In March 2022, the NCAFP convened a series of Track II meetings with participants from India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. to discuss the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, resulting in these key takeaways and policy recommendations:
- The Quad is tentatively finding its optimal role, purpose and ambition. It has successfully outlined an affirmative agenda that is more attractive to the region than one emphasizing its members’ opposition to China. The emergence of other minilateral groupings specific to counterbalancing China’s growing military power takes pressure off the Quad to be everything for everyone.
- The Quad mostly exists to shape the peacetime environment in the Indo-Pacific, and is not yet ready to tackle contingencies. Responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows gaps in alignment among the Quad members, and it remains too early to know if the crisis in Europe will accelerate alignment before a regional stress test occurs.
- Flexibility is a strength of the Quad, but deliverables are its yardstick. The first cannot come at the expense of the second, leaving open questions about how and when to institutionalize the mechanism.
- The Quad should “consolidate its reasonableness” or cement its affirmative and constructive purpose if it wants to have a measurable impact in the region’s trajectory. This includes refining its branding, keeping a tight scope on its agenda, improving its process to deliver public goods, and finding anchoring principles for its members’ trade policies.
For more detail on the conversations that produced these conclusions, please click here to read the conference report, "Fit for Purpose: Assessing the Quad"