chapter  4
The Trilateral Strategic Dialogue’s institutional politics
Pages 14

The Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) represents, at the institutional level, the most sustained attempt yet to operationalize the concept of ‘expansive bilateralism’, an idea with considerable intuitive appeal but which has largely remained in the realm of ideas until now.1 That the TSD process came together in 2002, met regularly at the officials’ level thereafter, and reached the ministerial level in 2006 is due to the remarkable confluence of events and interests at the international and institutional levels. More specifically, international events interacted with, and to some extent drove, the evolution of institutional structures and politics in the United States, Japan and Australia, resulting in a strong convergence of interests among the three countries to begin and sustain the TSD process. The argument in this chapter is that the momentum and direction of the TSD process has until now been, and will continue to be, driven primarily by confluences of international and institutional developments affecting its three participating countries. At the political-bureaucratic level, the evolution of the TSD process faces a combination of short-term limits and long-term drivers.