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The submarine row that is sinking diplomatic relations

13 12 6

The three-way pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States to build four new submarines, nuclear propelled but not nuclear armed, for delivery in about four years’ time for the Australian Navy, may or may not alter the strategic balance in Southeast Asia and the South Seas. Time will tell.

But the deal certainly takes first prize for diplomatic ineptitude and the creation of bad feelings all round.

France is furious that its plan to supply the four vessels, already far advanced, has been swept aside by the new pact. Ambassadors have been recalled from both Washington and Canberra.

Canada feels left out of the pact as well and Japan has the right to feel the same way. The Chinese, predictably, see it all as a revival of the Cold War, although they have only themselves to blame. The Americans are caught up in an anti-China crusade, maybe to compensate for the Afghan fiasco, and with a leadership obsession in South Asia that belongs to the past.

The U.K. is tagging along with the United States, but is paying a fearful price in damage to cross-Channel relations when a renewed close link — a new entente — with its old ally France has been a primary goal following the break with the European Union as a whole. The Commonwealth dimension to the plan, which it would have paid the U.K. to emphasize, also seems to have been overlooked.

NATO has also taken a hit, with leading European countries regarding the pact as one more sign that trans-Atlantic links are fraying, since........

© The Japan Times

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