The minilateral partnership between Australia, the U.K. and the United States, or AUKUS, has garnered much attention of late. We already know China will paint it as a Washington-led alliance aimed at containing China based on outdated Cold War thinking.

These perfunctory criticisms should not stop these partners from advancing this consequential and innovative partnership. Still, AUKUS members will have to work hard in Southeast Asia to counter this narrative to secure direct or indirect support there.

To be clear, AUKUS is not a military alliance. It is not the beginning of an Asian or Indo-Pacific NATO. Essentially, it consists of three main components, or "pillars," aimed at different objectives.