Tag Archives: Australia

BJP India and Academic Freedom in Oz

Further to this 2020 post,

What is India to be under Modi and the BJP?

now an article at The Diplomat; the author makes an almost impassioned plea against Realpolitik, especially in academia:

What an Academic Freedom Debate Says About Australia-India Relations

A group of fellows at the University of Melbourne’s Australia India Institute recently resigned, alleging restrictions on their academic freedom.

By Grant Wyeth

There is palpable emerging intimacy between Australia and India. This includes a recently signed new trade deal — the first India has signed with a developed country in over a decade — strengthening security ties, major investment from Australia in India, and expanding people-to-people links, including India now being Australia’s largest source of migrants. Yet this burgeoning relationship is not progressing without its controversies. 

In recent weeks a group of 13 academics who were fellows at the Australia India Institute (AII) based at the University of Melbourne collectively resigned their affiliations, claiming that restrictions were being placed on their academic freedom and alleging interference from the Indian High Commission in Canberra [emphasis added]. The group also expressed concerns that the institute was prioritizing the bilateral relationship over academic research. 

The AII was established in 2008 with a $6 million grant from the federal government, and continues to receive funding from both the federal and Victorian state governments, as well as from the University of Melbourne and private donors. It is currently the only center in Australia that is dedicated exclusively to the study of India, understanding the relationship between India and Australia, and supporting the relationship between the two countries. 

Yet it is within this mission where the institute is finding conflict. As a branch of the University of Melbourne, academic inquiry should be its primary concern. Yet if the institute instead sees itself as a facilitator of the relationship between Australia and India, then research that may upset the current Indian government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) becomes problematic [emphasis added–this can be a problem with quite a few countries, e.g. the PRC, Saudi Arabia]. As the scholars wrote in their collective resignation letter: “As experts on India, we have doubts that [the AII’s] quasi-diplomatic focus is consistent with, and furthers, the mission of the University.”

One incident cited by the resigning group was the refusal by the AII to publish an article on the attempt to decapitate a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Melbourne. Within the wider Hindutva movement of the BJP there has been an attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of Gandhi’s assassin, Nathurum Godse. Rather than the driving moral force behind India’s independence movement, Gandhi is now seen by some Hindu nationalists as an appeaser of the country’s Muslim minority. It is this perspective that led to the attack on Gandhi’s statue [emphasis added].

Given that this issue is central to the modern contest over what kind of state India should be – a secular democracy with respect for all religious groups or one that privileges its Hindu majority and excludes, often violently, all others – and that agitation against Indian secularism had found an outlet within the diaspora, this should have been of critical importance to the AII. Instead, reluctance to publish the article suggests either a self-censoring instinct to tip-toe around the sensitivities of the BJP, or direct submission to its pressures. The article was subsequently published by Pursuit, a different University of Melbourne publication.

As highlighted by Dilpreet Kaur in South Asia Today, debate over Australia’s emerging relationship with India has been playing out within the pages of Australian Foreign Affairs magazine, with the University of Melbourne’s deputy vice chancellor (international) – and AII board member – Michael Wesley a central figure. In a recent issue of the publication, Wesley argued in an article titled “Pivot to India: Our next great and powerful friend?” that India is a natural partner for Australia with significant commonalities, and that the relationship should be primarily driven by maritime security in the Indian Ocean [emphasis added].  

In the following issue, Ian Woolford, lecturer in Hindi at La Trobe University, wrote a response saying that Wesley was overlooking the lack of compatibility that the BJP’s Hindutva ideology has with Australia’s liberal democracy, and that this may create a serious impediment to the relationship. In his own reply, Wesley asserted that Woolford “will wait a long time before Australia makes human rights or democracy a central plank of its foreign policy. One of the most consistent elements in Australian foreign policy is a willingness to overlook a foreign regime’s foibles if Australia has a strong interest in maintaining stable and positive relations [as do many countries, including Canada,in their bilateral relations with many governments–the policy question is how to weight the factors governing a relationship].”..

Academic freedom is not a luxury that can be swept aside if deemed to be inconvenient; it is a core national interest because its purpose is to advance knowledge so that societies can make better and more sophisticated decisions. Protecting the national interest is about being vigilant toward each critical component of liberal democratic society, and this is not the sole purview of governments — institutions like universities are equally as responsible. Liberalism requires constant practical upkeep. 

The grand irony of this episode is that Australia’s desire to forge stronger ties with India is due to a belief that this will help protect its liberal values – and therefore its national interest – from the challenge and degradation posed by authoritarian China. Yet what is clear now is that the relationship with the BJP’s India is starting to degrade those very same values and interests. 

Grant Wyeth is a Melbourne-based political analyst specializing in Australia and the Pacific, India and Canada.

Related posts:

India: The RSS, the Not-so Shadowy Body Behind PM Modi and the BJP’s Hindutva (Hindu Raj) Ideology

Modi/BJP Moving vs Press Freedom in India

Hindu Temple for Ayodhya, or, the Hindutva of PM Modi’s BJP (plus Kashmir)

Hindutva, or, the Modi/BJP Drive towards Hindu Raj Documented in Film

Modi, BJP, Hindutva, or, the Shrinking Indian Public Space

Bollywood’s Brief Streaming Freedom

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Holy Hoppin’ ‘Roo–Chinese Australian Named in Oz Senate at “Puppeteer” behind Election Interference

Further to this November 2020 post (PM Trudeau’s government has yet to present a plan to confront foreign influence/foreign interference activities in Canada),

What Canada can Learn from Australia’s Anti-Foreign influence/Interference Actions…

now we have quite the startling public development down under–hard to imagine anything like this happening in Canada–from the Sydney Morning Herald (Labor are the leftish federal party!):

Labor senator names businessman as ‘puppeteer’ behind foreign interference plot

By Anthony Galloway

One of Australia’s biggest political donors has been named in a Federal Parliament hearing as being the “puppeteer” behind a foreign interference plot to get political candidates elected in an upcoming Australian election.

Labor senator Kimberley Kitching used parliamentary privilege on Monday night to suggest to the head of ASIO – Australia’s counter-espionage agency – that the wealthy businessman behind the plot was Chinese-Australian property developer Chau Chak Wing.

Senator Kitching’s comments relate to a foreign interference plot to bankroll political candidates revealed by ASIO director-general Mike Burgess in his annual threat assessment last week. Mr Burgess has declined to name the country behind the operation and whether it was a federal, state or local election.

“I am reliably informed that the puppeteer mentioned in your case study in your annual threat assessment speech given last week is Chau Chak Wing,” Senator Kitching said in a Senate estimates hearing on Monday night. “I believe it to be Chau Chak Wing. Are you able to confirm that it is Chau Chak Wing?”

Mr Burgess declined to comment, saying: “Senator as I said before, I will not comment on speculation of who is and who isn’t targets, in general or in specific, as you are asking me there.”

Dr Chau is an Australian citizen originally from China, and has donated more than $4 million to Australia’s major political parties since 2004. He has also donated more than $45 million to Australian universities [emphasis added].

It is not the first time Dr Chau has been named in Parliament for his alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party. In 2018 Liberal [in fact the conservative party] MP Andrew Hastie named Dr Chau in parliament as being closely associated with the CCP’s lobbying arm, the United Front Work Department [emphasis added], and alleged he was a co-conspirator in an FBI bribery case [more here].

Last week, Mr Burgess said the foreign interference plot was run by a wealthy businessman with deep ties in both Australia and China, who was known to ASIO as “the puppeteer”. He said the wealthy individual covertly sought to advance the interests of a foreign power and undermine Australia’s sovereignty.

The candidates who were targeted had no knowledge of the wider plot to install them on behalf of a foreign government, Mr Burgess said.

He said the foreign country that attempted to interfere in Australia’s election process was now on high alert.

“I can confirm that ASIO ­recently detected and disrupted a foreign interference plot in the lead-up to an election in Australia,” he said in his speech last Wednesday night. “I’m not going to identify the jurisdiction because we are seeing attempts at foreign interference at all levels of government, in all states and territories.”

The wealthy individual hired another individual to enable foreign interference operations and used an offshore bank account to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars for operating expenses, Mr Burgess said last week.

“The employee hired by the puppeteer began identifying candidates likely to run in the election who either supported the interests of the foreign government or who were assessed as vulnerable to inducements and cultivation, [emphasis added]” he said. “The employee used existing relationships with politicians, staffers and journalists to select potential targets, without revealing the secret intent, the foreign connection or the puppeteer’s involvement.”

While the political candidates had no knowledge of the foreign interference plot, Mr Burgess said if ASIO hadn’t acted some of the candidates could have been elected and then encouraged to hire foreign agents or proxies as political staffers [emphasis added].

He said the new parliamentarians could then have been asked for information about the party’s position on defence policy, human rights, foreign investment or trade – with the information then sent to the foreign power.

But Mr Burgess made clear on Monday [Feb. 14] night that no current Labor candidates running in the federal election were of concern [emphasis added–can’t imagine any head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service being so open, even if it were true].

Labor leader Anthony Albanese last week said he had “total confidence in all of my candidates, and the Director-General of ASIO has never raised any concern about any of my candidates”.

“I wouldn’t normally talk about the conversations I have with anyone,” Mr Burgess said in Senate estimates on Monday night. “Mr Albanese, the leader of the Opposition, gave an accurate account of the conversation I had with him when he asked me that question.”

Yikes. I’d be willing to wager close to my bottom loonie that very similar things have been, and are, taking place in Canada–a post from October 2020:

The CCP’s United Front Work Department Infiltrating Canadian Politics at all Levels–then there’s Organized Crime and some Rogues’ Galleries

And see this January 11 Globe and Mail story (note PM Trudeau’s government itself stays mute):

Canada’s spy agency warns MPs to beware of influence operations from China

Very relevant recent posts on the Canadian situation–almost nothing being done seriously by this government to deal with the threat:

Did PM Trudeau Pay Heed to what Head of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said about PRC Interference in Canada?

Globe and Mail to PM Justin Trudeau Gov’t: Time to Get Real about Foreign Interference, esp. by PRC (note UPDATE)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Why Australia is Taken Seriously by the US and UK, Canada less and less (“irrelevant”?)

(Caption for photo of Australian drone at top of the post: “The Boeing ATS, developed in Australia, exploits artificial intelligence to achieve autonomy. Credit: Boeing.)”

Further to this post (do have a look for important background especially on Canada),

The Indo-Pacific, the Birth of AUKUS…and Canada (note “UPPERDATE”)

excerpts from a Dec. 15 article at Aviation Week and Space Technology:

Australia Joins U.S., Britain In Push For Technological High Ground

Bradley Perrett

Leaping ahead in strategic importance, Australia is entering the inner circle of UK and U.S. technological cooperation.

AUKUS, a “security partnership” created among the three countries in September, is starting out with five areas of technological collaboration. It will presumably move into more later.

*Nations will share cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum and undersea capabilities

*Australia is quietly avoiding economic reliance on China

Furthermore, Washington’s elevation of Australia to something like the status of the UK as a most trusted ally suggests Canberra will also gain wider access to U.S. technology that would formerly have been withheld {emphasis added: what? no Canada?].

Chinese aggression and the risk of war over Taiwan are driving this. Australia, in particular, has come to the fore because it is the only steadfast U.S. ally south of Japan. It has also been in the lead globally in resisting Chinese domestic intrusion, whether intended for political manipulation, espionage or gaining control of key infrastructure.

Moreover, Australia is making itself more useful to the U.S. with a rapid increase in defense spending, from 1.6% of GDP in the fiscal year to June 2013 to 2.1% in 2020-21 [way ahead of the Canadian percentage–and note the twist for our 2020-21 figure]. Further increases are likely. These are rising shares of an economy that tends to grow faster than the Western average, thanks to large-scale immigration.

The country’s location, beyond the reach of Chinese medium-range ballistic missiles, is also increasingly relevant to U.S. strategy. “In Australia, you’ll see new rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments, you’ll see ground forces training and increased logistics cooperation [’emphasis added],” U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Mara Karlin said on Nov. 30, discussing the Pentagon’s latest force posture review…AUKUS is not an alliance; the three countries were already long-standing allies. “It’s basically a memorandum of understanding for sharing advanced technology, defense industrial capabilities and technical know-how,” says Ashley Townshend, director of foreign policy and defense research at the United States Studies Centre in Sydney.

The headline item in the AUKUS announcement was the willingness of the U.S. and the UK to share submarine nuclear-propulsion technology that they had kept between themselves for more than 60 years. Complete access is not being allowed, however, since Australia will not be shown how to build the propulsion plants; instead it will receive them complete, then work them into submarines that it currently proposes to build locally.

The other four areas in which the partners will initially cooperate are cybercapabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technology and additional undersea know-how [emphasis added]

Canberra said in 2020 it would spend A$15 billion ($11 billion) on cyber-capabilities this decade, including capabilities for deployed forces [planned Canadian federal spending on cybersecurity is quite, and probably deliberately, opaque–but certainly nothing approaching the Australian figure].

Australia has a strong background in quantum technology, which exploits fundamental behavior of light and matter and which in military affairs is expected to revolutionize sensing, encryption and communications. The U.S. and Britain are no doubt interested in Australia’s civilian research capacity in the field, since quantum technology appears to have had only a low profile in Canberra’s defense planning. It was mentioned only in passing in a force plan published in 2020.

Quantum technology was one of nine technical areas that Canberra designated in November for priority protection from foreign exploitation—obviously meaning, above all, Chinese exploitation. This is part of an Australian effort that amounts to partial technological disconnection from China, though it is not being called that.

Avoiding reliance on Chinese technology, trade and investment, and preventing technology transfer to China, is much discussed in other countries under the heading “decoupling.” In Australia it is already quietly underway…

Work on AI-enabled autonomy that Boeing and BAE Systems are doing in Australia on the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, a loyal-wingman drone, may be attracting strong U.S. interest. The U.S. Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, told Defense News in March that the drone offered impressive capability. The service had included aircraft modeled on it in a tabletop simulation of a war over Taiwan last year.

It is notable that cyber, quantum technology and AI are commonly regarded as occupying much of the high ground of future warfare, so mastering them is urgent. The three countries should be able to advance faster together than the U.S. could alone—and maybe faster than China can…

Because all this collaboration is described as initial, we can expect more to be added later as the AUKUS relationship develops. One area in which Australia may have much to offer its partners later is high-frequency radio technology, based on its work on over-the-horizon radars. On the other hand, it may already be sharing this know-how with them fairly freely…The AUKUS agreement does not mention hypersonics, another part of the technological high ground of future warfare in which Australia and the U.S. have been working together for many years.

The two countries began in November 2020 to develop an air-launched strike and anti-ship missile with a speed of about Mach 5 under a program called SciFire. Flight testing is supposed to begin in late 2024, with deliveries of the operational missile beginning in U.S. fiscal 2027 under the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile program.

Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon were contracted in September for missile designs. Australia expects the weapon to be carried by Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers and P-8A Poseidons and Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightnings.

Meanwhile in Canada our armed forces are in an increasingly parlous state. No wonder the US and UK are having increasing doubts about our defence capabilities whilst taking those of Australia increasingly seriously and eager to add to them. Remember the Aussies have just two-thirds Canada’s population and GDP but actually spend quite a bit more on defence and get a lot more bang for those bucks (see the comparisons here).

E.g. both countries have fighters but the RAAF’s are all modern Super Hornets, Growlers and F-35s whereas the youngest of the RCAF’s CF-18s are 40 years old (and some were bought used from Australia recently!). Both air forces have around 80 fighters now but the RAAF has some 30 more F-35As to come; Canada’s first new fighters (F-35A or Gripen E, winner yet to be selected) might arrive by 2026 with the fleet not completely renewed until the early 2030s.

Moreover both the RAAF and the Royal Australian Navy have a wider range of modern capabilities than their Canadian counterparts and have recapitalized much more of their forces over the last 15 years.

The following opinion piece at the National Post puts the almost FUBAR state of the Canadian Armed Forces nicely; our current government has perishingly little concern for actual defence capabilities as opposed to the forces simply being available for help with COVID-19 and for disaster assistance:

Canada’s neglected military reaching point of being ‘irrelevant’

The problem is that lack of military capacity is not a political issue. It’s not a subject that is close to Justin Trudeau’s heart

John Ivison

…In terms of personnel, training and equipment, CAF has rarely been in such rough shape. Government disinterest and lack of direction has reached the point where retired generals are speaking out, offering opinions they say are shared by senior officers still serving…

There are pressures on the Forces at all levels.Officials said last year the military is under-staffed by around 10,000 regular and reserve troops, while the commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Craig Baines, said recently he needs another 1,000 sailors...

The pandemic has hit recruitment and training, as well as creating unprecedented demands on the military to help domestically. “Nobody in uniform expected to be sent into a nursing home,” said David Perry, president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute [see this earlier post: “COVID-19/Natural Disaster Response, or, Canada’s Coming Constabulary/Militia Armed Forces?“].

The requirement to provide assistance when floods and forest fires strike, has meant the Forces have had to deploy combat-ready troops to disaster zones.At the same time, the sexual misconduct affair has chipped away at the resolve of many in the officer corps, who feel they have been vilified as a profession.

…The mandate letter [new Minister of National Defence Anita] Anand received from the prime minister made a single reference to building a modern armed forces before turning, at length, to culture change [text of letter here]. “This reflects government priorities. Fulfilling social policy objectives comes first,” said one senior member of the Forces…

In addition to a dearth of personnel and training, the Forces have faced capability challenges because of aging equipment.

The government’s record on buying new equipment in the past decade, under both Liberal and Conservative ministries, has been abysmal.

We still do not have a fighter jet to replace the CF18s a decade after the Harper government decided to sole source Lockheed Martin’s F35 and then reversed itself…

Nor do we have a firm commitment to replace the obsolete [NORAD] North Warning radar system with more advanced technology, despite Sajjan issuing a joint statement with the Americans last summer saying we would do so “as soon as possible [see post below].”..

The lack of capacity has been long noted beyond Canada’s borders. “We are rapidly approaching the point where we are considered irrelevant, which I think is very unfortunate,” said Mark Norman, a former vice-chief of the defence staff. “I really think the Americans are going to start ignoring us because they don’t think we are credible or reliable [emphasis added]. They are not even putting pressure on us anymore [well not quite, see that post below].”

The problem is that lack of military capacity is not a political issue. It’s not a subject that is close to Justin Trudeau’s heart.

The prime minister and his closest advisers have never taken the armed forces that seriously, [emphasis added]” said Andrew Leslie, a former Liberal MP and ex-Canadian Forces lieutenant-general. Leslie said he found the decision-making process on military matters “breathtakingly centralized.” Often, nothing much happened because “PMO (the Prime Minister’s Office) does not see any real political payback on defence expenditures.”

Unless there are votes to be gained (and there aren’t in this case) programs tend to suffer from benign neglect [which in fact has now gone long beyond benign, under both Conservatives and Liberals]

Ultimately, Mark Norman believes that Canada just doesn’t have a culture that is overly concerned about national security or defence – a mindset that only changes when troops are engaged in combat…

As one says these days, absolutely!

That post:

NORAD Commander [US Air Force] puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Indo-Pacific Military Cockpit: Japan/Australia, Japan/US (note Taiwan) Strengthen their Bilateral Parts of Quad–and India?

How odd man out will India be? See 3).

1) Japan/Australia, at Defense News Jan. 6:

Japan, Australia ink deal to make military drills run more smoothly

Australia and Japan have signed a reciprocal access agreement to make it easier for their respective militaries to visit each other’s countries for exercises.

The agreement was signed Thursday [Jan. 6] during a virtual conference between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, which took place in lieu of an official visit to Australia by the latter. That scheduled visit was was canceled due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Australia.

This is the first such agreement Japan has signed with a country other than the United States [emphasis added]. The U.S. has a so-called status of forces agreement with Japan, which allows American forces to be stationed throughout the Asian nation’s territory.

The new bilateral agreement will “underpin greater and more complex practical engagement between the Australian Defence Force and the Japanese Self-Defence Forces,” according to a statement released by Morrison on Wednesday.

“This treaty will be a statement of our two nations’ commitment to work together in meeting the shared strategic security challenges we face and to contribute to a secure and stable Indo-Pacific,” the statement read…

Australian and Japanese forces in recent years have joined for joint and multilateral military exercises, such as the biennial Talisman Sabre drill in Australia, which began in 2015. Australian forces have also taken part in a military exercise in Japan, with Australian fighter jets deploying to the country for Bushido Guardian in 2019. The 2021 iteration was canceled due to the pandemic…

Australia and Japan already have deals in place governing defense equipment transfers and intelligence sharing, along with an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement to enable sharing of fuel and other supplies.

2) Japan/US, at Defense News Jan. 7:

US, Japan agree to two defense pacts amid China worries

The U.S. and Japan are close to signing a new five-year pact for Japan to support U.S. military forces in the country and a new agreement to research and develop new defense technologies, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday [Jan. 6].

Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met virtually with their Japanese counterparts — Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo — on Thursday amid rising tensions between the allies and China. Austin participated from home as he recovers from COVID-19.

“We’re launching a new research and development agreement that will make it easier for our scientists, for engineers and program managers, to collaborate on emerging defense-related issues: countering hypersonic threats, advancing space capabilities,” Blinken said ahead of the meeting. “When Japanese and American researchers bring their complementary strengths to bear, we can out-compete and out-innovate anyone.”

Austin reaffirmed the importance of the alliance and said the two countries are taking “bold steps” to strengthen its readiness and deterrent power. Thursday’s meeting was to set a framework for future action, he added.

“This framework will include: enhancing alliance capabilities across all domains; evolving our roles and missions to reflect Japan’s growing ability to contribute to regional peace and stability; and optimizing our alliance force posture to strengthen deterrence,” Austin said.

Under the terms of the hosting deal reached in principle two weeks ago, Japan will spend approximately $1.82 billion annually to support the U.S. military presence. The United States has about 55,000 troops in Japan, including a naval contingent, which makes it the largest forward-deployed U.S. force in the world [emphasis added].

Though it went unmentioned publicly on Thursday, the two sides have reportedly drafted plans for a joint operation amid fears China is gaining the ability to invade and hold Taiwan [emphasis added]. At the initial stage of a Taiwan emergency, the U.S. Marine Corps would set up temporary bases on the Nansei (or Ryukyu) island chain, which stretches southwest toward Taiwan.

Japan’s armed forces would reportedly provide logistical support in areas such as fuel and ammunition, according to the Kyodo news agency.

Japan is also reportedly deploying more than 500 Self-Defense Force personnel, as well as surface-to-ship and ground-to-air missile batteries, on one island in the Nansei chain, Ishigaki. The westernmost island, Yonaguni, hosts a radar and surveillance station, and is reportedly adding an electronic warfare unit by 2023.

The operational plans were expected to draw a backlash from China, which considers democratically-governed Taiwan part of Chinese territory…

Blinken also said the two countries militaries “are improving their capacity to conduct complex joint operations,” as evidenced by a November’s naval exercise in the Philippine Sea, which saw forces from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the U.S. conduct complex exercises with multiple aircraft carriers [see here, and here for participation of Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Winnipeg]

Amid stepped up tensions with China, Japan’s parliament has approved a record extra budget of nearly 36 trillion yen (U.S. $317 billion), with additional military spending to speed up deployment of missile defense systems and other military preparedness measures. Kishida said in November he was open to acquiring enemy-base strike capabilities [emphasis added].

With reporting by the Associated Press.

3) Meanwhile one Indian view, at The Print–keep in mind that many Indians believe the country must maintain its “strategic autonomy” (e.g. “Finding Strategic Autonomy in the Quad: India’s Trial by Fire”): 

Japan-Australia pact shows others can move on without India in Quad

India continues to harbour the illusion that more partners are better than deeper partnerships. This makes creating a regional balance against China more difficult.

Rajesh Rajagopalan

The newly signed Japan-Australia defence agreement should be welcome to New Delhi, but there also ought to be some concerns. On the one hand, it signals the growing coalescence of a regional counter-hegemonic balancing effort in the Indo-Pacific. This benefits India too because China’s power is as much a problem for India and any effort to counterbalance it should be welcome. On the other hand, there could also be a warning for New Delhi in these efforts, that others are stitching up formal, institutionalised security cooperation that leave India out. With two new security treaties now in the region in the space of just a few months—AUKUS being the other—and more potentially on their way, New Delhi needs to consider seriously whether its continuing scepticism of closer security cooperation with others best serves India’s interest.

The new treaty is a demonstration of how worried regional powers are about China’s behaviour. Japan has not signed such a treaty with any country other than the US. Until recently, Japan was unwilling to consider any military obligations beyond defence of its own territory. This has now changed, as Tokyo increasingly realises that it needs security cooperation to deal with potential regional developments beyond its territory. Just last month, Japan and the US agreed to a ‘draft’ joint plan for dealing with a Taiwan contingency. The Japan-Australia agreement is yet another indication that the attitude in Tokyo is changing.

Moreover, Japan is apparently also considering additional security cooperation arrangements with the UK and improving its relations with France. Though India and Japan have signed an agreement on ‘reciprocal provision of supplies and services’ between their military forces, it is far more limited when compared to the Japan-Australia agreement. The India-Japan agreement is primarily meant to facilitate military exercises rather than routinise deep military cooperation [emphasis added]. The change in Japanese attitude mirrors the change in Australia, which once saw China as an economic and trade partner but now sees it as a clear security threat, forcing Canberra to look for new security arrangements with both regional and external powers…

As satisfactory as it might be to see others balancing against China more vigorously, New Delhi should be careful not to give in to the temptation to free-ride on these efforts and assume that it can relax its own efforts to create a regional balance. While New Delhi is confronting Beijing in the Himalayas, that by itself is not sufficient to create the balance that India needs. Most importantly, while India may be able to hold its own along the LAC [Line of Actual Control] today, its situation is likely to worsen as time passes…

China’s naval expansion is proceeding at a pace that will soon make it a force to reckon with in India’s neighbourhood [emphasis added]. Unlike an on-ground confrontation, India simply cannot match China’s naval power, which is based on capital assets that India does not have the money to match. This is especially so when India needs to continue devoting the bulk of its military budget just to hold the line along the Himalayas. And of course, the less said about the continuing mess in India’s defence procurement process, the better [emphasis added, ditto too for Canadian procurement–matters not improved since this 2019 article].

India must shed its aversion to ties

…While India might not need direct help from partners in the Himalayas, it does need such help on the maritime front. But that help would be possible only when India overcomes its ambivalence to stronger and deeper security cooperation with its partners in the region that goes beyond simply holding military exercises.

This is why New Delhi should think seriously about the import of the new security arrangements like the Japan-Australia agreement. Even though these arrangements help India too, they also suggest that others in the region are moving on to deeper security cooperation without India. It is unlikely that New Delhi’s ambivalence is causing these developments but the depth of these arrangements cannot but invite comparisons to the Quad and specifically India’s stance. If India’s partners continue to build other agreements, it could reduce the importance of the Quad in their eyes.

…New Delhi continues to harbour the illusion that more partners are better than deeper partnerships. This makes creating a regional balance against China more difficult, to India’s own detriment.

The author is a professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. He tweets @RRajagopalanJNU. Views are personal.

An earlier very relevant post:

The Challenge Facing India–Leaning even Closer to US to Balance PRC but at same time Keeping in with Russia (tous azimuts of a sort)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

PRC effectively Censoring Chinese-language Media in Australia

Further to the second part of this recent post,

The long Reach of the Dragon’s Claws, Lithuania and New Zealand Sections

An influential Chinese-language media outlet in New Zealand warned its users their information could be shared with ‘relevant state agencies’ if they violated Chinese laws

A popular news site could be exposing New Zealanders to Chinese state surveillance, Newsroom can reveal…

now see this aspect of how the Chicoms are handling matters in Oz–at Reuters:

Australian Chinese language newspapers print censored news – report

Chinese language community news groups in Australia are publishing news censored by translators they use in China to avoid potential repercussions in Beijing, an Australian think tank said.

A report by the Lowy Institute [see here] found that staff working in mainland China exercised self-censorship when translating news stories taken from mainstream Australian media into Chinese for community newspapers because they feared retribution by the Chinese authorities over any content perceived as negative.

Publishers can also risk a financial impact if content is blocked on Chinese social media platforms, said the report, which was funded by the Australian government.

Chinese media in Australia have come under scrutiny for perceived links to the Chinese Communist Party, said the author of the report, academic Fan Yang, and Canberra is worried about growing Chinese government influence in Australia [emphasis added–PM Trudeau’s government seems most unwilling to take seriously similar activities in Canada; a post, note other ones at end: “Registry for PRC’s Agents in Canada? Who Cares?“].

The study of 500 news stories, and interviews with media executives, found self-censorship by the outlets did not mean they were politically aligned with Beijing.

Self-censorship is involved in the news translation process as Chinese media professionals are concerned about the potential penalties that Beijing might impose on their employees, their families, and the revenue of their media organisation [emphasis added],” the report said.

There are 1.2 million Australians of Chinese heritage. An earlier Lowy Institute survey found three-quarters of migrants read Chinese language news online, and that half read Chinese language newspapers. read more [probably very similar in Canada]

The latest report recommended increased monitoring by the Australian media regulator to reduce the risk of propaganda reaching migrants through digital platforms.

Several media executives interviewed for the report said translators in China “decide what is newsworthy for a Chinese migrant audience”.

The study examined three media outlets, including two daily newspapers with circulations of around 20,000, and a digital news service that used Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat to reach a bigger audience of 600,000.

Translations of stories published by mainstream Australian media outlets made up 97.8% of the content.

Stories mainly reported Australian policy viewpoints, but criticism of the Chinese government was removed [emphasis added].

“Politically sensitive topics or criticisms against the Chinese government would put our staff members or their families at risk. We don’t want them or their families to get detained in China,” an interviewee was quoted as saying in the report.

Australia introduced a foreign interference law in 2018 that has increased scrutiny of political donations by Chinese Australians, and led to a police raid on Chinese state media outlets last year [but in Canada this post would seem to reflect the attitude of PM Trudeau’s government: :”Registry for PRC’s Agents in Canada? Who Cares?“].

Lots more on Chinese-language media in Canada at this earlier post:

Dragon Devouring Canadian Chinese Media, Part 2 (Note “Update” on situation in Australia towards end)

Sweet and sour, eh?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

The Indo-Pacific, or, Euros Caught (sort of) between AUKUS Anglos and the Dragon

Below is the latter part of a piece at the UK’s International Institute of Strategic Studies:

What does AUKUS mean for Europe’s Indo-Pacific strategies?

For European powers, AUKUS raises uncomfortable questions about their willingness and capacity to contribute to a hard-power response in the Indo-Pacific. As Tim Huxley and Ben Schreer argue, their policies of strategic ambiguity will become increasingly difficult to sustain.

About Ben

About Tim

…the signs are that this understandable continental European impulse to avoid making hard choices in this era of sustained and growing great-power competition [between the PRC and US] will become increasingly difficult to sustain. Hard power increasingly matters in the Indo-Pacific strategic equation, and the sudden and unexpected announcement of AUKUS [more here] threw this challenge for France, other European states and the EU into even sharper relief.

France will continue to play an important role in Indo-Pacific security as the only European power other than the UK with significant military power-projection capabilities, and will seek to strengthen its defence and security links with India among other regional states. Moreover, Germany is already seeking incrementally to strengthen its defence activities with Australia, Japan and others – as was evident, for example, in the letter of intent on ‘military space partnership’ signed last week with Australia.

That said, AUKUS confronts European powers with uncomfortable questions about their willingness and capacity to contribute to a hard-power response to the Indo-Pacific’s increasingly tense strategic circumstances. The UK’s involvement in AUKUS will be consequential as British forces will now be integrated more closely and synergistically with those of Australia and the US. The UK is also likely to enhance further its defence cooperation with Japan. The new reality created by AUKUS will thus cast an unfavourable light on the lack of hard-power substance in the regional strategies of other European states and the EU.

Reality check in store

The broad remit of AUKUS beyond the development of Australia’s SSNs to include cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and undersea domains could act as a magnet for cooperation by European powers that wish to ensure that their contributions to Indo-Pacific security are part of a purposeful strategy, well-coordinated with that of the US. Yet, it remains to be seen whether European governments will be able to resolve a first-order strategic conundrum regarding their Indo-Pacific engagement: the need to reconcile their desire to avoid hard choices between the US and China with the realities of a deteriorating Indo-Pacific regional security environment.

Tellingly, France’s diplomatic activism in courting India as an enhanced security partner within days of the AUKUS announcement signalled an intention to engage with a notionally still ‘non-aligned’ major Indo-Pacific power. But, not least through the ‘Quad’, New Delhi has been moving closer in strategic terms to Australia, Japan and the US, driven by a far-reaching reassessment of China’s challenge. In this new strategic dynamic, Europe’s equidistant approach towards Indo-Pacific defence engagement will increasingly face a reality check.

To my mind it is noteworthy that the authors fail to mention that for Euro NATO members Russia is the defining, immediate defence/security threat–which makes it rather difficult to think in those terms about the Indo-Pacific. Unless one is a former great imperial power retaining certain pretensions such as France and the (for now) UK. Then there’s that pesky matter of America-first reliability these days.

Remember also that Canada is not an anglo state, was not invited to be part of AUKUS, and has a government under PM Trudeau that is concerned to put relations with the PRC back on some sort of track following the release by Beijing of their Canadian hostages, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, immediately following the dropping in Vancouver of the US extradition case against Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou.

Relevant posts:

Canada and the Indo-Pacific Century: A Military/Naval Role? [2020]

The Indo-Pacific, the Birth of AUKUS…and Canada, Part 2

Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Compradors just Can’t Stop Loving the Chicoms

Note also this post based on a piece by the British strategic analyst Julian Lindley-French:

AUKUS and what Way Ahead for the West?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

AUKUS and what Way Ahead for the West?

British strategic analyst Julian Lindley-French (his rather impressive “About me” is here) has at the subject–excerpts:

An AUKUS moment

Why are the French so upset?..it is the subterfuge used by three ostensibly close strategic allies and partners which is why Paris is so angry.  As late as August 30th at the Inaugural France-Australia 2+2 Consultations, the two countries issued a statement saying that “These first discussions in such a format reflect the very high level of France and Australia’s strategic and operational cooperation. The ministers discussed our joint strategic analysis of the Indo-Pacific environment and signalled France’s wish to act jointly with Australia to achieve an open Indo-Pacific area based on upholding national sovereignties and international law, particularly the freedom of navigation….They agreed on the next steps for strengthening our bilateral defence cooperation as well as our industrial partnerships with the aim of maintaining this momentum and deepening the enhanced strategic partnership that has united France and Australia since 2017.

The meeting also committed Australia and France to strengthen industrial and capability-centred cooperation and re-stated the importance of the future submarine programme. The two countries also launched negotiations focused on strengthening and diversifying military cooperation in support of the posture of French forces in the Indo-Pacific. As the Australian ministers sat down at the table with their French counterparts they would have known (unless they were not in what was a very tight loop) that AUKUS had already been agreed in principle at the June meeting of the G7 in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, and that discussions had been underway for some eighteen months.  Hardly cricket [rather bodyline bowling]

AUKUS and the British

The British situation with the French is the most complicated, not least because of the proximity of the two old European powers and because of the already toxic political relationship between London and Paris. There will certainly be a certain degree of schadenfreude in parts (not all) of London’s body politic over AUKUS, in spite of Boris Johnson’s claim that the Franco-British relationship is “rock solid”.  As one senior German colleague said to your correspondent there can be no question some element of retaliation is involved on the British side for France’s hard-line over Brexit.  These kind of periodical Franco-British bust-ups are hard-wired into an ancient relationship. The strange thing is that Paris really does not believe (remarkably) it has taken a hard-line over Brexit which reveals the level of political dissonance that exists between London and Paris.  Some in Paris even suggest that Brexit is now merely a legal-technical matter to be handled by the European Commission. That is pure Gallic nonsense because in Paris everything is political, even if it pretends to be legal.

The French are also again being rude about Britain. Ho hum. With the voice of de Gaulle again echoing through the Elysée Palace France has again accused Britain of being a wholly-owned strategic subsidiary of the Americans…

AUKUS and the French

Where does France go next? With the French presidency of the EU about to begin in January Paris will make much of the need for European strategic autonomy in the wake of the Afghanistan fiasco and now AUKUS. The irony is that France is right about the need for more European strategic autonomy because a more capable Europe is vital for the future of both Europe and NATO, but the paradox of such autonomy is that it will only ever be realised outside the EU. Autonomy is a function of military power not words. In the European context any such vision will only ever be realised if Britain is party to it and yet France has done all in its power to alienate Britain in recent years over Brexit (which incredibly they deny). Whatever happens in the forthcoming German federal elections there seems little chance that Berlin is going to become a defence-strategic actor worthy of its economic power anytime soon [see this post: “NATO, the EU and the US in the Not-So-Brave New World after Afghanistan (note UPDATE)]

AUKUS and China

Of course, all the above is a strategic sideshow to the main event of AUKUS – China.  The single most important change factor is China’s growing maritime military power projection capability which is shifting not just global geopolitics, but the very shape and structure of Western alliances, coalitions and regimes. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) now has more ships than the United States Navy (USN) and, critically, unlike the Americans the overwhelming bulk of the Chinese force is concentrated in the eastern Indo-Pacific.

Power is like a light to moths.  Whether they want to or not moths are irresistibly drawn to it and in the Indo-Pacific there are two lights that shine bright – America and China.  US-China strategic power competition in the Indo-Pacific will be the defining geopolitical contest of the twenty-first century and AUKUS is the first real step in realigning American-led Western strategy with power and threat…

France thus has a choice to make about whether it wants to be part of this US global strategy or stand apart from it.  Indeed, far from post-Brexit Britain being strategically isolated, as some have suggested, it is far more likely that France is in danger of becoming strategically-isolated from where the West’s real defence power lies. 

The future of AUKUS

Could France have been part of AUKUS? For all the current tensions AUKUS must be seen in the context of a massively bigger strategic power picture and France must at some point be part of it.  Not only is AUKUS in many respects the future of Western-led geopolitical networks, but the Americans and the British also need the French. Proof?  Interestingly (or perhaps not), just as Canberra, London and Washington were announcing AUKUS, Brussels was launching the EU Indo-Pacific Strategy.  No-one noticed because to paraphrase Hobbes covenants without the sword are but words and of little use to any European. At some future point it would be in London’s interest to find ways to associate Paris with AUKUS, possibly as a party to the technological developments, but then it takes two to tango, possibly four…

Is AUKUS the first real evidence of a profound split in the West between an Anglosphere and a Eurosphere? It is highly unlikely [one is not so sure]. Few other Europeans have come to France’s defence over AUKUS and so many other Europeans are determined to prevent just such a split from happening to keep the Americans and British engaged in continental defence…

But note this on the EU:

And have a look at the tweets at this post yesterday:

France/AUKUS Update (with maps)

What I find so striking in how the Biden administration has been conducting its foreign policy/national security strategy is how much at root it is like Trump’s in its American First unilateralism–just not conducted with such offensive language in public.

It seems critical to me that the Euros and the US stay coupled in order to face both Russia and the PRC, and not split seriously apart as a result of spiteful conduct of relations in response to events. But Euro trade interests still pull strongly towards Beijing, especially in Germany (see the posts here and here); and how many in the EU are prepared to mourir pour Kyiv? And how much longer will the US be prepared to tolerate the tortoise-like pace of many NATO members in seriously strengthening their broad defence capabilities? Not exactly a fair wind ahead.

It will also be important to have Japan and India cooperative with AUKUS to the extent possible; the former should not be too difficult but the Indians, with their historical suspicions of the US and their good defence relations with France, may well look askance at how the French have been treated.

More on Japan:

Japan urges Europe to speak out against China’s military expansion

Exclusive: in the first piece in a new Guardian series on China and tensions in the Indo-Pacific, Japan’s defence minister says the international community must bolster deterrence efforts against Beijing’s military

UPDATE: Note this from Germany’s Europe minister (SPD, just before the Sept. 26 election):

Deutsche Welle story on above:

German minister: Submarine dispute is ‘a wake-up call’

Germany’s European Affairs minister said it will be difficult to rebuild trust between the EU and its allies as the US, UK, and Australia insist that long-term relations with France won’t be affected.

And see first “Comment” for India, SSNs, US and France.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

France/AUKUS Update (with maps)

Some tweets on French reaction and also possible broader effects (note the Indo-Pacific maps at the latter part of the post):

First post on AUKUS:

The Indo-Pacific, the Birth of AUKUS…and Canada (note “UPPERDATE”)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

The Indo-Pacific, the Birth of AUKUS…and Canada, Part 2

Further to this post, excerpts from pretty stinging piece at the Globe and Mail by two leading Canadian academics dealing with national security matters, both former government analysts:


Canada’s exclusion from ‘Three Eyes’ only confirms what was already the case

Stephanie Carvin and Thomas Juneau

Stephanie Carvin is an associate professor at Carleton University. Thomas Juneau is an associate professor at the University of Ottawa. They are co-authors of the forthcoming book Intelligence Analysis and Policy Making: The Canadian Experience.

Australia has…developed a more mature intelligence and national security culture, one that is firmly integrated with the policy world and has an appetite for risk-taking. To that end, the country has overhauled its legislative framework and national security architecture to meet evolving threats, and there is also a greater willingness to critically assess strategy and priorities through “white papers,” research reports that then help inform the government’s policy-making process.

Canada, on the other hand, often performs weakly in these areas. Ottawa devotes fewer resources toward cultivating relationships with its most important security partners. Indeed, there seems to be a belief that our proximity to the United States in particular means that our relationship can sometimes be taken for granted.

…there are important geopolitical reasons for these differences. The Australians have been forced to develop an intelligence culture and engagement policy because they live in a more challenging threat environment. Canada, on the other hand, has the luxury of being in a relatively safe international neighbourhood…

…While no one should doubt that there remains excellent intelligence co-operation between Canada and its Five Eyes partners, the country’s neglect of all things intelligence and national security – as illustrated by the issues’ complete absence from the electoral campaign – is increasingly unsustainable…

In other words, if our politicians and senior bureaucrats cannot be bothered to take a serious interest in these issues, why should our allies and close partners bother to take us seriously? Even bother to talk to us much?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song:

The Indo-Pacific, the Birth of AUKUS…and Canada (note “UPPERDATE”)

The US and UK have reached an agreement to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs, not fitted with nuclear weapons) and well as to deepen cooperation in a number of key emerging defence technologies. The Australians will ditch their existing agreement with France’s Naval Group to build twelve large conventional subs (SSKs) in Australia based on a design from that company. The French are hopping mad, saying that is “a stab in the back” and that “trust has been betrayed” by Australia.

The plan is for eight SSNs to be (largely) built in Adelaide, South Australia, based on either the Royal Navy’s Astute-class or the larger US Navy Virginia-class. It is hoped the first sub might be delivered by around 2040 (what will the Indo-Pacific, indeed the world, look like by then?). From a story at the Sydney Morning Herald:

Australia will pursue long-range hypersonic missile technology and undersea drones while it builds a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new military pact with the United States and Britain, a partnership China has labelled an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability.

The announcement of the partnership, to be known as AUKUS, has sent shockwaves around the world as the three countries look to provide a more assertive military posture in the face of Beijing’s rapidly escalating militarisation of the South China Sea.

China’s foreign ministry said the agreement “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race”.

…Australia will acquire long-range missiles – including Tomahawk cruise missiles on its Hobart-class destroyers, anti-ship missiles for the Super Hornet aircraft and hypersonic missiles that can travel at least five times the speed of sound – as well as unmanned underwater vehicles under the AUKUS pact…

The Canadian Forces can only dream of procuring such new, advanced and costly capabilities.

Plus another story at the Sydney Morning Herald on how the momentous pact came quickly to fruition:

Engaging the systems’: The secret only a handful of people were trusted to keep

It was a proposal 18 months in the making and a secret only a handful of people were trusted to keep for months. It would result in what the US has described as the “biggest strategic step Australia has taken in generations.” Morrison says it is now “probably the most important trilateral meeting Australia has had for the past 70 years”.

But note this UPPESTDATE:

And from an article at US Naval Institute News, note the other areas of cooperation mentioned at end of the quote:

Nuclear-powered submarines are largely regarded as the most survivable weapon against the Chinese fleet in the South China Sea, where U.S. Navy and Marine Corps officials expect a potential conflict with Beijing could occur. Nuclear-powered boats can travel much longer distances and operate underwater for longer periods of time than conventionally-powered submarines, making them ideal for the vast distances in the Indo-Pacific.

“Our first initiative as part of AUKUS is . . . a shared ambition to support Australia’s desire to acquire nuclear-powered submarines and we will launch a trilateral effort of 18 months, which will involve teams – technical and strategic and navy teams from all three countries – to identify the optimal pathway of delivery of this capability,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters today, noting that the U.S. has only ever shared this technology with the U.K. in 1958.

“We are adding – this is a unique set of circumstances – Australia to that deep partnership to explore the best ways for Australia to pursue nuclear-powered submarines. I do want to underscore that this will give Australia the capability for their submarines . . . to deploy for longer periods,” the official continued. “They’re quieter. They’re much more capable. They will allow us to sustain and improve deterrence across the Indo-Pacific. As part of that, we will work closely on efforts to ensure the best practices with respect to nuclear stewardship. I think you will see much deeper interoperability among our navies and our nuclear infrastructure people to ensure that our countries are working very closely together.”..

“Over the next 18 months, we will work together to seek to determine the best way forward to achieve this. This will include an intense examination of what we need to do to exercise our nuclear stewardship responsibilities here in Australia,” Morrison said during the press conference. “We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide, Australia in close cooperation with the United Kingdom and the United States. But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability. And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations.”..

The new AUKUS security agreement also includes broader technology sharing between the three countries and ongoing dialogue between defense and diplomatic officials, the senior [US] administration official said.

The arrangement will include initiatives “to spur cooperation across many new and emerging arenas: cyber, AI – particularly applied AI – quantum technologies and some undersea capabilities as well. We’ll also work to sustain and deepen information and technology sharing and I think you’re going to see a much more dedicated effort to pursue integration of security and defense-related science, technology, and industrial bases and supply chains,” the official said. “This will be a sustained effort over many years to see how we can marry and merge some of our independent and individual capabilities into greater trilateral engagement as we go forward.”

Meanwhile the alarm is raised in Canada–at the Globe and Mail:

Canada left out as U.S., U.K., Australia strike deal to counter China

The three countries, along with Canada and New Zealand, already share foreign intelligence through the Five Eyes partnership. It was not immediately clear whether the new alliance would serve purely as a vehicle for Australia to engage in additional defence projects with the other countries, or if the pact would supplant some of the work of the Five Eyes [I would think there will be little direct impact on Five Eyes sharing–this pact is primarily defence cooperation and research oriented–see following section of this post]...

Eric Miller, a political and business consultant specializing in Canada-U.S. affairs, said the agreement represents an alliance between countries more willing than Canada to take on China. He said the pact could represent a “three eyes” subset of the larger partnership.

“Those who are in the world of ‘we need to directly confront China, and use all of our assets and resources to do that,’ – they are essentially moving forward,” he said…

The British Thin Pinstriped Line blog has these observations:

…Its unlikely that this will do much damage to 5-EYES – for example New Zealand would never have been approached as the acquisition of a nuclear submarine would be vastly beyond the budget, or needs, of the small but incredibly professional Royal New Zealand Navy.

Canada may be feeling slightly raw about this – particularly those with long memories who recall the 1980s and the doomed plan to acquire nuclear submarines for the RCN [see “Sovereignty, Security and the Canadian Nuclear Submarine Program” by @adam_lajeunesse]

Given 5-EYEs is more than just an Indo-Pacific focus, it would be wrong to read much into this as a statement on the future of that Alliance. Rather it is better to see this as a subgrouping of a very successful international alliance…

In any event Canada has little serious in the way of naval or air assets to bring to bear to much effect in the Western Pacific–a post from 2020:

Canada and the Indo-Pacific Century: A Military/Naval Role?

But there is a bigger picture in all this as to how Canada now fits with the the three members of AUKUS. A tweet of mine:

Then this tweet from Vice-Admiral (ret’d) Paul Maddison of the Royal Canadian Navy, subsequently our High Commissioner to Australia:

A friend well-versed in defence matters and international affairs has this reaction, along similar lines:

Since World War II, Australia has always made it a strategic priority to nurture its alliance with the USA, which they perceive as having saved them when the UK abandoned them during that war (that’s their “narrative”). The nuclear submarines, which are part of the very inner circle of defence intimacy (exceeded only by nuclear weapons) help cement that and if the good old, now Global, Britain wants in, so much the better.

What may be emerging is a Three Eyes alliance with Canada and New Zealand relegated to a peripheral, symbolic Five Eyes arrangement to keep the club intact for larger intelligence and foreign policy calculations.

Bottom line – serious countries are getting serious.  Suppliers of virtuous advice…may be invited to sit in a corner, where their incoherent mumblings won’t disturb the adults.

Ouch! And some final thoughts of mine, further to the earlier post of mine listed above:

One thing Canada usefully could do for our allies is very publicly to re-assert our focus on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) in the North Atlantic for NATO vs Russian subs with cruise missiles, in cooperation with the renewed US 2nd Fleet at Norfolk, Virginia which has this mission (see this post: “Subs and Russian Nuclear Weapons Doctrine, Note Cruise Missiles“).  All our frigates save three should be based in Atlantic Canada and some RCAF CP-140 maritime patrol planes should be permanently based in Newfoundland for greater range into the ocean (our eastern ones are now at Nova Scotia). The US Navy should have regular, agreed operational access to Canadian bases and ports (as the USN now has in Australia and Norway), as should USN P-8A maritime patrol planes–if the US wants such sea/air access on our territory.

But for some reason our government and and the RCN/RCAF do almost nothing to highlight the North Atlantic ASW role, preferring to stress drug busting in Caribbean and enforcing UN sanctions off North Korea. Very odd, especially as both Norway and the UK are putting serious public emphasis on their (sometimes joint) contribution to that ASW role and on their cooperation in it with US.

Something like the above would hardly be as striking as AUKUS but at least it would offer something of real utility for allies and also public backing for them.

UPDATE: The CCP’s Global Times mouthpiece, in top Wolf Warrior mode, unleashes the hit “The Return of the Running Dogs”:

Swell folks, those Chicoms.

UPPERDATE: As was suggested above in this post–for government officials to say such things as these suggests a whole lot of dissatisfaction with PM Trudeau’s government:

Canada caught off guard by new security pact between U.S., Australia and Britain

Three officials, representing Canada’s foreign affairs, intelligence and defence departments, told The Globe and Mail that Ottawa was not consulted about the pact, and had no idea the trilateral security announcement was coming until it was made on Wednesday by U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The defence ministers from the U.K. and Australia reached out to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to inform him of the decision shortly before the late-afternoon announcement. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau received a call from his Australian counterpart. Daniel Minden, a spokesperson for Mr. Sajjan, said Ottawa had been kept in the loop on talks between the countries.

One of the Canadian officials referred to the pact as the new “Three Eyes” and said it’s clear that Canada’s closest allies consider Ottawa to be a “weak sister” when it comes to standing up to China. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the officials because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly…

We are indeed a “weak sister”. Plus on same story a re-tweet from former high-level Liberal insider Warren Kinsella, who has turned violently against PM Trudeau:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds