MARK ALMOND: Torpedoes run for Beijing tyrants
Those who persist in believing that Brexit means Britain turning in on itself got a rude awakening when Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a defense partnership.
It gives flesh to the bones of a global role for Britain, a vital new alliance with our traditional English-speaking partners to meet the challenge of China and defend our interests and democratic values in the vast and growing region of Asia. Pacific, now key to the global economy.
But providing Australia with at least eight nuclear-powered submarines to protect its coasts and trade from the threat of emerging Chinese naval power is much more than cooperation between the three nations.
In recent years, Australians have been targeted by bullies in Beijing as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) expands its powerful blend of military might and economic influence in the southern hemisphere.
Those who persist in believing Brexit means Britain turning in on itself got a rude awakening when Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a defense partnership
The tactics involved severe trade sanctions against Australian imports.
And Australians living in China have been arrested on dubious charges, in fact being held hostage.
But Australians – as anyone who plays cricket or rugby against them knows – don’t get easily intimidated. Reverse is not the way it is done underneath.
While relentlessly denouncing China’s transgressions on the world stage, Canberra has strengthened its own defense forces.
And now he’s upped the ante by uniting with two other classic naval powers in this NATO-style Pacific alliance.
In Europe, we have become accustomed to the security and stability that NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization covering Britain, 27 European nations, the United States and Canada – has provided.
AUKUS – as the link between Australia, UK and US has been called – could do the same on the other side of the globe.
And it is also a major signal for Washington’s future strategy.
Providing Australia with at least eight nuclear-powered submarines to protect its coasts and trade from the threat of emerging Chinese naval power is much more than three-nation cooperation.
Any European allies hoping that “Sleepy Joe” Biden would let NATO members continue in a state of unperturbed appeasement and trust in America’s superpower status will be more than a little alarmed.
Through AUKUS, President Biden is adding bite to what has been dubbed the “pivot to Asia” – America’s military, diplomatic and economic rebalancing towards the Pacific, first described under Barack Obama’s administration.
However, not everyone in the Anglosphere welcomed this week’s developments. Every Western ‘awakened’ heroine, New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern, who had previously banned US nuclear-powered warships from her country, said Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines would also be undesirable.
But there is a ruthless trade streak at Miss Ardern, as trade has taken precedence over human rights in policy making. Poaching of former Australian agricultural export markets in China has been a key part of his policy towards Beijing.
Some have even suggested renaming his country New XiLand in honor of their relationship.
In recent years, Australians have been the target of Beijing tyrants as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) expands its potent blend of military might and economic influence in the southern hemisphere.
China, too, is not very happy because the CCP hopes to divide Western democracies. Meanwhile, AUKUS sees post-Brexit Britain resuming its traditional ‘blue water’ role globally through naval contributions.
Our army had only operated on the European continent when dictators – Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin – threatened to control it and use it as a base to attack our islands.
Now, as NATO holds Russia at arm’s length in Eastern Europe, a Pacific version could secure peace in the Asia-Pacific region, placing it at the heart of the future of global prosperity.
But Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and his Whitehall mandarins have decisions to make if we are to hold our place in this alliance.
While it will be well into the 2030s for the new submarine and destroyer program to be completed, the Royal Australian Navy will have more nuclear submarines and Type 26 destroyers on patrol than the Royal Navy.
Yes, we have two powerful aircraft carriers, but we don’t have enough coastal patrol vessels to even protect our coastline on a daily basis or the frigates and destroyers needed to protect the British Merchant Navy in a crisis.
Australia is leading where we should be following. France is of course furious at the cancellation of its agreement with Australia for the delivery of 12 new diesel-powered submarines.
But perhaps President Emmanuel Macron could take this opportunity to turn a long-held French dream of leading a European army into reality.
Neither the Americans nor the British will abandon their commitment to European security, but it would make sense for France, the only EU country with nuclear weapons, to act as NATO leader European.
Mark Almond is director of the Crisis Research Institute, Oxford