Yesterday, the leaders of Australia, Great Britain and the USA announced a new agreement. The focus is on equipping Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which are produced by the United States and Great Britain. A few weeks after the NATO-withdrawal from Afghanistan, this is the first step towards the new policy in the indo-pacific area. But this came to a cost for an old european ally. How will this agreement influence the world?
AUKUS is the alliance of three anglo-american states. This is remarkable in multiple ways.
Initially, this will not involve the Quad Quartet, which includes Japan and India in addition to the United States and Australia. However, the first meeting of this alliance will take place in the coming days, and new, deeper agreements between these countries are possible in the process.
New Zealand and Canada, like the three AUKUS countries members of the Five-Eye intelligence alliance, were apparently not made privy to these plans. While Canada is generally not considered of great importance by U.S. strategists with respect to the Pacific, New Zealand seems to have been caught downright off guard. The country’s prime minister, for example, also immediately announced that it would not grant transit rights to a nuclear-powered submarine. This would violate its existing commitments to a world without nuclear energy.
What became very clear at this conclusion is Europe’s irrelevance in this new showdown in the Pacific. France was clearly shown its limits, and the European Union plays almost no role at all in all these considerations. The fact that the U.S. under Biden, after the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, has now for the second time offended its European allies is gradually becoming a real burden on the transatlantic relationship. In France, some are already talking about the biggest bilateral crisis since the U.S. campaign in Iraq in 2003, which the French president clearly rejected at the time.
In its reaction to the new agreement, France has therefore also, once again, urged new efforts on the part of the European Union. For decades, however, the European Union has been incapable of pursuing a strategically far-sighted, let alone militarily successful policy. Nor are all the states of the Union seriously interested in such a policy.
In the days to come, more steps will follow in the direction of, at best, a new security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, or, at worst, increasing confrontation between the U.S. and China. After the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, the future is now being played out in the East.