Quadrilateral Security Dialogue
|Type||Inter-governmental security forum|
|Membership||United States of America, Japan, Australia, India|
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) was an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that was maintained by talks between member countries. The dialogue was initiated in 2007 by Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, with the support of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar. The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power, and the Chinese government responded to the Quadrilateral dialogue by issuing formal diplomatic protests to its members.
The QSD ceased following the withdrawal of Australia during Kevin Rudd’s tenure as Prime Minister, reflecting ambivalence in Australian policy over the growing tension between the United States and China in the Asia-Pacific. Following Rudd's replacement by Julia Gillard in 2010, enhanced military cooperation between the United States and Australia was resumed, leading to the placement of U.S. Marines near Darwin, Australia, overlooking the Timor Sea and Lombok Strait.
- 1 Background
- 2 Creation of the Quadrilateral
- 3 Rudd’s departure
- 4 Obama Administration and Gillard's return
- 5 Analysis
- 6 See also
- 7 References
Strategic framework of U.S.-China conflict
In the early 21st century, the strategic preoccupation of the United States with Iraq and Afghanistan served as a distraction from major power shifts in the Asia-Pacific, brought about by increased Chinese economic power, which undermined America’s traditional role in the region. In the long term the United States has sought a policy of "soft containment" of China by organizing strategic partnerships with democracies at its periphery. While U.S. alliances with Japan, Australia and India now form the bulwark of this policy, the development of closer U.S. military ties to India has been a complex process since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Australian commentaries have shown mixed attitudes to a Quadrilateral security arrangement isolating China.
India-U.S. military cooperation
Active U.S.-Indian military cooperation expanded in 1991 following the economic liberalization of India when American Lt. General Claude C. Kicklighter, then commander of the United States Army Pacific, proposed army-to-army cooperation. This cooperation further expanded in the mid 1990s under an early Indian center-right coalition, and in 2001 India offered the United States military facilities within its territory for offensive operations in Afghanistan. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee signed a "New Framework for India-US Defense" in 2005 under the Indian United Progressive Alliance government, increasing cooperation regarding military relations, defense industry and technology sharing, and the establishment of a "Framework on maritime security cooperation." India and the United States conducted dozens of joint military exercises in the ensuing years before the development of a Quadrilateral dialogue, interpreted as an effort to "contain" China. Indian political commentator Brahma Chellaney referred to the emerging Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India as part of a new "Great Game" in Asia, and Indian diplomat M. K. Rasgotra has maintained that American efforts to shape security pacts in Asia will result not in an "Asian Century," but rather in an "American Century in Asia."
Controversy in India over China
Some like U.S. Lt. General Jeffrey B. Kohler viewed U.S.-India defense agreements as potentially lucrative for American defense industries and oversaw the subsequent sale of American military systems to India. Nevertheless some Indian commentators opposed increased American military cooperation with India, citing the American presence in Iraq, hostility to Iran and "attempts at encircling China" as fundamentally destabilizing to Asian peace, and objecting to the presence of American warships with nuclear capabilities off the coast of southern India, or to American calls for the permanent hosting of American naval vessels in Goa or Kochi.
Creation of the Quadrilateral
Trilateral Security Dialogue (TSD)
The Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) is a series of trilateral meetings between the United States, Japan, and Australia. The TSD originally convened at senior officials level in 2002, then was upgraded to ministerial level in 2005. The United States expected regional allies to help facilitate evolving U.S. global strategy to fight against a war on terrorism and nuclear proliferation. In return, Japan and Australia expected benefits including continued U.S. strategic involvement and the maintenance of strategic guarantees in the region.
The concept of a "Democratic Peace"
In early 2007, Prime Minister Abe proposed the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or "Quadrilateral Initiative", under which India would join a formal multilateral dialogue with Japan, the United States and Australia.
The initiation of an American, Japanese, Australian and Indian defense arrangement, modeled on the concept of a Democratic Peace, has been credited to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Quadrilateral was supposed to establish an "Asian Arc of Democracy," envisioned to ultimately include countries in central Asia, Mongolia, the Korean peninsula, and other countries in Southeast Asia: "virtually all the countries on China’s periphery, except for China itself." This has led some critics, such as former U.S. State Department official Morton Abramowitz, to call the project "an anti-Chinese move," while others have called it a "democratic challenge" to the projected Chinese century, mounted by Asian powers in coordination with the United States. While China has traditionally favored the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Quadrilateral was viewed as an "Asian NATO;" Daniel Twining of Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has written that the arrangement "could lead to military conflict," or could instead "lay an enduring foundation for peace" if China becomes a democratic leader in Asia.
Formal initiation isolates China
China sent diplomatic protests to all four members of the Quadrilateral before any formal convention of its members. In May 2007 in Manila, Australian Prime Minister John Howard participated with other members in the inaugural meeting of the Quadrilateral at Cheney’s urging, one month after joint naval exercises near Tokyo by India, Japan and the United States. In September 2007 further naval exercises were held in the Bay of Bengal, including Australia. These were followed in October by a further security agreement between Japan and India, ratified during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Tokyo, to promote sea lane safety and defense collaboration; Japan had previously established such an agreement only with Australia.
Though the Quadrilateral initiative of the Bush Administration improved relationships with Delhi, it gave the impression of "encircling" China. The security agreement between Japan and India furthermore made China conspicuous as absent on the list of Japan's strategic partners in Asia. These moves appeared to "institutionally alienate" China, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean), and promote a "Washington-centric" ring of alliances in Asia.
The Japanese Prime Minister succeeding Abe, Taro Aso, downplayed the importance of China in Japan-India pact signed following the creation of the Quadrilateral, stating, "There was mention of China – and we do not have any assumption of a third country as a target such as China." Indian foreign minister Shiv Shankar Menon similarly argued that the defense agreement was long overdue because of Indian freight trade with Japan, and did not specifically target China. On the cusp of visits to China and meetings with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao in January 2008, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared that "India is not part of any so-called contain China effort," after being asked about the Quadrilateral.
Fears over Chinese military spending and missile capacities had helped drive Australia towards a defense agreement with the United States, as outlined by the 2007 Canberra Defense Blueprint; Sandy Gordon of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute had recommended the sale of uranium to India on the basis of similar considerations, as it appeared that the United States was backing it as a "counter to a rising China."  Chinese anger over the Quadrilateral however caused uneasiness within Australia even before the agreements were initiated.
Following his nomination as Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd visited China’s foreign minister Yang Jiechi before visiting Japan, and subsequently organized a meeting between Yang and Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith in which Australia unilaterally announced its departure from the Quadrilateral. Within Australia, this decision was seen as motivated by the uncertainty of Sino-American relations and by the fact that Australia’s principle economic partner, China, was not its principle strategic partner. Rudd may furthermore have feared regional escalations in conflict and attempted to diffuse these via an "Asia-Pacific Union."
Some U.S. strategic thinkers criticized Rudd’s decision to leave Quadrilateral; the former Asia director of the United States National Security Council, Mike Green, said that Rudd had withdrawn in an effort to please China, which had exerted substantial diplomatic effort to achieve that aim. A December 2008 cable authored by U.S. ambassador Robert McCallum and published by Wikileaks reveals that Rudd did not consult United States before leaving the Quadrilateral.
U.S. President Obama's efforts in November 2009 to improve U.S.-Indian relations raised alarms in India and Australia both that a deepening military alliance between these powers could lead to regional escalations. According to analyst John Lee, "For realists... New Delhi has been warily balancing and competing against Beijing from the very moment of India's creation in 1947;" significant tensions between China and India were associated with the disputed Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh, and with Chinese nuclear weapons stationed on the Tibetan Plateau. Rudd’s calculation may have been that as a regional economic power, China was too important to contain through a simplistic Quadrilateral Initiative undertaken by US, India, Japan and Australia in 2007, when many regional powers are hedging their alliances in the event of an American and Japanese decline.
Obama Administration and Gillard's return
Rudd's replacement as Australian Prime Minister by Julia Gillard in June 2010 was associated with a shift in Australian foreign policy towards a closer relationship to the United States and a distancing from China. The Australian, which has written extensively on the Quadrilateral and on Australian defense issues, argued after Rudd’s replacement that "Australia's national interest is best served by continuing to engage and encourage our long-standing ally, the US, to retain its primacy in the region." Despite Gillard's rapprochement with the U.S. and increased U.S.-Australian military cooperation, Rudd's decision to leave the Quadrilateral remains an object of criticism from Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party.
U.S. Marines in northern Australia
Australia’s decision not to sell uranium to India had weakened Quadrilateral alliances, a move also criticized by the Liberal Party; the Party has however backed Gillard's support for a U.S. military presence near Darwin, overlooking the Timor Sea and the Lombok Strait. With support from the United States, Gillard and the Labor party have since reversed policy and backed the sale of uranium to India, which has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. However on 5 September 2014 Australian Prime minister Tonny Abott agreed to sell Uranium to India
According to the American think tank, CNAS, the United States pursued a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in an effort to adapt to an increasingly economically powerful China in the Asia-Pacific, where great power rivalry, massive military investment, social inequality, and contemporary territorial disputes have all made war in Asia "plausible." According to the CNAS, establishing a series of alliances among nations recognized as democratic by the United States furthers its own interests: "It is precisely because of the rise of Chinese power and the longer term trend towards multipolarity in the international system that values can and should serve as a tool of American statecraft today."
Prominent politicians from both Democratic and Republican parties with the United States have voiced support for a more aggressive diplomacy in Asia. During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, President Obama called for a new worldwide concert of democracies to counter the influence of Russia and China in the UN Security Council; key officials of Obama's administration were involved in the Princeton Project, whose final report called for the construction of a new ‘concert of democracies.’ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Policy Planning Director at the State Department, Anne-Marie Slaughter, authored the Princeton Project’s final report, which "called for reconstituting the quadrilateral military partnership among the United States, Japan, Australia and India." John McCain also called for a "league of democracies," and Rudy Giuliani for incorporating Asia’s militarily capable democracies into NATO. The development of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue took place in the context of Chinese military modernization, geared towards contingency in Taiwan Strait but also towards "force projection capabilities." Some U.S. officials view Chinese assertiveness in South China Sea as demonstrated by the naval confrontation between the USNS Impeccable and Chinese naval vessels near Hainan Island.
- Sino-American relations
- India-Japan relations
- Chinese Century
- China containment policy
- United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission
- U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
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