Several political leaders and peace activists criticized the announcement of a new security alliance by the US, the UK and Australia, calling it a threat to global peace that can lead to an arms race akin to the twentieth century cold war. On Wednesday, the leaders of three countries had announced the formation of a new trilateral security alliance, AUKUS (Australia, the UK and the US), at a virtual conference.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, UK prime minister Boris Johnson and US president Joe Biden announced the new formation, along with the decision to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines with the objective of establishing “peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific in the long run.”
They claimed that nuclear submarines will be developed by all three countries and the deal will not violate the commitments under the Nuclear non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Australia is a signatory. The announcement added that nuclear submarines will only be powered by nuclear energy and will not have nuclear warheads.
AUKUS was announced just before a crucial meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad next week. The Quad group includes Japan and India, along with the US and Australia. It was originally formed in 2007 and was re-established in 2017 in order to counter the so-called Chinese threat to “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea.
Though the statement issued by the US White House does not mention China explicitly, it is widely seen as a move against China. Following the announcement, China slammed the new grouping as an “extremely irresponsible” step which will affect peace and stability in the region, increase the arms race, and damage nuclear non-proliferation efforts. China has also blamed the three countries for having “cold war mentality and ideological prejudice.”
A new cold war
The AUKUS is seen as part of increasing attempts by the US and its allies to counter China’s rise in world politics and its claims in the South China Sea. The former head of Britain’s Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, took to Twitter following the announcement, saying that “starting a new cold war will not bring peace, justice and human rights to the world.” Similar sentiments were expressed by several other political activists, groups and leaders across the world.
No Cold War!
— Progressive International (@ProgIntl) September 16, 2021
In the UK, Stop the War Coalition and several other anti-war groups condemned the announcement of the formation of AUKUS and criticized prime minister Boris Johnson for following the US in this “unnecessary and provocative step that will heighten tensions with China,” Morning Star reported.
Similar criticisms have been made by activists in the US, with co-chairman of the Communist Party of the USA, Joe Sims, demanding that the Biden administration stop listening to war mongers who are “pushing the country into a new balance of military and nuclear terror with China and possibly Russia.”
Medea Benjamin, founder of CODEPINK, in a series of tweets, called the trilateral deal an act of aggression and refuted the claim that the initiative is for peace in the region.
With this disastrous US/US/Australia deal to help Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, we are ratcheting up the tension that could easily lead to a nuclear war with China. This is NOT “deterrence,” this is aggression.#chinaisnotourenemy #CODEPINK
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) September 15, 2021
Meanwhile, France, which had signed a deal with Australia in 2016 to supply diesel powered submarines, expressed its concerns over the AUKUS announcement. French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the US of ditching its European allies after an announcement by the Australian prime minister that the deal with France had been put on halt. Le Drian even called the announcement of the security alliance as a “brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision.”