“AUKUS” – Rhetoric to Reality

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The Indo-pacific region great powers politics witness another shift as the US, Britain, and Australia announced the creation of a new trilateral security partnership during a virtual event. In a joint statement, the three governments said the partnership, called “AUKUS,” will help “significantly deepen cooperation on a range of security and defense capabilities.” The first initiative under AUKUS will be delivering a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia and the three countries will spend as many as 18 months discussing how this capability will be delivered. The security and defense partnership between the three countries will also involve wide-ranging projects on cyber warfare, artificial intelligence and quantum computing, and is expected to counter China’s influence in global politics. In response, China denounces AUKUS pact and calls it “Cold War mentality.”

In the backdrop, China’s hit several Australian industries with economic sanctions, imposing hefty tariffs that also appear to be one the reasons of formation of this new alliance. France has reacted with fury, accused the US of stabbing it in the back as signed defence pact sidelines Paris in the Indo-Pacific region.  As part of the fresh deal, Australia is tearing up a submarine contract with France and will instead build nuclear-powered vessels with British and American help that technically leaves Paris out in the cold despite its efforts to position itself as a power in the Indo-Pacific.

While for the UK the alliance marks a return to a post- Brexit global Britain and it will have a new opportunity to reinforce its place at the leading edge of science and technology strengthening national expertise and perhaps most significantly the troika of UK-Australia and the US will be joined even more closely together.  Again to mention, for the UK this is a chance after the Brexit departure isolating itself from Europe gaining importance with a focus on the indo-pacific region.  In Broader spectrum, each of the three countries there are different motives for Australia there is the specific objective that its deal with France in the year 2016 for conventional powered submarines the cost had risen to 90 billion dollars there had been delays it did not appear it was going to get what it wanted this is now an alternative for nuclear-powered submarines that is an upgrade they have longer range they can stay in the water longer.  For the US it’s a sign in the aftermaths of Afghanistan misadventure to foster alternative alliances to further streamline its Beijing containment policy.  As far as are concerned- a hardening Washington’s line vis-a-vis China in the near future so in concrete terms what’s this cooperation going to look like how far does it extend will this be an eastern NATO in a way apparently seems subtle and skeptical at present as current leaps are specifically just an agreement about submarines not even submarines.  Pertinent to mention that, with nuclear weapons Australia cannot have those under the nonproliferation treaty it does have the potential to be more so for example it does permanent basing facilities in Australia for the boats the ships of other countries the UK and the US included do have other arrangements in the pacific for cooperation. The political pundits, experts also viewing it foreseeable Eastern NATO, nevertheless this rhetoric does not have any valid justification for two reasons. First, China is still Australia’s number one trading partner and Canberra will not want to provoke confrontation with Beijing by having a defense alliance across the entire region. Secondly to foster an Eastern NATO it would need other countries to have partnership and under current geopolitical dynamics the other states as South Korea, Japan the Philippines will not want to join that type of pact given their own dimensions of ties with China preferences. As far as a deterrent factor to China is concerned, it assessing its position right now and  it’s notable that apart from Chinese Embassy in the US  regarding cold war mentality, neither of the communist party’s leading media outlets not even mention the trilateral agreement as one part of its calculations because as much as talking  by western regimes about the defense alliance today  foremost push is for an alternative economic system the BRI and that alternative economic system is a different way of approaching global relations than simply saying let’s have some nuclear-powered submarines. Notwithstanding the AUKUS reality, its effectiveness will be defined by the trajectory of regional geopolitics that includes power postures of all the actors.

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