Brian Harding joined the U.S. Institute of Peace in May 2020 as a senior expert on Southeast Asia. He comes to USIP with more than 15 years of experience in Southeast Asian affairs in government, think tanks, and the private sector.

Prior to joining USIP, Harding was deputy director of the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he managed a range of projects focused on Southeast Asia’s political economy and U.S.-Southeast Asia relations.

Previously, he was director for East and Southeast Asia policy at the Center for American Progress, where he led an expansion of the their work on Southeast Asia and Japan.

From 2009 to 2013, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon as country director for Asian and Pacific security affairs. There, he managed defense relations with major U.S. partners in Southeast Asia and Oceania and played an instrumental role in several high-profile defense policy initiatives, including agreements to station U.S. Marines in Darwin, Australia, and littoral combat ships in Singapore.

In the private sector, Harding has advised many of the world’s most prominent companies and financial institutions on political risk and leadership dynamics in Southeast Asia, including in roles at Eurasia Group and Monitor 360.

Harding holds degrees from Middlebury College and The George Washington University and has studied at universities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and Kyoto, Japan. In Southeast Asia, he has also been a Fulbright research fellow in Indonesia and taught English in Nong Khai, Thailand.

Publications By Brian

Amid Ukraine War, U.S. Signals the Indo-Pacific is a Vital Priority

Amid Ukraine War, U.S. Signals the Indo-Pacific is a Vital Priority

Thursday, June 9, 2022

By: Mirna Galic;  Brian Harding;  Tamanna Salikuddin;  Vikram J. Singh

While the Ukraine war continues to dominate policymakers’ attention, the Biden administration has engaged in a series of diplomatic initiatives with allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific region over the course of the last two months. The message is clear: Washington sees the Indo-Pacific as the world’s principal geostrategic region, with a host of challenges to meet — like competition with China and climate change — and opportunities to seize, particularly related to technology and the economy.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EconomicsGlobal Policy

What Is Indigenous Foreign Policy? Lessons from Australia and New Zealand

What Is Indigenous Foreign Policy? Lessons from Australia and New Zealand

Thursday, May 26, 2022

By: Nicole Cochran;  Brian Harding

In early May, the Solomon Islands — the second largest recipient of Australian aid — signed a security agreement with China, raising concerns about the potential for the creation of a Chinese military base a short distance from Australia’s shores. Coming mere weeks before Australian elections, this announcement was widely seen by Australians as a failure of their foreign policy and helped turn national security into a high priority for the elections.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyMediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Brian Harding on the U.S.-ASEAN Summit

Brian Harding on the U.S.-ASEAN Summit

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

By: Brian Harding

Ahead of this week’s U.S.-ASEAN summit, USIP’s Brian Harding says the Biden administration is “kicking off a really intense period of diplomatic engagement with Asia” with plans to draw a contrast with China and seek cooperation on issues such as climate change and supply chains.

Type: Podcast

Global Policy

New U.S. Plan is an Opportunity to Deepen Engagement with Papua New Guinea

New U.S. Plan is an Opportunity to Deepen Engagement with Papua New Guinea

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

By: Brian Harding;  Nicole Cochran

In terms of geographical size and population, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is by far the biggest country among the Pacific Islands, a region increasingly central to U.S. strategic interests. Along with neighboring Solomon Islands, PNG is at the center of a growing geopolitical contest involving the United States and its allies and China. PNG has also long been wracked by domestic instability, which has depressed equitable economic growth and limited the country’s ability to play its natural role as regional leader and a bridge between the Pacific Islands region and East Asia. Despite PNG’s potential importance, the United States has a light political footprint in the country, particularly when compared to Australia, making PNG’s designation as a focus country under the Global Fragility Action (GFA) an opportunity to dramatically scale up engagement.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & Resilience

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