Sameer Lalwani contributed a chapter to an April 2019 report from the German Marshall Fund US, Mind the Gap: National Views of The Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
When the eighth iteration of the Young Strategists Forum (YSF) took place in January 2018, the concept of the “free and open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) was uppermost in the mind of virtually every policymaker, diplomat, and official in Tokyo. At the same time, the term was then still little more than a catchphrase, a geographical framing originally articulated by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016 that had taken root in the U.S. policy lexicon after it was adopted by the administration of President Donald Trump, during a speech by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in October 2017.
As in previous years, the eighth YSF began with a seminar and discussion of the security dynamics in Asia, with a particular focus on the U.S.-Chinese relationship. This was followed by a grand strategy simulation exercise in which participants were divided into country teams and asked to specify a set of national objectives and to devise a strategy for attaining them over a 20-year time period. The teams were then asked to make decisions allocating resources across military, economic, and diplomatic policy tools, and to respond to a sequence of complex regional crises. The key lesson from the exercise was that, in an era of intensifying strategic competition with China and a perceived relative decline in U.S. power, the United States needed to be prepared to seize the initiative if it is to achieve its long-term objectives. Participants observed that, instead of simply managing crises and attempting to restore the status quo as quickly as possible, Washington needed to exploit the opportunities provided by crises to solidify its alliances and win support from other potential partners.
Read the chapter “Reluctant Link? India, the Quad, and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and download the full report.