WORDS: 1,004 — I can’t help but wondering…. these kinds of international deals, treaties, agreements, etc. usually have many times years of planning, and when announced and implemented there is also a degree of timing to world events and/or diplomatic outcomes we don’t always know about. Sooo….
…I am far from any diplomatic professional nor is my normal news day as an armchair political wonk guided by any great experience in international relations. On the other hand… as Tom Selleck says.. “this isn’t my first rodeo”, as a common listener and watcher of world events for nearly 3/4 of a century. For those of you just tuning in, here’s a recap of the story at hand.
This last Thursday the governments of the U.S., Australia, and the UK entered into a long term security agreement (AUKUS) to assist Australia in building a number of nuclear powered submarines using U.S. and British technology and Australian construction, as well as addressing cyber threat security. All three nations’ leaders made the announcement without mentioning the elephant-in-the-room threat target, China. What was also emphasized more than once… these submarines would NOT be developed for use of nuclear weapons. In other words, these subs are only nuclear in being powered and having only conventional weapons systems but no nuclear missiles.
At first blush is would seem like a very prudent move as we all know China’s recent assertions in the South China Sea in putting up new bases on the Spratly Archipelago and making territorial claims… and an uptake in their on-going desire to assimilate Taiwan “back” into the China fold. Up to this point we send our Navy down there to maintain shipping lanes remain open, with support of Great Britain, and other countries. Obviously, long range submarines, even with conventional armament, can help offset China’s ambitions in the region. But…. there are many ramification facets to this agreement.
The first expected objection of course came from China. But of note here… is that Australia and China have for nearly 20 years been economic “buddies”, with Australia moderating it’s relationship with the U.S. so as not to ruffle their relationship with China. I encourage the reader to take in this article for more detail on that relationship… HERE. In a few recent years China and Australia have had some sour back-and-forth over rhetoric from the previous Prime Minister. So Australia was ready to make a security move.. and this agreement has rather made obvious their decision to align with The U.S. and less about China. Britain and China have little love lost over China’s outright ignoring the agreement in taking over Hong Kong in maintaining human rights and self-government.
In the meantime.. in the last day or so, France has expressed what is apparently a larger concern that the European countries were kept out of the loop and did not know of any of this until they hears it on TV. It seems France was under some idea that there was at least a level of intent for an agreement where France was going to build a number of conventional submarines for Australia… and now those billions of dollars and jobs are not part of France’s future. In fact, France is so incensed over this that they have recalled their ambassador from the U.S. Again.. for detail on this aspect go… HERE.
So What Exactly Is My Concern Here?
There’s the increasing international squabble brewing what Europe is finding as fault with Biden in not notifying traditional allies, and that he was the one trying to restore the damage that Trump did. Now.. to me it all seems relatively ‘easy” to assign this a failure in international relations by Biden, Johnson, and/or Morrison in not informing our friends. But I make the observation, does this make sense? The current defense being promoted by our State Department is that our European friends had been notified. Huh? There is always the extraordinary outside chance that this shortcoming in communicating this AUKUS planning is true… and someone screwed up. Or… America, the UK, and the Aussies had a strategic reason to NOT tell anyone, and just blurb it all out one day.
I dunno about any of that. Everyone involved in this agreement planning understands full well the art of international diplomacy. All these guys have joint communication channels all over the place as there is constantly inter-agency communication and on-going back-and-forth information sharing. Not to mention, such agreements usually have international chatter and likely one nation would really not be able to make a move without the other catching some sort of wind about it. Now.. obviously there can be “secret” agreements…. but this AUKUS thing was never announced as being a secret agreement, nor does it need to be. In fact, the public value of it carries the message to the world regarding China.
So, If It’s Not What It Seems To Be, Then What Is It All About?
I’m trying not to get all “Hollywood” here… but this just plain makes no sense not everyone knowing something. I can only speculate from the point of how I anticipate the next reactions might be. Europe/France is pissed.. they recall the French ambassador. Does that seem a tad over-reacting given at play was “only” 65 billion for the French economy? Did I just see the making of a good-cop/bad-cop thing brewing here between AUKUS and Europe? If so.. why? What’s that plan? In fact… could this be some strategy to meet Putin’s threat in the East? Might he suspect NATO has a kink in it’s armor? To what end would we want him to think that? Or is all this a grand charade aimed at China? Europe leans toward China… then what? Is this all a greater strategy that’s been the result of wide intel of China’s intentions that we the public do not know about? Also.. why now was this announced?
Strangely, I hope my speculation is true not because I like intrigue, but because I don’t want another American embarrassment. Time will tell.
On a separate note… you just gotta know (hope?) that the specifications for those nuclear subs will likely be designed for a quick conversion to the nastier weapons if necessary.