By Fiona Edwards
The formation of the new military alliance between the US, Australia and Britain – Aukus – represents a serious escalation of the new cold war against China and therefore increases international tensions and threats to peace.
This new alliance, which will see Britain and the US furnish Australia with the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, is a belligerent force that threatens peace and stability in the Pacific region.
The formation of Aukus comes at a time of increasing US hostility towards China. Following its humiliation in Afghanistan, the US is stepping up its military focus on China.
The US is clearly moving on from the catastrophic “War on Terror” in order to concentrate on what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described as the US’s “greatest geopolitical test” – stopping China’s rise and maintaining US global dominance in the 21st century. Therefore the US new cold war against China is heating up.
It is important to note that the military pact consists of only three countries and does not even include many of the US’s closest Western allies.
France has denounced the pact as its contract to supply submarines to Australia has been torn up in consequence.
New Zealand is not participating in the pact and its no-nuclear policy means Australian nuclear-powered submarines will be banned from New Zealand’s ports and waters.
The creation of this new military alliance has received widespread criticism and condemnation internationally.
Despite the obvious narrow and internationally unpopular character of this new military pact – Ausuk represents a small minority of humanity – it is important that the anti-war movement and progressives across the world do not underestimate the continuing power of the US militarily and its capacity to destroy entire countries and destabilise whole regions of world. Now is the time to step up our efforts to build and strengthen an anti-war majority internationally.
The US militarisation of the Pacific
The US militarisation of the Pacific region has been a growing trend since US president Obama initiated the Pivot to Asia in 2012.
The US currently has 400 military bases surrounding China and President Biden has this year this requested a military budget of $753 billion, primarily focused on upgrading US military capabilities with new high-tech weaponry aimed at overpowering China.
The Committee for a Sane US-China Policy points out that Biden’s 2022 budget request “calls for a Pentagon-wide effort to prepare for full-scale war with the People’s Republic of China. Unlike in past years when the armed forces were expected to prepare for a multitude of threats – ranging from terrorist strikes to regional conflicts in the Middle East and Asia – this year’s budget request subordinates all other such concerns to the overriding task of confronting the PRC.”
The discussions taking place at the leadership level of the US military are particularly concerning.
The Head of US Strategic Command, Admiral Charles Richard, wrote in an article in a military journal in January 2021: “There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons” and that the US “must shift its principal assumption from ‘nuclear employment is not possible’ to ‘nuclear employment is a very real possibility’ and act to meet and deter that reality.”
It is in this context that the new Aukus alliance, including its nuclear component, must be viewed.
The US administration has a clear agenda to recruit allies to support its militarisation of the Pacific.
In addition to the Aukus pact with Australia and Britain, the US has engaged India, Japan and Australia in the “Quad” – a strategic dialogue aimed at creating a diplomatic and military alliance to “counter” China.
Japan is currently conducting its biggest military exercises in nearly 30 years in a move also directed against China.
Whilst the US has managed to recruit only a small number of countries to support its military build-up against China, it remains the case that the US military is extremely powerful.
In 2020 the US spent more on “defence” than the next 11 countries combined and now the US is gearing up for a new cold war on China by investing heavily in upgrading its weapons.
International opposition to the new cold war is growing
The stepping up of this US aggression against China is being met with growing international opposition as more progressive forces speak out against this threatening new cold war.
Significant political figures in both Australia and Britain immediately condemned the new Aukus military alliance.
Paul Keating, former prime minister of Australia, characterised the agreement as a “further dramatic loss of Australian sovereignty” and warned that “if the United States military with all its might could not beat a bunch of Taliban rebels with AK-47 rifles in pickup trucks, what chance would it have in a full-blown war against China, not only the biggest state in the world but the commander and occupant of the largest land mass in Asia?”
Former leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn also spoke out against Aukus, stating that “starting a new cold war will not will bring peace, justice and human rights to the world.”
Meanwhile in the global South, opposition to the cold war is even more pronounced as governments and mass forces representing tens of millions of people favour “win-win” co-operation with China as a welcome alternative to US diktats.
In Latin America for example, progressive forces are prioritising mutually beneficial relations with China because China offers Latin American countries vaccines, trade, investment and respect for sovereignty.
This is a welcome alternative to the US coups, destabilisation campaigns and economic warfare which continue to cause great human suffering in Latin America today.
The response of João Pedro Stedile – the leader of the Landless Workers Movement which is the biggest social movement in Latin America – to Aukus’s formation is indicative of the Latin American left’s attitude towards the new cold war.
He tweeted: “Biden announces strategic plan to contain China: construction of dozens of nuclear submarines with the United Kingdom and Australia.
“While they spend on weapons, China pursues its strategic vision by fighting poverty, inequality and integrating countries on the Silk Road. The Biden government is nothing, it is just an expression of the interests of imperialist capital. Weapon makers are grateful.”
It is vital that progressive forces all across the world unite together to oppose US-led militarism in the Pacific region and the threat this poses to not just China but to all of humanity.
The world needs global co-operation to tackle the shared threats of the pandemic and climate change, not a new cold war.
Sign the No Cold War founding statement, which was launched in July 2020 to rally international opposition to the US-led new cold war: www.nocoldwar.org.
Fiona Edwards is a member of the international organising committee of the No Cold War campaign.
The above article was originally published here by the Morning Star.