Strategy of Denial: A Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific Region
In presenting his new book, Strategy of Denial, to Philippine audiences in a March 10 “virtual discussion,” author Elbridge Colby outlined his call for U.S. policy planners to adopt a more sharply focused strategic framework for dealing with a resurgent China. Colby reminded participants that the post-Cold War unipolar global structure has been eclipsed over the past 20 years by the rise of China, with its growing military force and power projection capabilities. Colby’s thesis is that to ensure peace and security, and protect America’s vital interests in the Indo-Pacific, Beijing should be denied opportunities to establish regional hegemony. While not advocating creation of a NATO-like defense alliance, the author underscored the importance of an “anti-hegemonic coalition” to preserve territorial and policy independence of countries along China’s periphery, including the Philippines.
The book presentation was hosted by the Stratbase ADR Institute in cooperation with the US-Philippines Society. Program participants, including Stratbase President Victor Andres Manhit and Professor Renato Cruz de Castro, drew on their own policy research and writing to reflect shared concerns over China in the decade ahead, and their support for effective anti-hegemonic partnerships.
US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson credited Colby for bringing discussion of key strategic issues to policy thinkers in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Hendrickson cited two factors that made the book and the timing of the discussion so relevant to current developments. First, the robust reaction by Europeans and NATO to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated the essential value of alliances and partnerships acting collectively in response to the use of force against a neighbor, responses that invite comparisons to the threat of invasion elsewhere and are surely being gauged carefully now in Beijing.
The second factor is that the March 10 discussion of defense strategies came in the midst of the Philippines’ election campaign and might help trigger added thought and debate among voters and candidates alike about foreign policy options of central importance for the next administration. A presidential election campaign provides a clear, ripe opportunity for candidates to lay out the kind of strategic vision that Colby advocates.
The Society extends appreciation to Elbridge Colby, Stratbase, program participants, and members who made the program possible.