American interests are advanced by bridging the world’s free and open spaces, thereby preventing authoritarian regimes from dividing the world into hard spheres of control. In the face of a bellicose China, a destabilizing Iran, and a marauding Russia, American interests call for holding firm on free and open Indo-Pacific and transatlantic communities, normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab nations; and using these partnerships to connect with free and open spaces throughout the greater Atlantic region, the Mediterranean, and North and East Africa.
This can best be achieved, not with military force or blank checks of foreign aid, but with active diplomacy, encouraging foreign direct investment and security cooperation on key strategic projects, and building stronger bridges between the transatlantic community, Eurasia, and the Indo-Pacific. Energy, digital, and transportation ties should be the focus of that bridge-building.
This initiative can start with existing initiatives that are already focused on preserving free and open spaces.
From the East
The Quad. In the Indo-Pacific, the Quad—India, Japan, Australia, and the United States—provides an overarching mechanism for promoting a free and open Pacific. This partnership has already borne fruit, including better coordination for engaging Pacific Island nations and constructively engaging in development in the Indian Ocean region.
The Quad Plus. This second set of relationships allows other partners to flow in and partner where it makes sense on common projects and initiatives, including Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, and others. One example is the joint cooperation of Indo-Pacific nations in responding to the COVID pandemic.
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The Middle Corridor. This initiative is establishing a corridor linking Central Asian nations (like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) and Caucuses nations (such as Azerbaijan and Georgia) to the West. This project can produce resilient, additive supply chains, energy and material resources, and digital connectivity, initiatives developed by the nations themselves outside the oppressive influence of China, Iran, and Russia.
The Abraham Accords. Normalizing relations between Israel and Arab nations creates opportunities for security, diplomatic, and economic cooperation that will serve as a firebreak against Iran and create a secure, prosperous region that contributes to stability in North and East Africa and safeguards the crucial links between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean.
Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute
President, Free & Open Indo-Pacific Forum