“The AUKUS military pact is an outdated approach to international relations. These actions are not designed to create a more stable, peaceful world.”
By the Labour Outlook Team.
Following the joint announcement by the White House, Downing St and the Australian Government that the three states would enter into a new nuclear-sharing military alliance that would equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, figures on the left in the participating countries, and further afield, have condemned the escalation of tension in the Pacific.
Key voices in the UK’s peace movement, set out that the US strategic ‘Pivot to Asia’, endorsed by Obama and Trump before Biden, and demonstrated by the new announcement, would escalate rivalry and risk of conflict with China.
CND’s Kate Hudson said it, “looks more likely to massively ramp up tension in the region at a time when cooperation with China – in the run up to COP26 to deal with the climate emergency – should be top of the agenda.”
In response to Boris Johnson’s claim that the AUKUS agreement does not contravene the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Hudson said, “The NPT does not stop the exchange of civil nuclear technology but it stipulates it must be ‘for peaceful purposes’. Sending war-fighting subs to potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific region is hardly that. This is yet another breach of international law by our government, hard on the heels of the nuclear arsenal increase.”
Stop the War Coalition said in a press release, “the new partnership as an unnecessary and provocative step which will heighten tensions with China and increase the possibility of hostilities breaking out in the region.”
This condemnation has been echoed by parliamentarians and political leaders in the UK and in Australia as former Australian Labor leaders Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd expressed concerns, just as former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did the same.
In the UK, Labour’s former leader Jeremy Corbyn set out his own rejection of the AUKUS agreement, saying, “starting a new cold war will not bring peace, justice and human rights to the world.”
He added, “International opposition to AUKUS reflects a growing understanding that real security won’t come from starting a new nuclear weapons race or new Cold War. Real security will come from international co-operation to tackle the global crises of our time.”
Socialist Campaign Group Secretary, Richard Burgon, said, “A new Cold War will see vast resources being poured into rising military budgets and will undermine the global cooperation the world needs right now to tackle the climate public health, poverty and inequality crises.”
One of Labour’s 2019 intake MPs, the anti-war campaigner Beth Winter, said, “The AUKUS military pact is an outdated approach to international relations. These actions are not designed to create a more stable, peaceful world, but for the US and UK to throw their weight around. We must avoid another cold war, and instead build international co-operation.”
Former Australian Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating said that the agreements amounts “to a lock-in of Australian military equipment and thereby forces, with those of the US with only one objective: the ability to act collectively in any military engagement by the US against China”.
He further stated that “this arrangement would witness a further dramatic loss of Australian sovereignty, as material dependency on the US robbed Australia of any freedom or choice in any engagement Australia may deem appropriate.”
Criticising US military capability, he said, “If the United States military with all its might could not beat a bunch of Taliban rebels with AK47 rifles in pickup trucks, what chance would it have in a full blown war against China, not only the biggest state in the world but the commander and occupant of the largest land mass in Asia?”
Another former Australian Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, asked for assurance there would be no risk of expectation from allies that the submarines would later on be nuclear-armed or the agreement could result in ‘porting’ US nuclear-armed submarines.
He also asked for clarity on whether they could be deployed in the midst of a conflict with China in the Pacific and expressed concern about Australia’s nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments.
Current New Zealand Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern set out how her country would not support the development, making clear, “all partners are well versed and very clear on our position on nuclear powered vessels and also nuclear weapons. Our legislation means no vessels that are partially or fully powered by nuclear energy is able to enter our internal borders.”
As the new agreement is subject to further scrutiny, Labour members are encouraged to question the US ‘Pivot to Asia’ and ask why the US and UK is seeking to bolster Australian military capability in the Pacific.
Activists are encouraged to support Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Stop the War Coalition, and show solidarity with anti-war campaigners in the US and Australia.