Former Australian prime minister Paul Keating had some acidic words for President Biden while slamming the new nuclear submarine deal between the U.S., U.K., and Australia, asserting the U.S. military can’t beat a bunch of Taliban rebels in pickup trucks.
Keating contends that the agreement represents a further “dramatic loss of Australian sovereignty.” He questioned the wisdom of Australia binding itself to the United States to counter China militarily.
“If the US military with all its might could not beat a bunch of Taliban rebels with AK-47s rifles in pickup trucks, what chance would it have in a full-blown war with China, not only the biggest state in the world but the occupant and commander of the biggest land mass in Asia?” Keating asked in a caustic letter lambasting the deal.
“When it comes to conflict, particularly among great powers, land beats water every time,” he noted. “It has to be remembered that China is a continental power and the United States is a naval power. And that the United States supply chain to East Asia would broadly need to span the whole Pacific from its base in San Diego and other places along the American west coast. Australia, by the announced commitments, would find itself hostage to any such a gambit.”
Statement from Paul Keating on the submarine deal pic.twitter.com/FIqEwMWe8q
— Laura Tingle (@latingle) September 16, 2021
Previously, Keating has been a huge critic of Australia’s overreliance on the U.S. He believes they should focus more on diplomatic relationships in south-east Asia, particularly with China. That is hard to fathom considering the growing threat from China not only to Australia but to the entire world.
“The foreign policy of Australia is basically we have tag-along rights to the US, and … certainly since I left public office … in years since, we’ve had more or less a tag-along foreign policy,” he argued in an interview with ABC’s “7:30 Report” in 2016. “It’s time to cut the tag. It’s time to get out of it.”
The agreement was announced on Wednesday by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, President Joe Biden, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The pact involves the creation of an enhanced trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS” which entails sharing highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology with Australia.
“As the first initiative under AUKUS, recognizing our common tradition as maritime democracies, we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy,” the White House proclaimed. “Today, we embark on a trilateral effort of 18 months to seek an optimal pathway to deliver this capability. We will leverage expertise from the United States and the United Kingdom, building on the two countries’ submarine programs to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.”
(Video Credit: Forbes Breaking News)
France is furious after they were not included in the agreement.
President Biden fawningly referred to France as having a “substantial Indo-Pacific presence” and as a “key partner and ally in strengthening the security and prosperity of the region.” That was a nod that admitted France was left out of the deal but was still in the club when it comes to the Indo-Pacific region.
“The United States looks forward to working closely with France and other key countries as we go forward,” Biden declared.
French Minister Of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-yves Le Drian and Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly issued a statement on Wednesday claiming the pact “is contrary to the letter and spirit of the cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of political trust as well as on the development of a very high-level defence industrial and technological base in Australia.”
“The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, whether in terms of our values or in terms of respect for multilateralism based on the rule of law, shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret,” the statement added.
(Video Credit: Sky News Australia)
“The regrettable decision that has just been announced regarding the FSP program only reinforces the need to make the issue of European strategic autonomy loud and clear,” the joint statement asserted. “There is no other credible way to defend our interests and our values in the world, including in the Indo-Pacific.”
France also noted that it is the “only European nation present in the Indo-Pacific with nearly two million citizens and more than 7,000 military personnel.”
On Thursday, Morrison defended the decision and remarked that he understands it’s disappointing for France. “As a prime minister I must make decisions that are in Australia’s national security,” Morrison stated. “I know that France would do the same.”
Today, Australia begins an enhanced trilateral security partnership with the UK and the US to enable deeper cooperation on security and defence capabilities. This is an historic opportunity for our countries to strengthen our nations’ security in uncertain times. #AUKUS
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) September 15, 2021
French officials are furious over the deal because it means that their $90 billion submarine contract with Australia’s government that France won in 2016 has been nixed in favor of the United States. Australia has already spent $1.8 billion on the project, according to Axios.
The Chinese also spoke out against the agreement as expected.
“Exchanges and cooperation between countries should help expand mutual understanding and trust,” the Chinese Embassy in the US announced in a statement. “Countries should do more things that are conducive to solidarity and cooperation among countries and regional peace and stability. Meanwhile, they should not build exclusionary blocs targeting or harming the interests of third parties. In particular, they should shake off their Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice.”
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