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Why AUKUS is a game changer in the Indo-Pacific

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AUKUS puts the stamp on three overriding geopolitical verities in the emerging regional and global order.

First, it signifies the firming belief by the leading Anglosphere democracies that China as a formidable comprehensive national power has displaced a severely diminished Russia as the principal strategic competitor. Second, it acknowledges that the strategic rivalry has pivoted from the North Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific. Third, nuclear propulsion for the navy will signify the greatest projection of Australian military power into the Indo-Pacific region. The ramifications of these developments will reverberate for decades.

AUKUS is both an acknowledgment of and a concession to the loss of U.S. strategic primacy. Under the George W. Bush administration, the U.S. policy goal was to prevent any power from being able to dominate its own region. That is now well and truly history.

Suddenly the Biden administration’s stated justification for the shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan — to be able to better focus on the strategic rivalry and trade competition with China — becomes more credible and takes on new meaning. China and other interested bystanders around the Indo-Pacific will once again have to quickly re-calibrate assessments of the U.S. ability and will to remain a powerful presence and actor in the region.

AUKUS caught even seasoned military observers and security analysts by surprise. It involves wide security, defense industry, hi-tech, cyber- and digital-warfare issues that tie Australia in a “forever partnership” with the U.S. It is both a strategic bet on a fundamental reorientation of American attention and resources from the North Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific as the real theater of geopolitical contest in the emerging but as yet inchoate global order. And it is also a step-change in........

© The Japan Times

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