Minilateralism and US security policy in the Indo-Pacific: The legacy, viability and deficiencies of a new security approach

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Under the transitional presidency of Donald Trump, the future relevance of the post-war American bilateral alliance network in the Indo-Pacific—also known as the ‘hub-and-spokes’ system—is becoming increasingly contentious. This chapter argues that while this network is still beneficial for the United States and its regional allies in realising their common security interests, it can be strengthened by the judicious application of minilateral security politics. The extent to which any minilateralism initiative reflects a coherent US and allied blueprint to supplement existing alliance missions and capabilities, however, remains uncertain. Indeed, the very essence of ‘minilateral security’ is unclear. To date, minilateral security initiatives have yielded mixed results due to differences among participant states about purpose and a relatively sporadic approach to managing advertised goals. After discussing the nature and rationales of minilateralism, the history of minilateral security’s evolution in an Indo-Pacific context is reviewed. The intensifying debate over the advantages and drawbacks of minilateralism as an instrument of alliance politics is then discussed. The chapter concludes by observing that ‘functional multilateralism’ directed towards realising uncontroversial ‘second-order’ security objectives mostly unrelated to core state-centric questions of sovereignty, territorial claims and ideology has been successful in supplementing bilateral and multilateral security politics in the Indo-Pacific region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMinilateralisn in the Indo-Pacific: The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Mechanism, and ASEAN
    Editors Bhubhindar Singh and Sarah Teo
    Place of PublicationAbingdon United Kingdom
    PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
    ISBN (Print)9780367430375
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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