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Opinion
Hal Brands

An Asian NATO? The U.S. Has Better Options for Its Allies

A smarter move by Washington would be to tighten individual ties with nations facing China’s hegemony.

Keeping India safe.

Keeping India safe.

Photographer: Tuuseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images

The question that may decide the future of the Indo-Pacific region, and of the U.S.-China rivalry, is this: Will Beijing succeed in picking apart the loose coalition of countries opposing its hegemonic aspirations, or will Washington succeed in knitting that coalition more tightly together?

Recent talk of forming an “Asian NATO” indicates that the matter may still be resolved in America’s favor. To be clear, a full-fledged, multilateral military alliance in Asia isn’t needed and won’t materialize anytime soon. But the countries seeking to counter Beijing’s rise may see an opportunity to weave a denser web of multilateral cooperation, a web in which an aggressive China will find itself increasingly ensnared.