Beijing is spitting chips at Australia’s sub-deal with the United States, although the first boat has not been expected in more than a decade. Their real anger is due to something else.
The biggest advantage of a nuclear submarine is that it never has to surface, which is also the biggest advantage of the Australia Nuclear Submarine Agreement.
There has been a lot of debate about the technical merits of the new nuclear submarines that we will get from the US and UK versus the diesel powered submarines we just ditched from the French. At least all of our chair epidemiologists have found a new area of ââexpertise.
But the most critical characteristic of diesel and nuclear submarines is what they have in common: neither actually exists.
Australia does not have any French submarines or American submarines – and it will not have any for a very long time.
In fact, the seismic announcement that caused the French ambassador and the president to flee slyly filter his calls has almost nothing to do with submarines. Indeed, it is inconceivable that such explosive temper tantrums could be caused by an argument over water metal.
Instead, it’s something much more primitive and real – and much more real than the ghost submarines.
Flags, not boats, matter most
Paul Keating knows this, which is why the reaction of the former Prime Minister was even more visceral than that of the French. He may have landed on the wrong side of the argument, but at least he knew what it was.
The submarine exchange’s most valuable commodities are not underwater cans, but the flags that stood behind Scott Morrison, Boris Johnson and Joe Biden when the three leaders announced the new deal.
For Australia, it was a clear message to China that we may not be the biggest kid on the playing field, but we have both Blighty and Biff behind our backs. For the UK and US it was a clear message that they now have not only an eye on the region, but a dog in the fight.
Many members of the Lunar Green Left have sought to describe it as provocative action, but it is only a form of geopolitical blame for the victims. After China’s blatant trade war against Australia, its ubiquitous cyberattacks against our institutions, its open belligerence over Hong Kong and Taiwan, and its literal rise of the South China Sea seabed to create military bases – without talking about the countless masses – large-scale human rights violations on one’s own continent – one wonders what they would consider an appropriate strategic response.
Australia does not measure up to China militarily
There was a time in world affairs, barely a decade or two ago, when China was rightly seen as a rational and reasonable actor. Unfortunately, his most recent actions prove that while he may still be rational – his hyper-nationalist and expansionist agenda is nothing if not calculated – it is no longer reasonable. Reasonable countries do not impose 200 percent tariffs on wine.
So what do we do? The truth is, there is not much we can do. Clearly, Australia will never measure up to China in a direct fight, be it a trade war, a cold war, or – God forbid – a hot war.
Our only option is to remind the Chinese that, as Princess Leia told Jabba the Hutt, we have powerful friends. Some might laugh at the fact that the United States is a declining superpower, but it is the only one we have. And, as Crosby, Stills, and Nash once sang, you’ve got to love whoever you’re with.
It’s also worth noting that while the United States can resist its last two presidents, reports of their deaths may have been greatly exaggerated. If a nation can survive both Trump and Biden, it is surely a mark of infinite resilience.
The rigged position of working with a sub-agreement
It is therefore both totally and unfortunately unnecessary that this new – or rather renewed – alliance provokes such an identity crisis within the Australian Labor Party. Labor has always been a friend of America, to the point that it even uses the American spelling of its very name.
The great John Curtin may have made the most important decision in Australian history when he turned to the United States to defend Australia against Japan after the fall of Singapore in World War II . It is therefore strange that the party has been infected with anti-American sentiment in all the decades since.
Of course, in the 1990s Labor heralded the dawn of the Asian Century and maybe it was right then. That doesn’t mean it’s still right now.
Appeasing Indonesia while it oppressed East Timor was bad enough. Appeasing China as it oppresses Hong Kong and Taiwan is a whole new art of acquiescence. He certainly has no place in a party that calls itself progressive.
Anthony Albanese is right to support our strengthened position as a member of a Western liberal democratic alliance. As the Leader of the Opposition, he is forced to ask questions and find faults, but he has to stay strong even if bombarded by freaks on the left.
Former MPs can go on and cry, but only future MPs count.