Submarine Sabotage: AUKUS Awkward

PM Scotty recently announced via press conference with new buddies Joe and Boris, that Australia is ditching a submarine-building agreement with the French, who were kept in the dark for 18 months while this tripartite AUKUS alliance in the Indo-Pacific was hatched with ‘traditional’ friends. It may allow transfer of US nuclear sub technology to Australia. 

Scotty said he tried calling President Macron the day before to inform him that the $90 billion contract to build 12 diesel-powered French submarines in Australia was to be scrapped. Are you kidding? Such wilful offence cannot be ignored, and Emmanuel is not taking Scotty’s calls. Mate, the French probably invented diplomacy, and they definitely don’t appreciate getting awkwardly shafted by a supposed ally. Mon dieu, what a diplomatic debacle!

Meantime US Congress has not yet agreed to a technology transfer to Australia for construction of eight nuclear-powered subs. Cancellation of our French agreements will cost a motza and deflate nascent Australian sub-building capacities.

Our master gaffer is addicted to press conferences, his hubris unlimited. Our Boy from The Shire (adopted) got to strut the world stage with Biden and Johnson. Joe has already apologised to the French for not keeping them in the loop, but not our boy. He never apologises, which is kinda weird for a Pentecostal Christian, non? Though his door is always open to the French, or some such blather.

The French Barracuda class submarine is normally nuclear-powered, but was re-designed to meet Australia’s requirement for diesel propulsion. Apparently the increased Chinese threat means we now need nuclear propulsion to go further and quieter. But China hasn’t moved. The threat comes from the same place. It doesn’t make sense! So the French deal was a dud from the start?

Why not build nuclear-powered Barracudas then? It will take 20 years to get US-sourced subs up and running. Meantime, China already has 74 subs (more than the US), including about a dozen nuclear with another eight planned by 2030.

Why are we bothering with submarines at all? The answer is the usual woolly platitudes about projecting power, blah blah. Are we going to attack China with our sub missiles, or slug it out with them? What is the military strategy? Or are we gunna do gunboat diplomacy in the South China Sea?

Meantime, what the hell are we going to do, Scotty, if the Chinese menace is imminent? Oh of course, as always we fall back on our old friends to protect us. The only song in our playlist!

The little Aussie battler has always been paranoid about invasion: by the French (oh yeah!), the Russians, the Chinese, and the Japanese. Presumably the Chinese will invade the Philippines and Indonesia on their way to get us.

Plus ça change. That fella from Down Under is going All the Way with the US of A, as usual. Forget about sovereign foreign policy with our own objectives and independence, and pursuing peace in our region. Instead, we ramp up the rhetoric. 

Although, hold on a tick, maybe Scotty is a genius after all? He could be outsmarting the Chinese and everybody else: talk tough, save another super-motza on new submarines knowing that they’ll never get built anyway, and let Uncle Sam take care of us. And f**k the French. Way to go, cool dude, go the Sharks!

Oh, and you’ve also gotta hand it to Boris when he told the French in another press conference to ‘prenez un grip’ and ‘donnez-moi un break’. His nonsense, made-up ‘franglais’ (la grippe is the flu) was a stellar, post-Brexit display of ignorance, cultural insensitivity and a diplomatic gaffe almost to Scotty’s standard. The Brits are often referred to by French people as the perfidious Albion, for obvious reasons.

By the way, you might ask where is the UK’s strategic interest in the Indo-Pacific region? No more Hong Kong. Singapore fell in 1942. East of Suez is ancient history. Ah, but they still have their British Indian Ocean Territory, the Chagos Archipelago, 1300 miles south of Mauritius, and site of a major US military base. 

A colonial vestige par excellence, which the Brits, in violation of international conventions on decolonisation, excised from newly-independent Mauritius back in the 60s. And then removed the Chassogian population from it, for security reasons, to facilitate the US-leased land for their base on Diego Garcia. But, I digress. 

Beyond diplomacy and military matters, French response to our wilful display of disloyalty (treachery, for some) and lack of transparency may well endanger the current negotiations for a free trade agreement with the European Union. 

Planned use of nuclear-power in regional waters may also help to destabilise nuclear non-proliferation arrangements. 

Consequences, Scotty!  AUKUS my arse.

(Scotty’s flag mask should have been a warning for Emmanuel)

Macron & Morrison

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