AUKUS: A US device to lock Australia into the anti-China coalition

Jul 15, 2023
AUKUS Nuclear submarine in the deep sea.

Around a week ago the Financial Review confirmed what many observers had taken for granted: the US offered nuclear propulsion technology to Australia under the AUKUS arrangements in order to lock it into the anti-China coalition.

Reporting on comments made at a public forum by White House strategic adviser Kurt Campbell, the article highlights his statement that ‘‘when submarines are provided from the United States to Australia, it’s not like they’re lost. They will just be deployed by the closest possible allied force.’’ Of course, the only logical explanation for the US willingness to provide the AUKUS nuclear submarine technology is that the submarines would be at the beck and call of the USN.

That’s the cold hard logic of hegemonic politics revealed. What is remarkable is the brazen fact that Campbell is so confident of Australia’s capitulation of sovereign control, and submission to American strategic policy, that he could openly admit the submarines will be effectively a unit in the USN without any expectation of pushback by the Australian government. That is, without embarrassment he could confess AUKUS was a trap to induce Australia onto the American side in its strategic completion with China.

AUKUS is not an act of American beneficence or of English-speaking peoples’ solidarity but brutal geopolitics.

James Curran’s AFR article suggests “No recent Australian government has formally signed on to Washington’s rubric of ‘‘strategic competition’’ with Beijing”. That’s fairly accurate given the Albanese government’s desperation to maintain the illusion of sovereign control over the AUKUS submarines for domestic political reasons. But, despite this, whatever the public announcements made by the government, behind closed doors the national security and defence officials in Australia unambiguously believe that Australia is, and should be, part of an alliance in strategic competition with China.

This is the only logical explanation for the government’s abandonment of defence of Australia for an exorbitantly expensive contribution to a potential American-led war that would not be in Australia’s interest and would be far from Australia’s shores.

Campbell is just stating the obvious.

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