By Herman Tiu Laurel
Two weeks ago. US President Joe Biden humbly phoned China’s President Xi Jinping, apparently to dial down the tensions between the two countries.
President Xi expressed his usual desire for a harmonious relationship “On the basis of respecting each other’s core concerns…”
The world lightened up on the show of goodwill.
But on September 16, 2021 the world was treated to a shock.
Australia, The United Kingdom and the United states of America announced the surprising AUKUS alliance, with a nuclear submarine deal with Australia to boot.
The nuke sub deal had to be stolen from under the French. In protest France withdrew its ambassadors from Australia and the US and EU denounced the AUKUS deal.
“Never the same again” European Union and NATO wonder how they can trust the US ever again after AUKUS.
What became clear is the U.S. is indeed pivoting to Asia, even if it loses Europe – throwing the baby out with the bathwater which China with the right handling will certainly benefit from.
Arms Race 2.0
China described the AUKUS as “irresponsible” and a “provocation”, warning that the nuke sub deal makes Australia a “potential nuclear war target”. Indonesia and Malaysia expressed fears AUKUS and the nuke sub deal “will spark nuclear arms race”, while the Philippines’ Defense Secretary Lorenzana ducked chanting the mantra of “good bilateral relations with all”.
Singapore’s PM Lee was mum on the nuke sub deal, expressing hope the AUKUS would “contribute to peace and stability”. The Philippines is the only country in ASEAN taking an unconcerned tone of Lorenzana which later with Locsin speaking became a fawning and mendicant tone again as we will show below.
The AUKUS nuke submarine deal will as sure as daylight lead to Arms Race 2.0 but the difference with the 1.0 is that this time it is the US and Australia that’s likely to see an economic crisis before the arms race is over. China’s trade and growth rate continues its robust run and its now fitted to build 5 nuclear submarine all at the same time – some say even more.
The war to end all
Ricardo Saludo of the Manila Times wrote last September 12, 2021 that “America and China are moving Asia toward war”, but he is wrong about China’s part.
China is and has been doing its best to avoid tension and conflict with the US as China is on course to be the world’s largest economy within two decades and any war would only ruin that trajectory.
But that precisely is the reason the US pushing for escalation of tensions, with its 800 military bases around China and constant provocations. Now it extends its chain of submarine bases from Norfolk, Virginia to Western Australia. When the AUKUS subs’ prowling increases the Doomsday clock pushes closer to midnight.
Doubt persists that any country would seek the “war to end all wars…” that could obliterate the world, but the US “forever war” faction has no qualm pushing the world to the brink. It is vital to discern that the US is anathema to Mankind’s peace, while China is covets peace and prosperity. The Philippines, in the crossfire must push back against the US escalation.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is a non-entity in world politics, and Australia for that matter, so much so that US President Joe Biden could not recall his name even while Morrison was standing at the video screen to his right during the virtual conference with Boris Johnson announcing the AUKUS alliance – a comic scene that has the whole world laughing.
At that September 16, 2021 virtual meet of the three leaders Biden turned to his left and thanked Boris Johnson and then to the right saying, “And I want to thank that fella down under. Thank you very much pal… Appreciate it Mr. Prime Minister.” There was no live audience to laugh, but it certainly could be heard in all the world capitals watching.
Morrison made his global reputation when, serving as Trump’s echo chamber, called for the probe on the “China virus”. WHO did and cleared China but Morrison went on with the baseless charge. China cut Aussie imports that Ironically the US grabbed of its exporters, while the “Wuhan lab-leak” has been junked by even Biden’s US intelligence agencies.
KIWI bans AUKUS subs
A huge letdown for the AUKUS is New Zealand’s announcement that the Australian nuclear subs, if and when built or when leased and deployed, would not be allowed to New Zealand’s seas citing the island country’s anti-Nuke laws. How this will affect New Zealand’s role in the Five Eyes intelligence pactis now the subject of speculation.
New Zealand, like the Philippines, has deepened a comprehensive “strategic cooperation partnership” with its top trading partner China since 2019 “based on mutual trust and benefit.” Unlike U.S.-Aussie relations based on subservience to U.S. interest. Imagine the Aussies riling China and lose its exports for the US beef, grains, minerals exporters to grab.
Another member of the Five Eyes, Canada, is left out of the AUKUS Pocus scheme for what some Western reports say – being “soft” on China. It refused to ban Huawei despite doing the US “proxy kidnapping” of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei CFO. Canadians are lambasting Prime Minister Trudeau for being the wimp left out of the AUKUS.
AUKUS’ ethnocentric undertone
ASEAN, and the rest of the non-English speaking world, must take note of the language behind the AUKUS alliance uttered by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He referred to AUKUS as an alliance of three-English speaking nations – a term for the alliance that British rightwing politician Nigel Farage hailed as the coming together of the “Anglosphere”.
While China actively espouses and builds its vision of a “Community of Shared Future for Mankind” seeking harmony and cooperation amongst a round table of all nations, the US has unrelentingly pushed for the opposite “America First” or “American at the head of the table” through constant “Cold War” threats with armadas and 800 foreign U.S. military bases.
I thought 21st century US global assertiveness represented Western civilization’s reactionary impulse to Asia’s rise, but now that US assertiveness is evidently a hidden Anglo-imperialist force signaling, as the Guardian magazine headlined, “a new global order” where the sun never sets on the Anglosphere – from Hawaii across the globe to the Pacific in Australia.
From the onset AUKUS was already working against its own success, as France called the AUKUS project a “stab in the back” and, according to the September 19 Daily Telegraph, some in the EU even say it amounts to a “declaration of war” for blindsiding Europe. In Asia, only Asian puppet regimes Japan and Taiwan welcomed AUKUS – and belatedly Locsin’s Philippines.
The AUKUS is another in a string of causes that the US alliance system is seeing a loss of cohesion. Among the US QUAD allies India’s media has raised about India being left out as Australia clearly gets more favorable terms India will never get – that is. imminent nuclear weaponry. Western media has been quick to report that India was kept abreast on AUKUS.
The Anglosphere empire is a pipedream as the US and Australian economies continue decaying. Australia’s goading of China erodes its 215-bilion trade with it. Even now former Aussie PM Kevin Rudd worry about Aussie sovereignty and the Aussie navy becoming a “subunit of the US Navy” while others worry about the cost of maintaining the 8 to 12
Locsin leading PHL astray
Foreign secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin is the lone voice in ASEAN encouraging the AUKUS reported said it would be “beneficial in the long term”. Is he saying that it is detrimental in the short term? Sec. Locsin’s reaction is anathema to ASEAN and its Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) and Southeast Asian-Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty.
To claim that the AUKUS and arms race spurred by the Aussie-US nuke sub deal would be “beneficial in the long term” is a conundrum, for there may never be a “long term” if a nuclear gun is cocked as this AUKUS agreement looks to be, and a disastrous accident occurs or when the “forever war faction” in the West stages a false flag like the “Tonkin Gulf incident”.
There is as well, the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT banning the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, The AUKUS won’t be taking this first step towards nuclear submarine capability without following it up sub rosa with the weapons sooner or later. The record of duplicity of the US is everywhere where it intends to create conflict.
Locsin’s statement has been taken to town by the Americans and its press and media as an endorsement of it new was alliance for ASEAN when the reality is ASEAN looks upon it with alarm and trepidation.
Philippines at a crossroad again
The Philippines, being the fulcrum between East and the West, global peace and conflict, stands at the crossroad as well as the crossfire point, hence it plays a pivotal role. Will the Philippines be a factor for peace and prosperity for the region and the world, or a precursor for tension and the “war to end all wars…” where man will rise out of the ashes with sticks and stones as Einstein said.
It is our position, the think tank I represent, and the primordial interest of the Filipino nation that peace and prosperity alone be the guiding star for the nation. The Philippines must stand behind ASEAN’s and the world’s anti-war and anti-nuke agreements and denounce the escalation of the arms race and the advancing of the doomsday clock by the US by its awful AUKUS pact and nuclear submarine deal with Australia.
As has happened in the past, President Rodrigo R. Duterte must make his position clear on this issue that his foreign secretary Locsin has so mangled and misdirected, that has cast the Philippines again as a puppet state of the US and its allies that have all time and again showcased its warmongering, cruelty, nihilism which we have just recently been reminded of in Afghanistan.