The big minds designing Indo-Pacific security policy have decided that “minilateralism” — collaborative efforts by three to five countries — is the route to regional peace and stability.

Several minilateral mechanisms have been created in recent years. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue ("the Quad") and the Australia-U.K.-U.S. enhanced security partnership (AUKUS) are the most prominent, but others are contributing too.

These initiatives and their logic make sense, but they remain tentative steps toward a more substantive regional security order. More troubling is a contradiction inherent in Indo-Pacific minilateralism: the need to produce hard security — to deter and defend against potential adversaries — scares off governments that might otherwise be enticed into joining these coalitions.