The spectacular demise of the French submarine deal with the Australians is unlikely to be the only or even the most significant side effect of the AUKUS alliance.
First, there’s this acronym – AUKUS. I certainly hope more thought went into the substance of this alliance than into its name. The name implies exclusivity. It is a club consisting of the UK and its two former colonies. Would Canada and New Zealand be allowed to join? But they already have AUSCANNZUKUS. They need to hire a brand design consultant because this is getting ridiculous.
The French are pissed, and rightly so. Not because the submarine deal fell through – the contract’s shaky status has been un secret de Polichinelle for a couple of years now – but because France (and the rest of the EU) were kept out of the loop. Not just that – they were actively lied to.
This was no accident, not a personal call made by some government official, not an oversight by some diplomat. This was a deliberate and well-planned effort to bamboozle France. To quote Frank Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “This is America: you’re either a duper or a dupee. I’m a duper. You guys are the dupees.”
But enough about France’s butthurt – it’ll get over this treachery eventually. The far more important outcome of AUKUS is the inevitable decline of NATO that it implies. Now that there is the new NATO-AUKUS and NATO Jr. – an exclusive club and a foyer for everyone else – I can’t imagine Russia and China not trying their best to widen this rift.
Moscow might be particularly pleased. At the moment, it couldn’t care less about the new Australian subs that may or may not materialize sometime in the distant future (American military tech comes with price tags that only Americans can afford). They’re going to be primarily China’s problem, and China can handle this. Russia’s focus is in Europe, where NATO has just been severely downgraded in status and relegated to the role of a surrogate.
America’s attention and money will be poured into AUKUS, while NATO will undoubtedly carry on with such tasks of global vitality as conducting drills in Estonia.
But to end this rant on a more serious note, there can be no doubt that if and when the Aussies finally have their subs, they will deploy American nukes. Canberra’s promise to stick with the non-proliferation agreements is not worth a brass razoo. Russia and China know this and already foresee a nuclear arms race in Asia-Pacific.