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

Brian Harding on the First U.S.-Pacific Islands Summit

Brian Harding on the First U.S.-Pacific Islands Summit

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

By: Brian Harding

As President Biden hosts a first-ever U.S. summit with Pacific Island countries, USIP’s Brian Harding says regional leaders “have some concerns” about growing U.S.-China competition — but they would rather “talk about their own interests and needs … If you ask them, their top priority by far is climate change.”

Type: Podcast

Global Policy

Why is Biden Hosting the First U.S-Pacific Islands Summit Now?

Why is Biden Hosting the First U.S-Pacific Islands Summit Now?

Monday, September 26, 2022

By: Brian Harding;  Camilla Pohle-Anderson

President Joe Biden will host leaders of Pacific Island countries for a summit at the White House from September 28-29, the latest U.S. effort to strengthen ties with a region that is increasingly the focus of competition between China and the United States and its partners. While China is a major force behind the United States’ effort to reengage with the Pacific Islands, strategic competition has also reawakened Washington to its fundamental interests in the region, which have existed for many decades, and long predate the current era of U.S.-China rivalry.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Bangsamoro Peace and the U.S.-Philippines Alliance

Bangsamoro Peace and the U.S.-Philippines Alliance

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

By: Brian Harding;  Haroro J. Ingram

The election in May of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the 17th president of the Philippines presents an opportunity to reset U.S.-Philippines relations after six rocky years while President Rodrigo Duterte held the office. After Marcos’s sweeping election victory, President Biden called to congratulate him and then dispatched a series of U.S. officials to Manila, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Any concerns that the Marcos family’s corruption and lingering legal issues in the United States would hold up relations have been pushed aside due to the enormous interests the United States has in a functioning U.S.-Philippines alliance.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyPeace Processes

Solomon Islands: Election Delay Would Threaten Peace and Democracy

Solomon Islands: Election Delay Would Threaten Peace and Democracy

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

By: Brian Harding;  Camilla Pohle-Anderson

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is attempting to delay the 2023 elections — which would normally take place between May and August — to 2024, causing concerns among civil society and regional partners regarding the country’s growing autocracy and ties to China. Delaying the vote is broadly unpopular and could spark protests. Some Solomon Islanders fear that Sogavare may use Chinese security forces to crack down on protesters, which would fuel further instability. Postponing the election may also set a dangerous precedent for the future, allowing Sogavare to further solidify his power.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceGlobal Policy

The Next Five Years Are Crucial for Bougainville’s Independence Bid

The Next Five Years Are Crucial for Bougainville’s Independence Bid

Friday, August 12, 2022

By: Brian Harding;  Camilla Pohle-Anderson

Now that Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has been reelected, the stage is set for him to settle what he has called the biggest issue facing the country — the future political status of Bougainville, an autonomous region seeking independence by 2027. Papua New Guinea is unlikely to let it secede, but Bougainville is unlikely to settle for anything less than full independence, and positive relations between the two governments will be of paramount importance in the coming years. Meanwhile, intensifying U.S.-China competition in the South Pacific creates wider implications for Bougainville’s potential independence.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyPeace Processes

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