Australia Is Making a Risky Bet on the U.S.

Australia Is Making a Risky Bet on the U.S.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, center, with, by video link, President Biden, right, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, in Canberra, Australia, last week.Credit: Mick Tsikas/EPA, via Shutterstock

The United States did not directly mention China in announcing its historic new security partnership with Australia and Britain last week, but it didn’t have to. The defense deal is a clear escalation and indication that Washington views Beijing as an adversary.

It also has thrust Australia into a central role in America’s rivalry with China. After hinting at a more self-reliant defense posture for the past several years, Australia’s government is now instead betting big on the future of its alliance with the United States with the new pact. Australia seems to be assuming that America will remain engaged in Asia for the long haul and will be prepared to face down China if necessary — but it shouldn’t.

The crux of the partnership, called AUKUS, is an agreement for the United States and Britain to share their technology to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines. But this is no ordinary arms agreement, nothing like exporting fighter jets or howitzers. Only a handful of nations have nuclear-powered submarines, and Australia will be just the second country, after Britain, to benefit from the top-secret U.S. technology.

Why is Australia worthy of such favorable treatment? It’s not just that it is one of America’s oldest and closest allies. It’s that for many American observers of China’s increasingly aggressive behavior, Australia is also the canary in the coal mine for great power competition with China.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *