At a time when the world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party has become more coercive and disruptive. The Australia-India-Japan-United States security quadrilateral – known as the Quad – has resultingly assumed greater importance and relevance because it consists of the four countries in the Indo-Pacific who are the most forward-leaning and capable of challenging Beijing’s destabilising efforts.

Yet, India continues to formally eschew alliances and formal commitments, even as strategic, economic and intelligence cooperation between the other three members are as close as they have ever been. 

Given these dynamics, what ought we expect from the Quad? What successes should we expect from the Quad in countering undesirable Chinese assertiveness? What can and should Australia and the United States do — and expect of one another — in realising those successes?

To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted a webinar event featuring Lt General H.R. McMaster, Japan Chair at the Hudson Institute, Washington DC; Dr Charles Edel, Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre; Dr John Lee, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre, and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington DC; and Dr Lavina Lee, Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University and author of the recently published report, Assessing the Quad: Prospects and Limitations of Quadrilateral Cooperation for Advancing Australia’s Interests.

Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, U.S. Army (Ret.) is the inaugural holder of the Japan Chair at the Hudson Institute, Washington DC. He is also the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Lt. Gen. McMaster was the 26th assistant to the president for national security affairs. He served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army for thirty-four years before retiring as a lieutenant general in June 2018. Lt. Gen. McMaster is author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam and the forthcoming Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World. He holds a PhD in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr John Lee is an adjunct professor and non-resident senior fellow at the US Studies Centre. He is also a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. From 2016-2018, he was senior adviser to the Australian Foreign Minister, the lead ministerial adviser for the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, and her principal adviser on Indo-Pacific strategic affairs in the lead-up to the reinstitution of the Quad in 2017. 

Dr Lavina Lee is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is the author of the book US Hegemony and International Legitimacy: Norms Power and Followership in the Wars on Iraq(Routledge, 2010), and has published numerous articles, book chapters and commentary on Indian foreign and security policy, nuclear proliferation, US foreign policy, and security relations in the Indo-Pacific.

Dr Charles Edel is Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre. Previously, he was Associate Professor of Strategy and Policy at the US Naval War College, and served on the US Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff from 2015-2017. In that role, he advised Secretary of State John Kerry on political and security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. He is the co-author of The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order (2019) and author of Nation Builder: John Quincy Adams and the Grand Strategy of the Republic (2014).