Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 20, 2021

The Fallout From The AUKUS Deal

The AUKUS deal allowed Australia to cancel an order for diesel driven submarines from France by taking up a U.S. and British offer to eventually acquire nuclear driven submarines.

It is not clear at all that Australia will find the money to actually pay for nuclear submarines. These are 50-100% more expensive that conventional ones. Australia also wants to make sure that at least 60% of the price flows back to Australian manufacturing. But there are no companies in Australia who have experience with work on nuclear technology. It is also unlikely that the U.S. or UK would let Australia gain such capacity.

There is also little chance that any of the envisioned new boats will be ready before 2040. By then Taiwan will likely be under Beijing's control and the naval primacy of China in the South China Sea will only have grown. The so far declared time frame and purpose of those boats is thereby questionable.

That may well be because the real plan is a different one:

The short-term leasing of nuclear-powered submarines from the UK or the US is being considered by the Morrison government but the Coalition insists nuclear weapons won’t be based in Australia.

The finance minister, Simon Birmingham, and the defence minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed in seperate interviews on Sunday that leasing submarines from the Aukus allies could be a stop-gap solution until Australia takes delivery of its own – potentially in the 2040s.

“The short answer is yes,” Dutton said when asked on Sky News about leasing vessels.

Birmingham said leasing arrangements would not necessarily “increase the number of submarines and the capability across all of the partner nations” but would help with training and information sharing.

“Doing so may provide opportunities for us to train our sailors, provide the skills and knowledge in terms of how we operate,” he told the ABC.

[It would help] provide the platforms for us to upgrade the infrastructure in Perth, that will be necessary for the operation of these submarines. I expect we will see … lease arrangements or greater joint operations between our navies in the future that sees our sailors working more closely and indeed, potentially on UK and US vessels to get that skills and training and knowledge.”

Perth will thereby be build up into a base that is compatible with the likely permanent stationing of U.S. nuclear submarines. These carry nuclear weapons.

The 'leased' boats, or at least their propulsion parts, would of course be still manned by U.S. or British sailors. The Australians already have problems retaining crews for their existing submarines. The few that will be available for the 'leased' boats will not be enough to run them. The Australians would pay largely for the privilege of being guests on board of doubtlessly U.S. commanded submarines.

The Australian government also plans to buy a number of expensive stand off missiles and long range weapons from the U.S. This will further integrate its forces into U.S. plans for war on China.

As I wrote in a previous piece:

This is a huge but short term win for the U.S. with an also-ran booby price for Britain and a strategic loss of sovereignty and budget control for Australia.

The loss of Australian sovereignty, as far as it existed, is obvious. Its new plans, like previous anti-China moves, will also have bad economic consequences. Talks about a free trade agreement with the EU will now be halted:

"One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we want to know what happened and why," [European Commission President Ursula] von der Leyen said, adding that the situation must be clarified "before you keep on going with business as usual."
The European Union was Australia's third largest trading partner in 2020, according to the European Commission. Goods trade between the two amounted to €36 billion ($42 billion) that year while trade in services was worth €26 billion ($30 billion) in 2019.
The threat to an EU trade deal comes at a time when Australia is looking to develop new export markets after relations with China, its largest trading partner, soured recently.

Australian coal, wine, barley and beef have all already been affected by trade tensions with China, and experts say that AUKUS has antagonized Beijing even further.

China is still Australia's largest trading partner. The main Australian export product to China is iron ore. But that trade is now also in deep trouble:

The price of iron ore, Australia’s biggest export, has continued to plunge as top customer China steps up moves to cut its steel output and reduce carbon emissions for the third straight month.

After hitting a record-breaking $US230 a tonne in May, the key steel-making material has had its value slashed in half and is now trading below $US110 a tonne, hammering the share prices of the ASX-listed mining heavyweights BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue.

There are additional reasons why China's need for iron ore, and therefore its price, will go down. The near crash of China's cash strapped property group Evergrande will bring a pause to China's building boom. China is also recycling more and more steel from old infrastructure and thereby needs less raw iron ore input even while it continues to build new factories. The iron ore China still needs will soon come from Africa:

The top focus for China’s diversification push is Guinea. An impoverished but mineral rich country in West Africa. A 110 km range of hills called Simandou is said to hold the world’s largest reserve of untapped high-quality iron ore.
The project to develop Simandou has been split into four blocks. China holds either a direct or indirect stake in every one of them. The area holds an estimated 2.4 billion tons of ore graded at over 65.5%.

“Extraction of Simandou’s iron ore reserves would transform the global market and catapult Guinea into an iron ore export powerhouse alongside Australia and Brazil,” Lauren Johnston, a research associate at the SOAS China Institute of the University of London, told Nikkei.

If China unlocks Simandou’s reserves and drives a drop in international iron ore prices, “it could see selective commodity markets increasingly driven by intra-developing country dynamics,” Johnston said.

China would find such waters easier to navigate than having to do business with Quad member Australia.

(The recent coup in Guinea is unlikely not change these plans.)

Australia's extraction boom fueled by China's rise is coming to an end. The country will have to cut its budget and will need to seek a new economic model.

But why did I call this a "huge but short term win" for the U.S.?

It is a win in that the U.S. has gained a submarine base in Australia and will get paid for using it. This looks well if the intent is to wage a cold war on China. It is doubtful that this is a necessary strategy and it is equally doubtful that it can be successful. The weapons manufacturers will of course still love it.

But it is a only a short term win in the sense that the U.S. will lose many of its current and potential future partners over it. It has degraded its QUAD partner India and Japan to second tier status. It has increased suspicion in Indonesia, Malaysia and even Singapore of eventual nefarious plans against them:

In particular, Indonesia and Malaysia have come out strongly against Australia’s plan to acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines with the help of the US and Britain. Even Singapore, Australia’s most reliable ally in the region, has expressed concern.
If anything, the Aukus move reinforced the widely held perception that Australia’s mantra of being “part of the region” is, in fact, “empty talk”. Australia has firmly signalled its intentions to put its Anglo allies in the US and Britain first.

A former British ambassador to France predicts trouble for NATO:

Peter Ricketts said Canberra's decision to abandon a contract with Paris for diesel-powered subs in favour of nuclear-powered ones from Washington drove a wedge between the allies and weakened the transatlantic alliance.

"I think this move certainly undermines French confidence in NATO and NATO allies, and therefore reinforces their feeling that they should be driving for European strategic autonomy," he told AFP.

"I think that can only be damaging to NATO, because NATO depends on trust. The repair work needs to begin urgently."

EU foreign ministers are due to discuss the new defence pact signed between the United States, Australia and Britain, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Monday.
Ricketts, who was permanent representative to NATO in 2003-2006, said France would view the row as "a turning point" in relations with the United States and Britain.

"It's reinforced a feeling in Paris that I pick up that the Americans are increasingly turning their back on European security allies and focusing on their confrontation with China," he added.

France, Germany and other European countries want to be economic partners of China. They see the U.S. attempts to launch a new cold war as a completely unnecessary diversion from other problems. U.S. efforts to keep the Europeans 'in line' with its plans will become increasingly difficult.

Overall the U.S. has won a base and a small partner in its hopeless endeavor to subdue the four times larger China but has lost trust and support in huge parts of the rest of the world. It is a strategic error with long term consequences.


Posted by b on September 20, 2021 at 18:22 UTC | Permalink

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@ Roger (157)

The Russians also wiped out the Japanese army in Manchuria in a lightning strike very near the end of the war, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were aimed at them not the Japanese. The US had fully broken the codes and knew that the Japanese were desperate to surrender.
By 'them', you mean the Russians?

I've been told that the nuclear bombings were meant to precede a similar bombing campaign against Soviet Russia, with Japan being used as a guinea pig - dunno if that's what you're thinking as well. There was also the intention of intimidating/blackmailing the Soviets into submission. It's probably not ironic that, keeping your last sentence in mind, Putin condemned the nukings to be a war crime.

In my opinion the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was just as Russophobic, if not more so, as it was anti-Japanese. It henceforth bothers the shite out of me every time a reader of an otherwise pro-Russian website (RT, Sputnik, Kommersant, RIA, etc.) claims that the nukes were intended to teach Japan a lesson, that two weren't enough, etc. every time US-controlled Tokyo does or says something stupid , as not only does it imply that "US war crimes are bad... unless they're good", but it also screams "Stockholm syndrome" on the part of said reader.

Posted by: joey_n | Sep 21 2021 21:53 utc | 201

If no specialized maintenance facilities was required after each sortie Russian diesel subs could resupply in China, but that would depend on what maintenance is required.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Sep 21 2021 22:03 utc | 202

Sorry timed out again. Now I can spend the rest of the day trying to fix the other frustrating digital problems.

Posted by: Paul | Sep 21 2021 22:53 utc | 203

Cyril@154; Roger@157:

Thanks for your comments above :-). I was merely disputing antonym's comment on India fighting Japan during WW2. Not until 1947, there was no India. India was an ill-defined area in South Asia known as a British Colony. If anything, it was British who was resisting Japan. But the Brits were horrible fighters, and the Japs weren't all that interested in India per se. Japan was actually interested in conquering Indo-China.

The main point though is the fact that western meme credit the US for defeating Nazi Germany in the European theater and Japan in the Asian theater, whereas in fact it was Russia defeating Germany and China defeating Japan on mainland Asia. At this point in history, however, the truth is beginning to emerge even amongst the western intelligentsia. I see more and more credit being given to USSR for Hitler's downfall. Hollywood propaganda has limited shelf life.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Sep 21 2021 23:34 utc | 204

An excellent video commentary by Martyanov on the central importance of submarine power:

Well worth watching, if you want some real facts from a real naval expert! 👍

Posted by: Gordog | Sep 22 2021 0:27 utc | 205

What you forgot to mention is the memory of the Kursk in this new geopolitical initiative.

The Chinese and the Russians will not let another Kursk happen.

Posted by: james cook | Sep 22 2021 3:26 utc | 206


It is the Kokoda TRACK not ' trail', that is an Americanism picked up by some later 'historians' and newspapers, easy to confuse. Some Australians are confused too.

See the 1931 Australian song The Road to Gundagai'

"There's a track winding back

To an old fashioned shack...."

Posted by: Paul | Sep 22 2021 3:41 utc | 207

@ ak47

If Akhand Bharat is imperial than what are the Chinese takeovers of Tibet, Aksai Chin, the South China sea, Macao, Hong Kong and next Taiwan? Or Afghanistan (and Kashmir) by Pakistan?

If the BJP government is fascistic than what are the PTI in Pakistan or the PCC in China?

Super double standards.

Posted by: Antonym | Sep 22 2021 3:43 utc | 208

@ ak47

You got your countries mixed up: Pakistan is the mayor non member NATO alley. India is only driven to the US by PLA aggression in the Himalayas during Covid in April 2020.
Just 6 months before on October 11-12 PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on an informal summit at Mamallapuram, a coastal town near Chennai:

Posted by: Antonym | Sep 22 2021 3:50 utc | 209

@ Cyril | Sep 21 2021 16:08 utc | 154

I never claimed that there were more Indian WWII (military) casualties than Chinese: that would be absurd. I only showed "Oriental Voice" #108 that some Indian casualties did happen against the Japanese, even on Indian soil where he wrote only Chinese fought/died in British India.

Posted by: Antonym | Sep 22 2021 4:14 utc | 210

Three important points:

France is one of the 5 permanent UNSC members. Guess Washington forgot about that. There will be no way Washington ever gets anything passed in the UNSC from now on.

Washington also seemed to have forgotten that France only rejoined NATO in 2007 after DeGaulle withdrew in 1966. One can imagine, Germany, Italy, Spain, and a few of the other EU countries joining France if they decide to pull another DeGaulle 1966.

Finally - the Subs ordered by Oz from France are a Nuke powered sub that was changed over to Diesel-Electric for the Ozzies.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 22 2021 6:36 utc | 212

On the funnier side, FUKUS is now AUKUS.

I'm surprised both are deemed grammatically correct by web browsers, LOL.

Posted by: Smith | Sep 22 2021 6:40 utc | 213

Paul 207
A long time since I heard that one Paul. Brings back some early memories.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Sep 22 2021 7:13 utc | 214

Paul | Sep 22 2021 3:41 utc | 207

OK, Now I'm on track to get it right.

The locals had a good system where they had one large, very heavy Japanese machine gun, that they sold to groups at the beginning of the trek up the track. These would then carry it over the worst part, before finally abandoning it before the end. So the locals would then sell the SAME machine gun to another group doing the same trek in the opposite direction. Who would then carry it over the worst part....... to be continued ad infinitum.

Posted by: Stonebird | Sep 22 2021 7:34 utc | 215

Gordog | Sep 21 2021 21:17 utc | 198

For info. HI Sutton posts that ;

"There are currently 5 Russian Navy Pr.636.3 Improved KILO Class submarines in the Mediterranean. Analysis of Open sources confirms that four of them are in Tartus, Syria".

Posted by: Stonebird | Sep 22 2021 7:52 utc | 216

@Oriental Voice | Sep 21 2021 23:34 utc | 204

You're welcome. Antonym was annoying me too.

Posted by: Cyril | Sep 22 2021 8:20 utc | 217

The numbers in the graphic are distortions. The Australian Collins class for instance has a travel speed of 10kn and an endurance of 70d, not 6,5kn and 50d as given in the graphic. The French-build successor of the Collins was planned for an endurance of 80d.
(I assume somebody who advocates for the AUKUS-deal made that graphic.)

There are three sources for sound emmissions for a submarine: The rotating srew, the body of the submarine floating through the water and the engines. At 3-4kn the first two of them get so low that they are below the detection threshold. That would be the speed of a submarine in a high-thread environment. 3-4kn is also the area where the electric engines become undetectable. Nuclear submarines have a disadvantage here because they hava a cooling system for the reactor that has to run even when the submarine stands still.

Higher speeds are mainly relevant for getting to and from the operational area and in low-thread environments in general.

Posted by: m | Sep 22 2021 8:36 utc | 218

@Antonym | Sep 22 2021 4:14 utc | 210

I never claimed that there were more Indian WWII (military) casualties than Chinese: that would be absurd. I only showed "Oriental Voice" #108 that some Indian casualties did happen against the Japanese, even on Indian soil where he wrote only Chinese fought/died in British India.

Oriental Voice made a very plausible claim that China basically defeated the Japanese in World War 2, and that India did not do much. That was the context.

You protested this, citing several battles between Indians and the Japanese Imperial Army. However, you were not honest enough to mention how relatively trivial India's casualty count was compared to China's, encouraging the reader to assume they were comparable. They were not -- by orders of magnitude. Thus my statement that you, Antonym, were being deceptive. Your previous record of dishonesty only strengthens my opinion.

Posted by: Cyril | Sep 22 2021 8:37 utc | 219

Posted by: Anon | Sep 22 2021 6:36 utc | 212

France is one of the 5 permanent UNSC members. Guess Washington forgot about that. There will be no way Washington ever gets anything passed in the UNSC from now on.

Is this a prediction or a wish? I'm afraid you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Posted by: robin | Sep 22 2021 10:38 utc | 220

@ Cyril & Oriental Voice:

# 102 I wrote: A full Japanese victory over the US navy in the Pacific would have given China, India, Australia etc. longer wars.

This was about a Pearl Harbor comment. The Japanese army never battled on mainland Australia like in India; their Andaman islands where occupied. If India's casualty count there was trivial than Australia's was close to zero. A full Japanese navy victory in the Pacific would have resulted in much more battles on Indian soil, specially in Assam where the Japanese were eyeing the oilfields. Wouldn't the Japanese army have landed in Northern Australia for some minerals or bases? US supplies to China over the Himalayan hump would have also been delayed.

India didn't exist pre-WWII? Ok, than neither did China.

Posted by: Antonym | Sep 22 2021 11:13 utc | 221

Amerikastan may use these subs to blockade the Straits of Malacca, which I have long been saying would be blockaded (along with maybe Gibraltar and the straits between Sweden and Denmark, whatever they're called)

The assumption of the AUKUS war planners is their bases will be able to operate without hindrance in the event of war.

This is no longer the case. In the event of conventional war, the first objective of the Asian powers will be destruction of NATO /AUKUS navies and their bases, and destruction of the airforces of those powers and their bases. This will be accomplished via strikes from long range hypersonic missiles and glide vehicles. The second objective will be destruction of oil refineries, oil storage depots, and pipeline pumping stations. Third will be destruction of electricity sub-stations.

The above will be accomplished within the first hours of the conflict.

Of course, ships at sea, and in particular, subs at sea and submerged, will survive longer. Surface vessels will likely be sunk within the first day or so. Subs can survive for weeks, provided they don't attack anything or surface, thus giving their position(s) away. However, the Asian powers are assiduously working on means to track submerged submarines via satellite.

Current activities of NED and it's subsidiaries, indicate that the preferred means of countering the Asian powers will be subversion. That was the cause of unrest in HK, cause of militancy in Taiwan, and cause of the recent events in Myammar. The CPC/PRC studied those events, and figured out how to counter them. The consequences in HK are obvious. Myammar will take longer.

The PRC came to modus vivendi(s) with Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. They are working on same with Indonesia, Solomons, PNG, Fiji, Tonga, Nauru, Cook Is., Philippines. Philippines will be hardest nut to crack. Means in every case is trade and economic development.

The Laos-China railway is in the testing phase, with test trains operating system wide. The incipient Myammar-China rail corridor is running freight on highways China built, which will be followed by rail freight when the railway is built. Meanwhile, trade links are operative, and economic benefits are flowing. All the ASEAN countries and Pacific countries can see this, as it is obvious.

In contrast, everyone can see that the Anglo-Saxon countries offer nothing but strife.

This sub deal is a tempest in a teapot. Australia cut an excellent deal with Kokkums/SAAB with custom designed AIP SSKs, technology transfer, and should have gone back to them for updated SSKs under similar terms to the original deal. The French program was a bridge too far. The AUKUS program is a bridge to never never...


Posted by: George W Oprisko | Sep 22 2021 11:55 utc | 222

On ZH this morning.

"French Senate Delegation To Visit Taiwan, Despite Chinese Regime's Opposition"

So much for France not doing the master's bidding.

Posted by: arby | Sep 22 2021 14:19 utc | 223


you completely ignore my challenge to you at #139

you fucking troll - go back to whatever government funded hole you crept out of and stop trying to appear as some sort of credible commenter on this site

Posted by: m | Sep 22 2021 17:21 utc | 224

Seems someone has been burned by chinese policy -

Posted by: jared | Sep 22 2021 17:50 utc | 225

@225 Sounds like Rupert is still upset with his ex-wife. Let's hope he has better luck with Jerry Hall.

Posted by: dh | Sep 22 2021 18:41 utc | 226

'Patroklos you are much to unfair to your own people. You call them criminals, but they are also called convicts. Convicted for what crimes, against who? The people of Australia are kind and warm, your comments are to harsh.

Posted by: Fernando Conrado Mar | Sep 23 2021 14:16 utc | 227

@ Posted by: Antonym, 208 and 209

You are engaged in false moral equivalences.

Akhand Bharat calls for Indian colonization of nations from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Bangladesh to Myanmar to Sri Lanka to parts of China (Tibet).

Claiming that existing parts of China (like Hong Kong and Macao and Tibet) are similar to Akhand Bharat is disingenuous.

By your logic, India's occupation of Kashmir (where there are over half a million Indian troops stationed); its tenuous rule over rebellious lands like Assam, Nagaland, Bodoland, and Khalistan; and its annexation of Sikkim as a protectorate would be even more relevant examples of Indian "imperial takeover."

Regarding Taiwan, China wants reunification with it--without resorting to war, except as an absolute last resort. The USA and its Quad members, however, are interested in utilizing it as a geopolitical stick to provoke China, similar to how the USA is using Ukraine against Russia. Taiwan is to be America's unsinkable aircraft carrier, as Gen. Douglas McArthur once put it.

As for the South China Sea, Taiwan has made very similar claims that parallel China's claims in this region and indeed many other nations have built military installations in the region--before China significantly did so. Yet one never hears about this. That is a clear example of "super double standards."

Finally, equating the fascistic BJP (and its proxy, the RSS) with the ruling parties in Pakistan and especially China is also disingenuous--particularly given that the communist party in China came to power by fighting against Japanese fascism before and during World War 2 and that fascism itself has been significantly based on ideological anti-Communism no less!

You do understand that "fascism" is not the same thing as "authoritarianism", nationalism, Communism, or military rule, right?

Posted by: ak74 | Sep 23 2021 16:29 utc | 228

If leasing nuclear-powered submarines does not infringe the nuclear non-proliferation pact, what is Iran waiting for?

Posted by: passerby | Sep 24 2021 9:51 utc | 229

A French diplomatic view of this sudden Aussie turn around:

Posted by: Antonym | Sep 25 2021 2:49 utc | 230

@ AK47 228
The original meaning of Fascism is from Italy after WWI: single leader government massively colluding with privately run industries. Belief in violence, disbelief in legal processes, rabid nationalism. No opposition allowed; complete state control of every phase of human activity. Fostering the idea that the party and the state were one and the same.

Posted by: Antonym | Sep 25 2021 2:57 utc | 231

PTI: Politics of intolerance :

Posted by: Antonym | Sep 25 2021 14:05 utc | 232

Ha ha ha! Yeah, Right was on the right track with his remarks about Scum Mo in this thread.

Ex-Oz PM, Malcolm Turnbull was the guest speaker on today's National Press Club Address. He was there to criticise Scum Mo, aka Mr Glib, and his handling of the AUKUS deal.
He virtually described Mr Glib as a sleazy, lying, untrustworthy half-wit, and a pathetic excuse for a leader. What made it particularly enjoyable was that he was right about Scum Mo, but Malcolm, although infinitely more erudite wasn't a much better excuse for a leader of a Sovereign Country, overall.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 29 2021 16:40 utc | 233

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