The Guardian • Issue #2097

AUKUS boosters start to doubt

  • by FK
  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2097
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Placard "Stop AUKUS WA, no nuclear subs, peace not war." Fight Climate Change Not War speak out and march Fremantle.

Fans of unintentional humour could do a lot worse then head over to ‘The Strategist,’ the website/journal of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), and check out an article called “Start thinking now about alternatives to AUKUS Pillar 1.” ASPI is a Defence and Defence Industries-funded lobby group/think tank set up by the Howard Liberal-National government in 2001. It remorselessly argues for more weapons and a warlike posture towards China. ASPI is casting some doubt on the AUKUS nuclear submarine program.

Naturally, they’re not questioning the need for Australia to be a cog in the USA’s global war machine, or the supposedly threat posed by China, a country with exactly one military base outside its borders. However ASPI is having doubts about AUKUS. The article points out that:

“the prospective costs are enormous and have been badly underestimated”

No kidding.

“industrial capacity is inadequate for the tasks of building and supporting a nuclear fleet”

That sounds like a good thing.

the program “lacks a powerful leader”.

We’re not crazy about Australia’s leadership either, and it’s true that Prime Ministers and Defence Ministers have been playing Pass the Parcel with our submarine program for literally decades, but someone powerful enough to force a seriously bad idea through is not on our wish list.

“armed with ‘only conventional weapons,’ the planned fleet of eight nuclear powered submarines would have minimal deterrent value on Chinese perceptions”

These “perceptions” would be what exactly, ASPI?

The article doesn’t say anything more about the mysterious Chinese perceptions, but this point is a strong hint that we should get nuclear weapons to go with our nuclear-powered submarines, just like Labor (who, as the government, partly fund ASPI) promised us wouldn’t happen. Oh, and later on, we’re invited to consider China as a “possibly existential threat.”

The article then tells us, as if we didn’t know, that the US is flat-out trying to build the nuclear-powered submarines that they want, so it’ll be hard for them to build more for us.

With masterful understatement, we are told that the questions of huge cost overruns in the Australian nuclear submarine program “may not have been fully considered.” Anti-AUKUS groups, and the Guardian – The Workers’ Weekly have been shouting this one from the rooftops.

The piece doesn’t want to “cast fundamental doubts” on AUKUS, but it seems that they’ve cast some very fundamental doubts on it anyway, by repeating criticisms of AUKUS that the Guardian has been making since Scott Morrison first announced this wasteful and dangerous idea. We can only thank whoever it was who bought ASPI a Guardian subscription for Christmas.

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