September 16, 2021

A Profound Move for Both Canberra and Washington

By Richard Fontaine

Diplomacy’s acronym-laden parlance now has a brand new entrant. Three anglophone leaders – Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and, in Biden’s appellation, “that fella Down Under” – have teamed up to launch AUKUS.

A co-operative security partnership, AUKUS reflects Washington’s emphasis on Indo-Pacific allies, London’s desire to tilt eastwards and Canberra’s aim of strengthening its defence partnerships.

Without meat on the new bones, however, the AUKUS rollout might have marked a well-meaning but fairly inconsequential prelude to this week’s similarly named AUSMIN ministerial talks. In their joint announcement, the leaders committed themselves to working together across broad areas such as technology, supply chains, and industrial bases.

AUKUS and the submarine deal make a profound diplomatic point about how Washington weighs Canberra’s importance.

So far, so ho-hum. But then came the centerpiece: the United States would, for the first time in seven decades, assist another country in fielding a nuclear-powered submarine fleet. That country would be Australia.

It’s a big step, one that goes far beyond the important but everyday collaboration that typically characterizes the US-Australia alliance. Indeed, the nuclear-powered submarine effort represents a major step on both defense and diplomatic fronts.

Read the full article from the Australian Financial Review.

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