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The Aukus Submarine Crisis Take II, Triumph of the British

The fallout over the secret Aukus negotiations between US, UK and Australia continues. But a winner has emerged.
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Stab in the Back

Aukus Deal Background

In secret negotiations called Aukus, the US, UK and Australia agreed to intensify their collaboration on key technologies like artificial intelligence, cyber, quantum, underwater systems, and long-range strike capabilities.

As part of that deal, Australia agreed to buy 12 nuclear submarines from the US. The problem is Australia had long ago agreed to buy them from France, in what France called the deal of the century for its manufacturing.

Things split wide open in the last two days over the cancellation. Yesterday, I commented France Accuses US and Australia of Stab In the Back Over Submarine Deal

In an unprecedented action France recalls its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia. The move marked the first time that France recalled its ambassador to the U.S. in their nearly two and half centuries of diplomatic relations.

Aukus Regret, No Apology

Today The Guardian offers further commentary on the Aukus Rift.

The Australians have expressed regret over the French decision, but have offered no apology.

European diplomats are bemused. They thought that with the advent of Joe Biden in the White House, the diplomatic experts were back in charge after the chaos, rudeness and unpredictability of Donald Trump – though at least Trump insulted his allies in the open on Twitter or to their face. “Joe Biden, it seems, uses one hand to greet you, and the other to stab you in the back. It is quite audacious,” said one.

 Sir Simon Fraser, a former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, captured the mood among many diplomats, saying on Twitter: “The Biden foreign policy team, which was seen as reassuringly professional and experienced, now look surprisingly clumsy and tin-eared in its miscommunication with its allies.”

Asked what she thought of her administration’s transatlantic bridge-building at a Chatham House event on Friday, Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat House speaker, seemed oblivious to there being a problem.

US Blames Australia

Embarrassed US state department officials initially claimed the French had been informed of the contract’s cancellation; unable to produce any supporting evidence, however, they weakly suggested that they thought it was for the Australians to inform the French. “They [the Australians] told us they would take care of dealing with the French,” one US official told the New York Times. This casts America in the role of a bystander that fortuitously happened to benefit from the French naval group’s inability to deliver a contract on time and to specification.

From the French perspective, this is simply not credible. The US talks to cancel the submarine contract went on for months in utmost secrecy. At the G7 meeting in Cornwall, Macron was given no hint that the Australians were about to scupper the deal. Three days later, the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, saw Macron and left him with the impression that Australia felt reassured that technical aspects of the contract including delays, cost overruns could be resolved.

Biden's Impeccable Timing

The Aukus pact was announced the day before the EU was to unveil its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy, and the week before Biden was due to speak to the UN general assembly, the Royal Ascot of diplomacy. If his China policy is about building a network of alliances against Beijing, the US president has a strange way of constructing those alliances.

Triumph of the British

From the British perspective, this is a triumph. Many diplomats had predicted the UK would become less important to the US once it had left the EU, since it had acted as the bridge between Washington and Brussels. That looks less true now. The Australian right is delighted because it has always seen Brexit as a path to a closer relationship with the British.

At What Cost?

Any bets on the real cost of this program?

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Hint, they do want to build them in Australia, not exactly known to be cheap, but also with no nuclear submarine building expertise 

US Foreign Policy Circus Continues 

The proper conclusion from all of this is the US foreign policy circus continues. 

There is a change though. 

Instead of openly belligerent Tweets with Trump demanding the spotlight, we have secret deals and back stabbings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congress in general oblivious to everything.

The UK, which the EU thought would be relegated to background noise following Brexit, emerged as the big winner from this mess. 

Ironically, this outcome is exactly what Trump wanted! 

Submarine Gap

Mineshaft Gap Dr. Strangelove

Mr. President we must not allow a submarine gap!

There's always a gap isn't there?

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