By Anna Nguyen,
The world is in constant transition, never stands still. New alliances and conflicts rise every day and therefore each country’s interests change and adapt to the new data. Nonetheless, adaptability is a necessary characteristic for every living organism to survive in a continuously changing environment.
With that being said, an interesting alliance that was created recently is the trilateral one between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The three countries agreed on cooperating to build nuclear-driven submarines and to work closely in the Indo-Pacific region. The agreement between the three nations was announced in a joint press conference by the three leaders and caught the whole world by surprise and especially China and France.
One that is not well-aware of the region and the alliances and agreements that have been made throughout the years, would be questioning why France, which is a country very far away, was frustrated that the aforementioned agreement was made. To answer this question, we have to mention the deal that Australia made with France back in 2016 to obtain 12 diesel-electric-powered submarines. It is logical now that with the new deal the Australians must drop the bilateral deal with the French, which therefore means an economic loss for the latter. Furthermore, Australia’s resignment from the deal left the French administration with disappointment with the French Ambassador in the United States stating that the decision to “exclude” them from the Agreement “shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret”. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs called it “a stab in the back”. It is widely understood that the European country is deeply frustrated by the new alliance.
Another country that is concerned about the new Alliance in China, which saw its power being threatened by the influence that the United States and the United Kingdom will have from now on. China has become the big regional power in the Indo-Pacific area and having other powerful countries in the same space threatens the status and influence that it has there. The United States and China’s relations have not been at their best in the last years and this initiative has proved to the Chinese once again that the American country wants to have a say in the region. This “Cold War mentality”, as stated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington, may intensify the tensions in the area rather than bring stability. China is on the edge of its seat as the three countries may have not said it directly but this pact is made to deter China’s rising in the area.
One thing that must be seen is the reason why Australia changed its mind and decided to abandon the French deal and go with the other countries. One basic reason is that due to technological evolution, the electric submarines that were going to be provided by the French are outdated in terms of the Chinese significant power in the region. Thus, new models that would be more effective were needed. And that’s when the US decided to share its know-how about nuclear with Australia. It is noteworthy, that the US has never done this before and thus, underlines the cruciality of this Agreement and how much President Biden wants to gain power in the Indo-Pacific region. The submarines will be based in Australia and will give the US the ability to project its power and influence whenever needed. By obtaining nuclear-powered submarines it does not necessarily mean that the Australians want to gain nuclear weapons, which they have a clear statement about. Besides the submarines’ creation, other parts are also included in the Agreement. More specifically, as it is a defense alliance, other know-hows will also be exchanged, such as but not limited to Artificial Intelligence and quantum technologies.
The Agreement is still new and has not been in effect yet. Nonetheless, it is a long-term plan that has shaken the world. The submarines though are not to be stationed and used probably until 2035. This turn came sometime after the decision of the US to leave Afghanistan which can make one think that probably the Biden Administration now looks more into East Asia. However, this is another example that the US is seeking to regain its power and influence and become again the one global power by deterring other regional actors. It is highly unlikely to happen, in my personal opinion but the world is consistently shifting, so one would wait and see how this agreement will evolve.
- Aukus: The UK, US, and Australia launch pact to counter China, BBC News, Available here
- The New ‘Three Amigos’ AUKUS Alliance Sets the Stage for a Pacific NATO, The Forbes, Available here
- Cold War Echoes as AUKUS Alliance Focuses on China Deterrence, The Guardian, Available here
- What is the AUKUS Alliance and What Are Its Implications?, The Guardian, Available here