men standing over an open hatch of a submarine
0 10 mins 3 mths
0 0
Read Time:7 Minute, 6 Second

Australia has a lousy record when it comes to submarines. It seems submarines bring out the worst in our defence force and our national security aspirations. Hugh White hoists up AUKUS white flag in recent essay. Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at ANU, Hugh White knows a thing or two about this topic and Australian national security capabilities. Younger Aussies may not remember our ongoing challenges with the Collins class submarines. They may not be au fait with our dalliance with the French in regard to supplying us with submarines pre-AUKUS. The Japanese were in the running there for a while too. Basically, submarines and Australia have a perpetually sinking relationship, it seems.

Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS - Hugh White Hoists Up AUKUS White Flag
Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS by U.S. Forest Service (source) is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Lies, Scotty, AUKUS & The Anglosphere

Scott Morrison, the former PM was celebrated in 2021 for striking a deal with the Americans and the British to supply little old Australia with nuclear submarines. Australia has proudly been a firmly non-nuclear state for the entirety of its short independent life. So, it was somewhat surprising that nuclear subs would be put on the table and signed off on without any discussion or public debate. Scott the celebrated liar, who seriously pissed off the French President Macron over this about-face, was seen gladhanding Boris with the messy hair and President Biden in photo shoots near these sleek underwater boats. This was a much lauded return of the Anglosphere and we were loading up on some apex predator weapons to shake in the face of big bad China.

The Aussie Submarine Syndrome & AUKUS

A closer inspection of the details and timelines did confirm that we would not actually get any submarines until the mid to late 2030’s. In fact, we would not receive the ones we would be building probably until the 2060’s. Australia would be relying on picking up one or two second hand subs from the Yanks, if they could spare them because they were running pretty low on them for their own defence needs. Yes, the deal was costing around $360 billion and guarantees were a bit thin on the ground when it came to getting actual submarines.

Free submarine ocean image

Not The Clever Country & Luck Won’t Cut It

Submarines are seriously expensive pieces of high tech military hardware. Nuclear submarines are at another level of complexity again from our existing fleet of ageing diesel powered Collins subs. Australia does not have a great record when it comes to managing and developing these kinds of things. Hugh White has grave fears that our Royal Australian Navy is just not up to the job. We do not have enough submariners now and we definitely do not have the technical skills or workforce to meet the demands of AUKUS. Yes, there are years ahead to find what is required but it will be no simple task. The challenges facing us are enormous and a hell of a lot of things are going to have to go right. Unfortunately, submarines and Oz have a lousy track record together and things going right traditionally do not happen.

Australia Has Not Invested In High Tech Manufacturing

Australia has taken the easy option when it comes to our economy and the demise of the local manufacturing sector. The LNP Coalition government pulled the pin on our car manufacturing industry and a lot of skills were lost then and there. These decisions have long terms consequences for the future of our kids and the knowledge basis within the nation. We, as a nation have not invested in high tech manufacturing. We have been all too willing to take the cheaper option of letting some other country do the complicated stuff and we would just buy it off them. What this does is not invest in the minds and skillsets of our people. Governments and Australian business have not invested strongly in research and development. You cannot go in this direction for decades and then just turn around and say we are going to build nuclear submarines – it is completely unrealistic. You cannot just flick a switch! It takes decades and massive investment to be able to realistically take on a project like AUKUS. You have to build a foundation of highly skilled people who know what they are doing and this takes many, many years.

textile australian flag with crumples
Photo by vectors icon on Pexels.com

Post Colonial Pipe Dreams In East Asia

Professor White wonders why we want to resurrect the Anglo trinity after such a long period of time. Britain have not been in our neck of the woods since the fall of Singapore in WW2. He thinks it is further fantasy to think that we will, along with the US rule the waves of East Asia in the 21C. The world is a changing place, the rise of China is being joined by the rise of India economically, and Indonesia will similarly rise by 2050. These nations with huge populations will be the dominant powers in this region. It is a pipe dream to think that America will maintain its hegemony in East Asia. Why are we investing massive amounts of money in these submarines? They are not really going to defend our sovereign borders. Rather, they are designed to assist the US in policing the South China Sea and keeping China penned in.

The British Neptune riding Triumphant

Trump 2.0 Will Sink AUKUS

If Trump regains the presidency all AUKUS bets are off, anyway. Trump is an isolationist and won’t be selling any nuclear subs to far flung Australia. Hugh White reckons we would be better off investing all that money in new generation non-nuclear subs – we will get a lot more submarines for our buck. We require a fleet of submarines, not one or two nuclear submarines, and the time frames for AUKUS are ridiculous. We are leaving ourselves undefended for decades because the Collins subs are at the end of their lives, as we speak. Submarines by their very nature are often in dry dock getting fixed, which means that you need at least 6 to have 2 operational at any one time. AUKUS is a pipe dream and it will not happen. We are wasting large amounts of money on it now and it will never happen. To be harsh the genesis of AUKUS is born of the post pandemic trauma, where nations realised that they are too dependent upon other countries for essential supply chains. When the shit hits the fan you don’t want to be reliant on places far away for what you really need. AUKUS is, also, a manifestation of that old white supremacist colonial powers in Asia mentality – which is another reason why it is not based in reality. Remember Bob Hawke and Paul Keating telling us that we are a part of Asia? Well, we are; and it is time for the LNP hawks to realise that Britain is not ever going to save us and America is only a 50/50 bet at best. We need to focus on defending our own borders and not building our defence policy around America. We want to be good strategic partners with those nations in our region. Even more, we want to, also, emphasise our excellent diplomatic relations with China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and all the nations in SE Asia. Talk quietly and carry a big stick – is a sound foreign relations approach. Let’s carry our own big stick rather than Americas.

Brand New Release!!!

“The latest issue of Australian Foreign Affairs examines Australia’s momentous decision to form a security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom that includes an ambitious, expensive and risky plan to acquire nuclear-power submarines – a move that will have far-reaching military and strategic consequences.

Dead in the Water looks at whether the AUKUS deal will enhance or undermine Australia’s security as tensions between China and the US rise, at the impact on Australia’s ties with its regional neighbours, and at whether the submarines plan is likely to ever be achieved.”

Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom. 

©MidasWord

submarine in harbor
Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Pexels.com
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %