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The Warring Peace: The AUKUS Submarine Announcement

History is filled with failed planners and plans, threats thought of that did not eventuate, and threats unthought of that found their way into the books. The AUKUS agreement is an attempt to inflate a threat by developing a number of fictional capabilities in an effort to combat an inflated adversary.

The checklist of imminent failure for this security pact between the United States, the UK and Australia is impressive and comically grotesque. In terms of the nuclear-powered submarine component, there are issues of expertise, infrastructure, hurdles of technology transfer, the hobbling feature of domestic politics, and national considerations. There are also matters of irresponsible costs, of the exhaustion of public money best spent elsewhere.

To put it bluntly, Australia and all its resources spanning across a number of industries will be co-opted in this enterprise against a phantom enemy, subjugating an already subordinate state to the US war-making enterprise.

All of this was laid bare at San Diego’s Point Loma Naval Base on March 13, where the US imperium, backed up by a number of lickspittles from Australia and the United Kingdom, betrayed the cause of peace and announced to the world that war with China was not only a possibility but distinctly probable.

Central to the project is a staggering outlay of A$368 billion for up to thirteen vessels over three decades. Canberra will purchase at least three US-manufactured nuclear submarines while contributing “significant additional resources” to US shipyards. (Bully for the US builders.) Given that the United States is unable to make up its own inventory of Virginia class nuclear submarines at this stage, the purchase will be second hand, a point which is bound to niggle members of Congress. Two more vessels are also being thrown in as a possibility, should the “need” arise.

During this time, design and construction will take place on a new submarine dubbed the SSN-AUKUS, exploiting the work already undertaken by the UK on replacing the Astute-class submarines. It will be, according to the White House, “based upon the United Kingdom’s next generation SSN design while incorporating cutting edge US submarine technologies, and will be built and deployed by both Australia and the United Kingdom.”

This point was also reiterated by the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. “The Royal Navy will operate the same submarines as the Australian Navy and we’ll share components and parts with the US Navy.” Five of these are intended for the Royal Australian Navy by the middle of the 2050s, with one submarine being produced every two years from the early 2040s.

The speech by the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, was more than a touch embarrassing. It certainly did its bit to bury conventional understandings of sovereignty. “This will be an Australian sovereign capability, commanded by the Royal Australian Navy and sustained by Australians in Australian shipyards, with construction to begin within the decade.” The lexically challenged are truly in charge.

And what about the submarine personnel themselves? Australian submariners as yet unacquainted with nuclear technology would be trained in the US. “I am proud to confirm that they are in the top 30 per cent of their class.” Can the Australians do a bit better than that?

The US President could only express satisfaction at such displays of unflagging, wobbly free obedience. “Today, as we stand at the inflection point of history, where the hard work of announcing deterrence and enhancing stability is going to reflect peace and stability for decades to come, the United States can ask for no better partners in the Indo-Pacific where so much of our shared future will be written.”

As the White House statement promises, visits by US nuclear submarines to Australia will begin this year, with Australian personnel joining US crews for “training and development.” The UK will take its turn at the start of 2026.

Australia promises to become even busier on that front, with a US-UK rotational presence commencing in 2027 which will be named the “Submarine Rotational Force-West” (SRF-West). One UK Astute class submarine, and as many as four Virginia class submarines will find themselves at HMAS Stirling near Perth.

The effusive punditry on the Australian morning proved indigestible. For those inclined towards peace, this must have seemed like a chance to initiate a few citizen arrests. Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, who also holds the defence portfolio, was a quivering sight. He remarked about the scale of the enterprise, justifying it against “the biggest conventional military build-up” in the region – those sneaky authoritarians in Beijing again – in an environment hostile to the “international rules-based order.” Failure to do so would see Australia “condemned”. (No mention here that the US military budget remains the largest on the planet.)

As for the issue of budgetary costs, Marles bizarrely and brazenly suggested that these would be “neutral” in the context of defence, despite the likelihood that cuts will have to be made, and various policy priorities jettisoned.

For morning viewers already fearing for their lives, there was a beaming South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas thrilled that his state would eventually be producing the SSN-AUKUS at the as yet non-existent Submarine Construction Yard in Adelaide. The fact that his state has neither the resources, infrastructure nor the personnel for such a task, was hardly reason to spoil the flag fluttering show. “There are smiles all around,” he beamed to the hosts of the ABC Breakfast show.

US commentators, notably Charles Edel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, emphasised that Australian defence was being vastly improved, or “augmented”, along with its military industrial base. Blame China, suggested Edel, for exploiting a “permissive security environment” and exciting such urges on the part of the three countries. The US Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, even thought that this colossal waste of resources would add to the quotient of regional prosperity.

The opposite is very much the case: a profligate exercise that serves to turn Australia into a multi-generational garrison state at the beckon call of Washington’s war machine that will host, at stages, nuclear weapons. The latter aspect is bound to fly in the face of the Treaty of Rarotonga, otherwise known as the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. But the Alice in Wonderland quality to the AUKUS agreement is bound to paper over that inconvenience. For a warring peace is exactly what awaits.


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  1. Douglas Pritchard

    The only glimpse of light I see in this latest development is that the deal with the French was annulled almost instantaneously when a big player stepped in.
    For that Biden didn`t even need to know the name of our PM.
    We are barely on their radar.
    With a bit of luck (and we desperatly need some) the Chinese will whisper something in our ear, and we can reneg on this deal.
    All that is needed is the statement that we will not involve ourselves in Taiwan, because thats the bogey man where USA will not give an honest answer to either us or China.
    Just hoping that Trump gets up, and we can get back to getting the climate back on track.

  2. GL

    “We are barely on their radar.” But the billions of dollars being spent is well and truly on their greed radar.

  3. Canguro

    I’m clearly not on the same page as some of these crystal-ball prognosticators… like the US Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, [who] thought that this colossal waste of [fiscal] resources (A$368 billion… glurk!) would add to the quotient of regional prosperity.

    Could she actually unpack her thinking, or is it just a parroted talking point from the USA Ambassadorial Manual; Chapter 27, Section III, subset (a)… ‘How to respond to designated Ambassador’s appointed country when lobbying and pressure by USA representatives successfully induces said country to commit obscene amounts of that country’s capital to the MIC thus further feather-bedding our executives pockets with ever-increasing salaries & bonuses. God Bless America’?

    As mentioned elsewhere, if the shit ever actually hits the fan and our grandchildren get drafted into a hot war with the PRC on America’s behest, the A368 billion dollar spend may well find itself consigned to Davy Jones’s locker in a relative twinkling of the proverbial eye. But blokey blokes like Albo or Dutton for that matter won’t be around to shoulder the blame, and meanwhile, back at the ranch, housing remains as unaffordable as ever, costs of living strain households and relationships across the land, climate change induced stress threatens homes in towns and cities from east to west and north to south, technology changes mean that 70% of school-leavers are destined to remain unemployed, and the kingdom of feral animals now rules the wide brown lands and kangaroos and koalas are mere distant memories. What a disaster, this chest-thumping war games bullshit is.

  4. Harry Lime

    I can’t shake the feeling that we, the hoi polloi, are unwitting extras in some hollywood extravaganza that involves the entire planet being incinerated in a pointless show of arms.The military industrial complex in the ultimate show of greed driven insanity.To add insult to injury, the lead actors in this farce are fucking hopeless.And the Australian government?Weak as piss.The priorities in front of things that go ‘bang’ are endless.Charming Jim is gonna have his share of headaches come budget time,and there’ll be no shortage of advice from bucketmouth Taylor and other assorted fuckwits.
    Climate change? What climate change?

  5. Phil Pryor

    It’s hard to face up to commenting, reading it all, assessing and realising the steep drop to failure, pain and stupidity now, our trajectory of backwardness. Will subs shoot down hostile cruise missiles, and ICBM’s? That is what will kill us all in minutes one day, with not a ship with oil, sheep, toys, shirts, coal, gas, holidayers, being on the map of the Indian and Pacific oceans. We have incompetent defence, overseeing hardworking defence workers who cannot promise to assist effectively in flood or fire times. Long ago we had about half a crew for a Collins sub, the others were “out” and so we could not put one to sea. We know eff all about the simple areas of tech here, and cannot crew, maintain, repair, arm or probably actually drive or run one. Buit I’m ready to defend this land and its multinational foreign owned bloodsucking nontaxpaying maggots, with my trusty bush knife…

  6. New England Cocky

    Now the thinking people can see that the Toxic RAbbott destruction of automobile assembly manufacturing capacity was a stupid ideological fantasy that displaced about 30,000 trades people for no good reason. Suddenly these same COALition shysters believe that Australia has the ability of creating a skilled work force out of still air (or should that be hot air?)

    It appears from ABC 7.30 Report (140323) that the thinking strategic planners see that Albanese has drunk the Jonestown Koolaid and been blinded by the too many agents for the US NE military industrial complex attempting to make a profit as the US economy goes down the toilet thanks to the maldistribution of wealth across the American community.

    Australian voters need the Scummo scam or AUKUS subs about as much as they need a hole in the head.

  7. Andrew Smith

    Become a very hot potato, but one is not precluding a need for submarines or similar e.g. protecting or monitoring sea lanes, pipelines, cables etc.

    However, one is also bemused when it suggests, that for the past decade the Australian Defence Dept. has not had a clear long term defence & security strategy, nor supply or purchasing? Back of a cigarette packet?

    How many submarine types have been mooted by different Ministers, PMs and governments also with an eye on employing a modest number of potential workers in SA?

  8. RomeoCharlie29

    Apart from here I haven’t seen a dissenting voice given publicity. Surely ABC 7.30 dragging out Scummo and The Drum with the odious Sheridan were scraping the bottom of the barrel of sycophancy. You had to read Michael West to get Rex Patrick former Submariner and Senator to give an alternative perspective, apart of course from the many plebs who can see the absolute idiocy of this proposition. Climate change anyone? My personal objection – how can a country in which 500 000 children don’t have enough to eat, and where jobseeker is below the poverty line, contemplate the expenditure of such an obscene amount of money on such a cloud cuckoo land idea?

    And rather than beckon call, beck and call in the final par

  9. Neville Smith

    Thank you Dr Binoy Kampmark … such is the nature of triple nation Australia, a reborn UK Colony and a 1975 created US Territory recently promoted above Deputy Sheriff status owning both major Australian political parties. All the consequence or two forever fearful, gutless political parties serving neoliberalism and anti-humanitarianism since 1984.

    Were I the Chinese leader I would be delighted watching the USA, UK and Australia destroying themselve just as the British did over Suez and the USA has continuously done since Korea.

    It is past rime for Australia to elect the Drovers Dog to shat in the US and UK tucker boxes … something Hawke prevented occuring.

  10. Harry Lime

    If we ever needed another Gough Whitlam,now is the time,and it is definitely NOT Albo.Our Labor government is nothing like the party of the people,bullshit not withstanding.The Greens are the Only alternative,and they have been for years,despite their learner mistakes.Time to head for the hills,if you haven’t already.

  11. Douglas Pritchard

    Bush would go through an entire speech about the invasion of Iraq without once mentioning the word “OIL”.
    Americans are devious like that, or just genetically dishonest.
    They have no time for international law.
    Now Albo talks about mortgaging this country to USA, and foregoing our sovereignty without once mentioning the word “China”.
    He is unable to face the reality that without China we are nothing, simply another South Pacific Island.
    But with USA as a friend we are a nice big fat target to deflect from their mainland, and right royally shafted.
    With both main parties behind this stupidity it has to be an independant for me next election.

  12. Paul Flanagan

    Has anyone asked the question ‘How many subs will China build in the next thirty years? I don’t think they’d like the answer. Colossal waste of money on useless toys when the money could be so better spent elsewhere.

  13. Clakka

    SSN = Stupid Silly Nonsense. A race to the bottom. Yet again by cavemen having found clubs and club makers. So piss-weak – when they emerge from the last darkness into the light they dwell on their latest nightmare, shit themselves and go for the clubs again.

    It’s like smashing the piggy bank because it’s there, and fessing up with a lame excuse?

  14. Anthony Judge

    Listening to AUKUS commentators on the major challenge of developing the requistie technical expertise for the manufacture of nuclear submarines in South Australia, I find myself bemused by the fact that I may well be one of the few residents of that state with “expertise” in nuclear power submarines. However this takes the form of work experience for the UK-based Hawker Siddeley Nuclear Power Company whilst pursuing a degree in chemical engineering at Imperial College. The requirement was to determine the combination of gases at risk of explosion in a nuclear submarine environment. The research was undertaken in 1960 [sic] in an abandoned air raid shelter under conditions which would embarrass Heath Robinson. The value of the research for the construction of UK submarines is unclear. The company ceased operations as such in the following decade. (Alexander Pask, Remembering Hawker Siddeley: The Rise (And Fall) of Britain’s Aviation Powerhouse, International Aviation HQ, 28 July 2021 — Implications for AUKUS SA?

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