Australia has just signed an agreement with the United Kingdom and the United States for the the U.K. and U.S. to provide resources and know-how for Australia to build 8 nuclear powered attack submarines. Named AUKUS, the deal means 8 nuclear powered submarines ( but currently without the nuclear weaponry), are to be built in Adelaide over the next few years using British and American technology.
This is indeed a nuclear triad based on racism., arrogance and stupidity.
While there is no mention of China in the three ‘white’ anglo-saxon allies’ press releases on the agreement; the message is clear, these very expensive submarines are not designed for coastal defence, as the now defunct diesel submarine contracted with France were going to be; these are submarines designed to stay unseen far away from Australia coastlines – and also be completely reliant on nuclear fuel from either the U.K. or the U.S.
While Australian prime minister Scott Morrison is not, as we say in New Zealand, the sharpest knife in the box , the move is a calculated one by the Australians.
Some commentators on the new AUKUS agreement have argued that Australia has been blackmailed by the U.S. into signing up for these incredibly costly, wasteful and provocative armaments; ( the U.S. ‘you are either with us or against us’ argument), and there is no doubt some truth in that.
For the short-term, the Australian’s calculations that the U.S. will remain the most powerful domineering and ruthless military on the planet is likely to hold; but for how much longer?
However in the short to medium term, Australia is also likely to lose even more of its China trade than before as a result of this deal and other China provocations ‘astutely’ managed by Scott Morrison and his team!.
Combine that with the extensive economic COVID 19 impacts in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, and the strong likelihood that devastating forest fires and heat are going to increasingly grip much of Australia in a vice; the future for Australia does not look good.
As Joseph Camilleri notes: The greatest loser in all of this is Australia. It has saddled itself with a vast military project of unknown cost and duration and dubious effectiveness. It will contribute to an ever-increasing defence budget that will divert scarce resources from urgent social and economic priorities.
Reliance on the United States for one’s salvation is certainly not the best and smartest option, as the French have now found, having been pushed out of the Australian submarine contract by the U.S., despite being America’s strongest ‘European ally’.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s repeated rationale for U.S hostile policies to China about China’s ‘aggression’ and ‘economic coercion’, pail in comparison to the United States’ 200 years of wars for economic gain and its brutal use of its control over the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to ensure third world countries requiring loans were subject to extreme conditions that often destroyed their economies and the lives of their poorest populations.
But predominantly this is the work of ‘cunning persuasion” by the U.K. and U.S.. By using Australians well known and documented racism to non-white countries and refugees, Scott Morrison has been conned into thinking that he is protecting Australia from the ‘Yellow Peril’ hordes supposedly about to sweep down on Australia from the Asian steppes any day now.
We have seen this many many times before- the setting up by major powers of foreign bogey-men for gullible smaller nations to support. Whether it was the Chinese supposedly attempting to invade the rest of Asia via their North Korean allies in the early 1950s, or the Vietnam War . Australian officials in 1966 were noting “the determination of Communist China to establish hegemony throughout South-East Asia working in the first place through the agency of her North Vietnamese puppets.”
By being in the front line in the South China Sea when the U.S. Japan and the U.K launch more provocations to ‘protect Asian maritime routes’ (noting that 22% of all marine traffic in the South China seas actually originates from Chinese ports)
Australia is being set up as the fall guy by its ‘allies”. This is most certainly therefore, not an exercise in protecting shipping lanes or ‘free democratic institutions from the scourge of communism, this is an exercise in threat. Understand China that America is the ‘exceptional nation’ who rules the world, or face blockades of your trade routes by our ‘allies’.
In turn, as the Guardian notes, BoJo in the U.K. has been set up by the Americans to finally exhaust its colonial resources in a last-gasp farcical “Global Britain” approach, by running sitting-duck aircraft carriers through the South China Sea, in a re-run of British gun-boat diplomacy of the 19th Century when Britain really did rule the waves and could forcibly coerce the Chinese into accepting opium, and ceding ports like Hong Kong for the drug trade into China
While New Zealand (4000 kms to the east of Australia) is not (and could not afford to be ) a member of the select AUKUS group ( the new acronym would be appalling) because of its longstanding anti-nuclear policy, its prime minister Jacinda Adern has in a public statement, welcomed the agreement and commented on the importance of maintaining the ‘international ruled based order’. It is important to note that the ‘rule based order’ she mentions is not the International agreement processes of the United Nations, it is code for ‘whatever the U.S. decides, is what everyone must obey, regardless of international law’. And there was not one word from New Zealand about the AUKUS decision severely impacting New Zealand’s vision of a nuclear-free Pacific. Hence, while New Zealand is not a party to the AUKUS agreement, it is actively supporting these new threats to China.
It would be advisable for New Zealand to distance itself from these extraordinarily inept and unnecessary provocations, and to show it truly can provide leadership in a post-colonial world as a small nation.
Indonesia, which borders Australian territory south of Papua New Guinea, is now sending warning signals about the implications of the Australian nuclear submarine sales to its security and there are clear indications of a potenital arms race in the region
France too has now called in its ambassadors to the the U.S. and Australia following the breaking of its contract for diesel submarines by Australia at the behest of the United States. Potentially this could lead to a much stronger impetus for the development of the often called for ‘European Army’.