The alliance ratchets up the possibility of conflict in the western Pacific with China where there are already a number of sources of tension

Lindsey German

The deal to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines brokered with the US and Britain has sent shock waves across the world.

There was no mention of China when the deal was announced, and Boris Johnson told MPs that it was “not intended to be adversarial” towards China. But few will believe this – certainly not the Chinese government which has described it as the product of a “cold war mentality.”

That is exactly what it is. Aukus, as it is known, is a major new military alliance which draws Australia in as a much closer ally of the US and a key force in the region.

The aim is to challenge China’s navy – something which led to ditching an Australian-French agreement for conventional submarines in favour of nuclear which have greater capabilities. Australia’s navy and air force are also buying Tomahawk cruise missiles.

This will tie Australia into close alliance with the US for a generation and will raise questions about further nuclear proliferation. It also ratchets up the possibility of conflict in the western Pacific with China where there are already a number of sources of tension which could spill over into hotter war.

While Western media and governments paint China as the aggressor in this situation, the policies of recent US presidents tell a different story. Joe Biden has continued Donald Trump’s policies of confrontation, sanctions and military rivalry.

The alliance comes at a very dangerous time. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan last month and the fall of Kabul marked a major defeat for imperialism and one that marks the end of the war on terror and its policy of regime change under the guise of “humanitarian intervention.”

Those of us in the anti-war movement argued then that this would not, however, mean the end of wars and conflict, but a strategic shift.

What is the British government’s role in all this? Afghanistan made it clear in a brutal way that there is no “special relationship” with the US and that Britain has no independent role militarily.

This deal being made public now must be seen at least in part as an attempt by Boris Johnson to claim relevance for “global Britain.” In reality the only such relevance is for Britain to play a more belligerent role.

Harold Wilson back in the ’60s pulled British troops from “east of Suez,” in recognition of the fading role of the country and its empire. Johnson is once more claiming a military role in the Far East.

Already he has staged a provocative maiden voyage for the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth in the region. This alliance is a further provocation against China which is reckless and costly.

New Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is reputed to be a “China hawk.” Expect more such behaviour from a British government whose incompetence and corruption is matched by its jingoism and flag waving.

Former prime minister Theresa May asked Johnson in Parliament whether the Aukus alliance would commit Britain to intervening if there were conflict between China and Taiwan. This is a crucial question to which Johnson had no answer – but which raises the prospect of major conflict where the people of Britain, the US, Australia and China will all be the losers.

We have to oppose this deal and our increasingly warmongering government.

18 Sep 2021 by Lindsey German

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