QUAD Masquerading NATO


While the gravity of geo-politics and geo-economics have witnessed a shift from Transatlantic to Indo-Pacific, Quad has gained in currency. The Quad is a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue of India, Japan, the United States, and Australia with the potential of becoming a mutual defense alliance like NATO. The growing aggression of China in Asia has impacted the Quad members and resulted in like-minded nations collaborating to counter the common belligerent nation, China. NATO was formed to counter the USSR’s growing power during the Cold War. China challenges America’s hegemony and alters the global order; Quad can be the NATO of the twenty-first century. The Cold War was based on the ideological differences between the United States and USSR that resulted in defense and economic competition between the two superpowers. The Chinese defying American hegemony and taking power in Asia. This is Cold War II. Similar to the Cold War, the United States and China have ideological differences on liberty (Ideological) and pursuits of happiness (Economic) that challenge the global order. The Quad counters similar challenges like NATO during the Cold War, with China’s growing aggression in the South China sea, trade war with the United States, border disputes with India, and the trade restrictions on Australia are contributing to the strengthening of bonds among members to counter China’s global arrogance.

Cold War II

The impacted geopolitics of the world due to China’s power politics has created insecurity for a liberal international order, threatening the hegemony of the United States. The Cold War has returned to world politics with a two-decade break-up in the twenty-first century. Similar to the USSR in the Cold War, China is investing intensively to build allies in developing nations with the Belt and Road initiative to achieve its hegemonic status ambition. The Quad members are balancing players against China’s aggression in Indo-pacific. The United States supported the NATO allies to fight the USSR. In the present geopolitical context, the US has taken a firm stand in support of democratic allies in Asia to counter China and in calling for engagement with Taiwan. During the Cold war, USSR expanded its military capabilities and heavily invested in nuclear arsenal to fight the United States but in the twenty-first century, the form of war has evolved to be more cyber and space-oriented, and China’s growing cyber and space power can be countered by Quad, Asia’s NATO. Quad members are technologically sound and superior. 

The United States, along with its allies, is now challenging China on world forums by taking a stronger stance against China’s human rights violation in Xinjiang and democratic protest in Hong Kong. The support by the United States and its allies for littoral states in Nine-Dash line, Taiwan, Thailand, and Bhutan are likely to increase in coming years that will intensify the Cold War II between the two. China’s race against the United States and resultant geopolitical developments is similar to the Cold War between the USSR and the United States because it is fighting another Communist regime with the same characteristics as the USSR. With China’s growing economic and military strength, it is contesting for the world superpower similar to the USSR after World War II. According to Thucydides’ trap, an apparent tendency to war exists when an emergent power threatens to supplant an existing great power as an international hegemon. The Quad in case of another faceoff will stand tall against China’s alliance with Pakistan, Russia, and Iran just like NATO stood against the USSR.

Quad’s Prospective

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue started in 2007. It resurfaced in 2017 out of necessity to balance China’s increasing strength in the Indo-Pacific region. The Quad has the potential to influence the Indo-Pacific region’s geopolitics starting with maritime exercises and Naval cooperation. The grouping of the four countries is based on liberal democratic values, and they have announced a military coalition as like-minded nations. The Quad members are against the growing power and repeated provocation of China and changing power dynamics of the world, the coalition will become the NATO of East due to China’s aggressive politics that is disrupting the liberal international order, values and the United State’s hegemony. The future of the Quad lies in evolving aggression of China, it is taking a hard stance against the United States in world forums but due to the underlying ideological differences, China will challenge the United States in economy and military to become the world hegemon in the future, and that will result in the conversion of the Quad: a military coalition, to the Asian NATO a military alliance between the United States, Australia, Japan, and India.

The geo-politics of the twenty-first century also point towards the rapidly changing power dynamics in Asia and the Middle East that will give space to China to exercise its power, the removal of forces from Afghanistan and increasing China’s relation with Iran in the Middle East is providing China the opportunity to expand its ideological influence and counter United States hegemony by challenging the world order.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted the world order with China’s improved ties with weak economies and vaccine diplomacy to influence world politics. While the world economy paused, China made billions of dollars and inched closer to compete with the US in terms of GDP. The COVID-19 pandemic and China’s influence over World health organization have challenged United State’s hold over global institutions, but the vaccine diplomacy cooperation among the Quad members resulted in increasing success of the Quad and evolving interest in expanding Quad to become the Asian NATO.

India’s View on Quad

India is a peace-loving country with friendly ties but after the military standoff in Galwan Valley, India’s interest in the Quad has increased rapidly. India has now taken the bold step of being a proud member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. This highlights the change in the approach of the Indian foreign policymakers concerning the Indo-Pacific region. Due to China’s significantly increased activity in the Indo-Pacific region, India has realized that it needs to counter these Chinese initiatives as a Chinese-dominated Indo-pacific region would greatly deter and impact India’s external and internal policies. The border dispute between India and China and the military standoff in the Galwan Valley has further impacted relations. S. Jaishankar, Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2021, denounced speculations about the Quad being Asia’s NATO but the growing aggression of China and the continued military standoff on the border is likely to change India’s stance on the Quad. The Quad for India is not yet the military alliance but the coalition of like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific region. The military alliance with the United States through Quad will help India counter China’s aggression and build better economic and defense ties with the United States. China’s financial support for the South Asian countries, the Belt and Road initiative, and the growing influence of China in the Indian ocean threats India’s national security. With the military alliance of the Quad, India can counter the growing aggression of China and become a regional hegemon.

Masquerading NATO and Conclusion

The South China Sea is adversely affected by China’s naval power, the Quad recent coalition exercises counter China’s aggression against Island states. Global trade and communication are impacted by China’s military advancement in the South China Sea. The coalition of Quad with maritime exercises, surveillance in the South China Sea, and support for its allies will change the geopolitics of Asia, it will therefore become Asia’s NATO. With the United States military power, the Quad will be able to prevent disruption of international law, trade, and order in Asia. Quad has the potential to fill the vacuum of leadership in Asia and counter China’s aggressive policies on the world forum. With the help of the Quad, the Liberal international order will be maintained. The strength of the Quad is in balancing the growing military and economic power in the region.

The formation and the re-emergence of the Quad come with high potential for security alliance in Asia, the Quad is likely to succeed in hybrid war of the twenty-first century because of their combined military capabilities. The Quad also needs to combine forces ideologically and politically on the international forum to fight a common disrupting force China to prevent the world order from plunging into chaos. NATO involved the USSR in the weaponry race and the poor economy of the USSR could not balance against the alliance, similarly, the Quad should form an economic and defense alliance to counter China. NATO with the help of the United States fought an unsustainable Ideology during the Cold War and similarly, in the twenty-first Century, the Quad will counter another communist threat to the liberal international order. It is China’s unethical business strategy of debt trap under BRI which is trading money for values, ethos and sovereignty of a nation under the garb of infrastructural development that has unleashed a series of protests in Hungary, Maldives, Samoa and now, Democratic Republic of Congo. China is imposing an existential threat to many nations, liberal ethos, institutional order and the hegemonic power of the United States. This makes the perfect condition for history to repeat itself and like-minded countries to combine forces. Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up. For China, this could mean losing Taiwan and Hong Kong and a series of massive protests in Xinjiang and Tibet.

For the Quad to succeed, it needs to have a clearer vision for itself. It is significant for individuals from the Quad to be more dynamic and tackle China with strategic planning. It is likewise critical to show receptiveness and guarantee that all discussion of a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ is something beyond a simple motto. India, Japan, and Australia can start to lead the pack in infrastructural projects, while the United States too should be in any way more supportive of dynamics in pushing ahead the vision of availability. The Quad should zero in on building a powerful territorial conference component and organize with ASEAN countries on issues of local significance. The Quad needs an aggressive approach in the region, and it needs a military capacity building that can counter China’s efforts in the South China Sea and Indo- Pacific region.

Amit Kumar
Amit Kumar
Amit Kumar is a doctoral candidate at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, in Pilani, India. His area of specialization is China Studies. He worked as a Project Assistant at the Centre for African Justice, Peace, and Human Rights, in The Netherlands. In addition, he is an Adjunct Researcher at The MirYam Institute in New York. He also works for The Defence Horizon Journal in Austria as an Associate Editor. He tweets at @budpolitician


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