, and just weeks after the first Quad gathering since 2007. The image of four militaries in concert, as it were, took on outsized symbolism by showing the potential of four great democracies to secure the Indo-Pacific.

flurry of articles highlighting the military potential the Quad represents followed. Given its less-than-alliance-level formation, however, and some of its members’ various hesitancies about regular military activities involving all four, a maritime and military-heavy emphasis may well be a vision too freighted with outsized expectations. More importantly, by over-militarizing the idea of the Quad, and limiting its scope to maritime security, analysts and policymakers will miss a strategic opportunity to focus on protecting what binds these four countries together in the first place: democracy. A broader agenda encompassing the range of civilian security and technology issues now coming to the fore will better fulfill the Quad’s promise.

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Alyssa Ayres

Alyssa Ayres

Alyssa Ayres is a senior fellow for India Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). She has served as deputy assistant ...

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