UCL Institute of the Americas


Alin Barbantan

Free-Riding in the Far East: the impact of burden-sharing on US hegemony


Dr Tony McCulloch and Professor Iwan Morgan

My research is on the topic of free-riding within US alliances, with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific. Free-riding and burden sharing have been prevalent topics in the study of the NATO alliance, however, a short study of America’s alliances in the Asia-Pacific will bring to light the fact that many Asian allies of the US have been similarly labeled “free-riders” and also have been accused of not “doing their part” in the regional security framework. 

Considering these similarities, my thesis aims to see if free-riding does actually occur in the post-Cold War Asia-Pacific by focusing on three case studies: Japan, South Korea, and Australia. How these countries, members of the San Francisco “Hub and Spokes” system, interact with the US can give proper insight into the broader question the research aims to address: if there is “free-riding” in Asia, does the act itself compromise US hegemony, or does it provide an alliance with unforeseen positives?"