The Big Four AllianceThe Big Four Alliance
Over the past six months, the Bush administration has upgraded its budding "strategic partnerships" with India and Japan. Along with the steady "special relationship" with Great Britain, what is beginning to emerge is a global coalition system--it is too soon to call it a true alliance--for the post-Cold War world. Much work remains to be done to translate the expressions of similar political interests and values into usable military strength. Still, the prospects for expanding the number of genuine "stakeholders" in the Pax Americana are quite bright. It is built around four great powers--the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and India--who share four basic strategic principles--that the dangers of radicalism, failing despotic governments, and nuclear proliferation in the greater Middle East are too great to ignore; that the growing military strength and political ambitions of Beijing's autocrats make it far from certain that China's rise will be a peaceful one; that the spread of representative forms of government will increase the prospects for a durable peace; and that military force remains a useful and legitimate tool of national statecraft. It is no accident that the four pillars of this emerging alliance stand in roughly similar geostrategic position relative to the Eurasian landmass. In the nomenclature of international relations theorists, the United States, Britain, Japan, and India fit the traditional profile of offshore balancers --powers apart from, but with vital interests in, Eurasia. In India's case, the Himalayas ranges give, albeit less perfectly, the separation that the English Channel, the Sea of Japan, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have given to others, but the basic relationships are the same.