Minilateralism in the Indo-Pacific

An Effective Approach for Deterrence?

Traditionally, the United States has relied on its bilateral network of alliances to shape the security architecture in Asia. However, as China continues to expand its military presence and assertiveness across the region, the United States and its likeminded allies and partners have responded to this challenge through new and evolving security arrangements. The enhancement of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad) has allowed the United States to deepen cooperation with Japan, Australia, and India on a broad range of security threats, while the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) partnership seeks to bolster advanced military capabilities as a recent initiative to regional stability.

Though these initiatives have developed largely due to China’s rise, just how reliable are they and other minilateral structures in deterring ongoing coercion and aggression in the Indo-Pacific? Hosted by the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) in partnership with the Australian National University and Stanford University, this event will build from the recent Asia Policy roundtable “Minilateral Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific” to tackle this critical question of whether minilateralism is an effective approach to deter hostile forces and navigate the Indo-Pacific’s increasingly complex security environment.



Alison Szalwinski, The National Bureau of Asian Research


Arzan Tarapore, Stanford University

Brendan Taylor, Australian National University


Jennifer Kavanagh, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Alison Szalwinski, The National Bureau of Asian Research

Speaker Bios

Jennifer Kavanagh is a senior fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A political scientist by training, she has spent her career studying national security threats and their consequences for U.S. foreign policy and defense strategy. At Carnegie, Kavanagh’s research explores dynamics in contemporary geopolitics, with a focus on relationships between major powers, including the United States, European Union, Russia, and China. Her current project focuses on how policymakers can use different types of networks, coalitions, and partnerships as to compete more effectively in an increasingly multipolar world. Prior to joining Carnegie, Kavanagh was a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where she served as director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program in RAND’s Arroyo Center. Kavanagh received an AB in government from Harvard University and a PhD in political science and public policy from the University of Michigan. She is also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.

Arzan Tarapore is a member of the Board of Advisors at the National Bureau of Asian Research. Tarapore is a Research Scholar on South Asia at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. Combining a PhD with 13 years of government experience, his research focuses on strategy, military effectiveness, and Indo-Pacific security issues. He previously held research positions at the East-West Center in Washington, D.C., and the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. His work has been published in Asia Policy, the Washington Quarterly, Joint Force Quarterly, the Washington Post blog the Monkey Cage, War on the Rocks, and the Interpreter. Prior to his scholarly career, Mr. Tarapore served in the Australian Defence Department in a variety of analytic, management, and liaison positions, which included a diplomatic posting to the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C. He holds a PhD in war studies from King’s College London, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a BA (Hons) from the University of New South Wales.

Brendan Taylor is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), Australian National University. He was Head of SDSC from 2011-2016. He is a specialist on great power strategic relations in the Asia-Pacific, East Asian ‘flashpoints’, and Asian security architecture. His writings on these subjects have appeared in such leading journals as Survival, The Washington Quarterly, Australian Foreign Affairs, The Pacific Review, International Affairs and Review of International Studies. He is the author or editor of 14 books, including The Four Flashpoints: How Asia Goes to War (Black Inc, 2018) and Dangerous Decade: Taiwan’s Security and Crisis Management (IISS, 2019). He is a regular op-ed contributor to such publications as The Australian, Nikkei Asian Review, The Australian Financial Review, The Interpreter, East Asia Forum and The Strategist.

Alison Szalwinski is Vice President of Research at NBR. Ms. Szalwinski provides executive leadership to NBR’s policy research agenda and oversees research teams in Seattle and Washington, D.C. She is the author of numerous articles and reports and co-editor of the Strategic Asia series along with Ashley J. Tellis and Michael Wills. Prior to joining NBR, Szalwinski spent time at the U.S. Department of State and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her research interests include U.S. alliance relationships, U.S.-China relations, and the implications of great-power competition for U.S. alliances in the region. She holds a BA in Foreign Affairs and History from the University of Virginia and an MA in Asian Studies from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

This activity was supported by the Australian government through a grant from the Australian Department of Defence. The views expressed are those of the speakers and are not necessarily those of the Australian government or the Australian Department of Defence.