Commentary on Political Economy

Friday 17 September 2021



I usually agree with this guy. To my mind, he is one of the smartest people in Oz. 

Scott Morrison’s nuke deal a geopolitical game changer

Christopher Joye

Australia is finally, and belatedly, starting to insure against the risks it faces – a brave decision that will irreversibly alter our strategic path, writes Christopher Joye.

It is the single most important national security decision Australia has made since World War II: Prime Minister Scott Morrison forging a “three-eyes” alliance with the US and UK (aka AUKUS) to equip Australia with at least eight of the most lethal, stealthy and, crucially, nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines on the planet. Australia will join just six other countries fielding these highly strategic weapons.

The most likely candidate, an improved version of the pump-jet-propelled US Virginia class boat (which this column has advocated as a solution to Australia’s existential security crisis for a decade now) will carry vertical launch tubes that can fire medium-range cruise, ballistic and hypersonic missiles at any future adversary. (By the way, how do we protect the Kiwis, who spend nothing on defence, if they won’t let our nukes in their waters?)

For the first time in history, we will possess a truly credible, second-strike deterrence to deliver devastating strikes on any nation that seeks to inflict harm upon us through the Virginia’s ability to lurk for months underwater undetected with unlimited range in contested areas such as the East China Sea, South China Sea and/or Taiwanese Straits.

A Virginia class fast-attack submarine. Australia decided to invest in US nuclear-powered submarines and dump its contract with France to build diesel-electric subs because of a changed strategic environment, Scott Morrison said on Thursday, AP

This long overdue decision has been galvanised by the mortal threats presented by China’s vain attempts to relentlessly subjugate Australia and its interests to President Xi Jinping’s grand vision of communism with Chinese characteristics prevailing in what he says is an inevitable conflict with capitalism and its state sponsors. Despite the denials, the drums of war only beat louder.

As one of our China advisers once observed: “Xi picked the wrong country at the wrong time with the wrong prime minister to bully.” Given Australia’s ingrained anti-authoritarian heritage, we don’t respond well to anyone trying to coerce us into bending the knee. It was never going to happen.

Australia is finally, and belatedly, starting to insure against the risks it faces. It is a brave decision that will irreversibly alter our strategic path.

Way back in 2012, this column revealed that the Coalition was considering buying nuclear submarines from the US or UK. “Senior Coalition frontbenchers told AFR Weekend that acquiring or leasing Virginia class nuclear submarines equipped with conventional weapons, such as cruise missiles, would be supported by the Obama administration,” we reported. “Purchasing the submarines is not yet Coalition policy but some shadow ministers have discussed the idea with United States officials.”

We argued that the Virginia class boats were demonstrably the most attractive choice, that the door to acquiring this US capability was wide open, and that continuing to free-ride off much higher US military spending was not a tenable long-term position.

In 2016, this column characterised the decision to buy $90 billion worth of unproven diesel-electric French submarines based on a nuclear-powered design as the biggest white elephant in history.

Lift in defence spending

As recently as May this year, I asked a senior cabinet minister why Australia did not just procure the UK Astute class or US Virginia class boats to cauterise our never-ending conventional-submarine dramas.

One important development that accompanied this geopolitical game changer was Morrison’s announcement that he would be lifting defence spending to significantly more than 2 per cent of GDP, which is the minimum required at a time when the probability of major power conflict has increased to 50 per cent.

Taken together, Australia is finally, and belatedly, starting to insure against the risks it faces. It is a brave decision that will irreversibly alter our strategic path.


"For the first time in history, we will possess a truly credible, second-strike deterrence to deliver devastating strikes on any nation that seeks to inflict harm upon us through the Virginia’s ability to lurk for months underwater undetected with unlimited range in contested areas such as the East China Sea, South China Sea and/or Taiwanese Straits."

... That rustling sound you hear? Rats' whiskers quivering in fear.... Haha...

People have to understand that, if we are not formally at war, only the most foolish and irresponsible human would fail to see that we are one step away from it. And indeed, as Joye and others clearly imply, it is only by presenting our enemies with overwhelming force will we have any chance at all to prevent one.

U.S.-Australia Submarine Pact Targets China’s Undersea Weakness

By sharing technology, Washington will effectively augment its own Asian fleet to help deter Beijing from expansionis

Australia’s new attack submarines, which won’t be ready for over a decade, would threaten one of China’s relative military weaknesse


By Alastair Gale and Nancy A. Yousse

Updated Sept. 17, 2021 3:01 pm E




Australia’s decision to build eight nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. technology will buttress America’s undersea edge over China and could help create a network of submarine defenses from the Indian to Pacific oceans to help deter Beijing from expansionis

China has rapidly built up its military in recent years, including over $200 billion in spending planned for this year, and now has a larger navy than the U.S. However, the U.S. maintains an advantage below the surface of the sea with more powerful submarines that are harder to detec

By sharing its technology with Australia and deepening defense ties, the U.S. will effectively augment its own Asian fleet as both countries focus on deterring Chin

“It’s a resetting of the long-term military balance in the Indo-Pacific because these are extremely powerful strike weapons,” said Michael Shoebridge, director of the defense, strategy and national security program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a government-backed think tan

‘It’s a resetting of the long-term military balance in the Indo-Pacific because these are extremely powerful strike weapons

— Michael Shoebridge of the Australian Strategic Policy Institu

The first of Australia’s new attack submarines, which are designed to destroy other submarines and surface vessels, won’t be ready for over a decade. But they threaten one of China’s relative military weaknesses: the ability to locate and defeat submarines, particularly nuclear-powered vessels


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The Pentagon said in its annual report on China’s military last year that while Beijing was advancing in its undersea warfare abilities, “it continues to lack a robust deep-water anti-submarine warfare capability.

By agreeing to a deal with Australia on nuclear-powered submarines, the U.S. departed from decades of strict policies against sharing the technology. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 precluded sharing U.S. nuclear technology with others, although the U.S. and U.K. later that decade signed a treaty calling for nuclear weapons cooperatio

“As our closest ally, there is a benefit to the U.K. having a nuclear deterrent of its own as well as nuclear reactor designs,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who specializes on naval issue

Other countries have asked the U.S. to share its technology but have been rebuffed, Mr. Clark said. The U.S. permitted exports of diesel-powered submarines to other countries between 1945 and 1980, according to the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative. Exports all but stopped in 1980, and no U.S.-made submarines have been exported since 199

The technology sharing will “contribute to what I call integrated deterrence in the region, the ability for the United States military to work more effectively with our allies and partners in defense of our shared security interests,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursda

Underscoring the military tension in the region, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer transited through the Taiwan Strait on Friday, remaining in international waters, but demonstrating what officials said was a continuing U.S. commitment to free and open seafaring in the Pacific regio

China has shown its intention to improve its ability to counter submarines, including through the rare publicizing of an anti-submarine drill last yea

The U.S. and China have roughly the same number of submarines, but while all of the 52 U.S. attack submarines are nuclear powered, seven of China’s 62 attack submarines are nuclear propelled, according to the Pentagon. The rest are diesel powered and have to surface frequently to clear exhaust and charge batteries that provide additional power. Nuclear-powered submarines are also faster than diesel-powered vessel

Security analysts say that growing defense cooperation among the U.S., Australia, Japan and India, an informal alliance known as the Quad that was formed around concerns about China’s rising power, could eventually lead to some coordination of their submarine fleets across the Indo-Pacific regio

India inaugurated its first nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine in 2018 and has around 15 diesel-electric attack submarines, while Japan operates around 24 diesel-electric attack submarine

Euan Graham, an Asia-Pacific security analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, said Australia’s southern location means its submarines could play a role alongside India in security in the Indian Ocea

“That would become a kind of network-enhancing multiplier, which would make life very difficult to operate on the surface and below it,” he sai

Broader networks of coordination among submarine fleets could also help ensure that important trade routes in the Indo-Pacific region are kept open and protect important waterways such as the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia. Mr. Graham said such arrangements would require major steps forward in military information and intelligence sharin

The leaders of the Quad are set to meet in Washington on Sept. 24 and will discuss ways to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, according to the White Hous

Security analysts warn that China’s military capabilities will advance in the years it takes Australia’s new submarines to arrive and say that while eight submarines are expected, only two or three are likely to be at sea at any one time. Nonetheless, they are seen as significant for the military balance in the regio

“This will be a major force that will have significant strategic weight against any adversary,” said Sam Roggeveen, the director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based foreign-policy think tank.

Australia will end up spending around 4% of GDP or $200 billion a year... mightily close to China's $350B. This will crunch the Chinese economy, putting it in a "death spiral" similar to what Reagan did you to the Soviet Union with Star Wars...

Essentially, the Anglophone AUKUS, especially when added to the Quadrangle entente, is the equivalent of the "cordon sanitaire" with which Europe stifled the Soviets after World War One. 

Already, Xi's bid to extend his term next year is not looking good. I think his grip on power is not sufficient to secure internal support, especially if the financial crisis breaks out in China by year's end.

Xi hasn't left China in NEARLY TWO YEARS, which tells me that his hold on power is growing very tenuous.

Just as a further illustration, if any was needed, of Keating's addled, ailing and wilting mind, he declared yesterday, with characteristic display of characterless bluster, that "land beats sea anytime".

Try to explain that to Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or to Hirohito in WW2, or even to the Argentine junta in the Falklands fiasco

Paul Keating must qualify as the most insolent arrogant politician Australia has EVER produced. His exhibitions in Parliament, aided by the flaws of lopsided House Rules in Question Time, evidently went to his head! He never realised that bar-room cant is no substitute for intellect - lack of which he shares, alas, with nearly every other Australian politician. What sets others apart from Keating, however, is humility and introspection - a sense of self-doubt; a quality Keating is incapable of acquiring EVEN IN OLD AGE, when wisdom usually softens the inevitable decline of their faculties in decent humans. Always a pub brawler, a fascist Gauleiter, Keating never possessed the human decency that Hawke displayed...

I couldn't resist a shot at Keating and Hawke about the rampant suicidal insanity of Australia as an "Asian" nation. Australia will be and remain Western or it will succumb to Oriental despotism. Either we reshape Asia into our likeness and image, or these maggot civilization will devour us.

Australia stands next in line. It is one thing, however essential and long delayed, for Australia to renounce the ridiculous attempt to manufacture its own submarines and for the US not to furnish them to us, and quite another for Australian governments to stem the migration tide from deadly enemies like China (ideological, military, cultural) or the Middle East (religious), or even India (cultural and religious). I keep saying: liberalism and capitalism are or contain at bottom a "faith", a religion, a creed, entirely and virulently incompatible with other "faiths", religious or socialist. Unless our governments turn the tide of suicidal "tolerance" toward these antagonistic"faiths", our countries and the West are lost.

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