What Is The Quad?
The following is an excerpt of ASPI Associate Director Blake Berger's joint op-ed with Victoria Cooper, Lucas Myers, Shu Uchida, and Gaurav Saini, originally published in The Diplomat.
On May 24, the Quad minilateral arrangement between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States was scheduled to hold a fourth leaders’ summit in Sydney, but the debt limit crisis in Washington forced a cancellation. Yet in a signal that the Quad may have finally found its footing, the leaders rapidly reorganized and met on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 20. Although there are clear challenges to the Quad – not least domestic politics – the grouping held together and adapted to the circumstances.
Despite another statement articulating the group’s shared principles and vision for the region, deciphering the Quad’s exact role in the Indo-Pacific prompts significant debate.
On one side, the Quad is viewed as a security-focused grouping, structured to deter Chinese aggression. Others argue that it’s a vehicle for promoting and bolstering prosperity through the provision of public goods. Still others struggle to define the Quad’s purpose as separate or distinct from other regional groupings like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Pacific Islands Forum, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association. The most recent statement might even suggest the Quad leaders are self-conscious about the group’s potential to step on the toes of existing regional structures.
What is the Quad? What does it do and what does it do differently from other groupings?
As think tank experts from all four Quad countries, over the past several months, we have engaged, debated, and heard from policymakers, analysts, and each other, reaching our own consensus about defining the Quad and its role in the Indo-Pacific.
The Quad serves more than a strategic or economic purpose. It can be the core stabilizing pivot around which an inclusive rules-based order can evolve and thrive in the Indo-Pacific. To do so, the Quad must provide clarity on its contributions to regional prosperity through the delivery of public goods, and embrace ambiguity on security issues.