Australia has become a popular partner in Asia’s Game of Thrones. Both China and the United States have courted it in the past few months, with varying success. China has highlighted its own economic importance as a major trade partner, while the U.S. has strengthened military cooperation both in Afghanistan and at new American bases in Australia.Now NATO (remember, it’s the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) wants to get in on the dance. As the Atlantic Council’s NATOSource blog reports, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen will travel far from NATO’s traditional arena, all the way to Australia, next week to discuss the role of Australia’s 1,300 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. (Rasmussen’s press release announcing the trip can be found here). NATO’s involvement in the Pacific goes beyond Australia, too. In Brussels, New Zealand recently signed an agreement of partnership that improves cooperation on terror prevention, military training, and intelligence, among other things.It goes without saying that Australia (and to a lesser extent New Zealand) will play a major role in the Game of Thrones currently unfolding in Asia and the Pacific. But NATO’s presence is an intriguing development. Australia’s economy relies in no small part upon trade with China, but the benefits of strong ties with NATO are attractive. Rasmussen’s visit suggests that the partnership is growing to be about something more than just tactical collaboration in Afghanistan.We aren’t expecting any moves to enlarge NATO to include countries in the South Pacific, but an increased NATO interest in Asia makes sense. Many European countries worry that China and India don’t pay them much attention. At the moment, the EU is too absorbed in its internal problems to have much impact or wield much clout in Asia; NATO is militarily engaged in Central Asia and diplomatic and mil-mil ties in the rest of Asia also make sense.From a US point of view, the interoperability of US and NATO forces, imperfect as it may be, is an important achievement. The US may not be trying to build a NATO style alliance in Asia, but using some of the lessons learned and best practices developed by decades of intensive mil-mil alliance cooperation to help members of the emerging Asian entent work more closely together makes sense.So far, the reaction from China has been muted. That might change, and as Via Meadia commented recently, look for quiet Chinese retaliation—not necessarily in the military arena, but with diplomatic and economic tools.