At the start of the day on May 2nd, the U.S. had 4.2% of the world’s population and 33.3%, or one-third, of all coronavirus-19 cases.
At the start of the day on May 10th, the U.S. had 32.9% of cases. The decline from 33.3% to 32.9% is .4% down, or a decline of slightly over 1% of the 33.9%, in 8 days. It’s virtually certain never to go down to the 4.2% of global coronavirus cases which would match America’s 4.2% of the global population.
America will therefore probably, for a long time to come, have a larger number of coronavirus-19 cases than any other country. America has, furthermore, been adding new cases at around 20 to 30 thousand per day since around April 1st and therefore still continues rising, but as the virus spreads and takes hold in more and more countries, America’s percentage of the global total is probably now declining, from the peak of one-third (33.3%), which it had reached on May 2nd.
The libertarian Mises Institute headlined on May 7th, “How Many Lives Will Politicians Sacrifice in the Name of Fighting COVID-19?” and argued for do-nothing governmental policy, and for relaxation of the “lockdowns” that are in place. Mike Whitney at the libertarian Unz Review headlined on May 4th, “Sweden Is the Model” and wrote that “Herd immunity is the only path that is currently available.” This means there should be no “lockdowns.” He asserted that “After 6 weeks of this nonsense, many people are getting fed-up and demanding that the lockdowns be ended”:
As we said in last week’s column, the lockdowns must be lifted gradually, that is crucial.
“You have to step down the ladder one rung at a time”, says Senior Swedish epidemiologist and former Chief Scientist of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Johan Giesecke. In other words, slowly ease up on the restrictions and gradually allow people to get back to work. That is the best way forward.
Sweden has, indeed, taken a remarkably libertarian approach to dealing with Covid-19. As I wrote on April 22nd under the headline “Why Post-Coronavirus America Will Have Massive Poverty”, comparing Sweden’s policies versus the more socialistic Denmark’s policies on this:
The daily number of Denmark’s new Covid-19 cases peaked on April 7th, and has been declining since that time. Its neighbor Sweden peaked on April 8th. Sweden’s emergency legislation is less strict about lockdowns, but relies more on individual discretion. However, since Sweden, like Denmark, is a democratic socialist country, individuals needn’t worry about paying medical bills, nor about being paid while on sick-leave. So, employees aren’t desperate to return to their places of work, such as in America; and, therefore, these countries don’t spread the infection as readily as in the U.S. and are thus far less likely to have recurring peaks and delayed terminations of the coronavirus crisis. (By contrast: in America, where losing one’s job can mean losing one’s health care, even sick employees may be inclined to stay on the job and perhaps infect customers.) And there are no corporate bailouts in either Denmark’s or Sweden’s legislation. Denmark’s Finance Minister, the Social Democrat (or democratic socialist) Nicolai Wammen was interviewed for 15 minutes on March 27th, by Christiane Amanpour, and he explained Denmark’s emergency law, which was overwhelmingly bottom-up, not top-down (such as America’s is).
Here, therefore, is the actual performance [number of cases per million population], thus far, of both of those two countries:
DENMARK = 1,329 peaked April 7th
SWEDEN = 1,517 peaked April 8th
Both of them are reasonably comparable to Germany, UK, Turkey, and Iran, but not as good as S. Korea, and not nearly as good as the two best, China and Japan.
As of the start of the day on May 10th, those numbers are:
DENMARK = 1,782 (up 34%)
SWEDEN = 2,567 (up 69%)
Consequently, as more time passes, Denmark’s policy is considerably more effective at keeping down the number of cases than is Sweden’s.
Furthermore: whereas Sweden had tested only 14,704 persons per million (which is a very low percentage), Denmark had tested 53,345 per million (which is an extremely high percentage), and this fact likewise indicates that whereas Sweden, which has been reducing its socialism and increasing its libertarianism, is pursuing a remarkably libertarian approach to Covid-19, Denmark, which remains socialistic, is pursuing a remarkably socialist approach. And Denmark’s approach is increasingly better than Sweden’s in terms of keeping down the percentage of Covid-19 cases.
As regards the economies of those two countries: The unemployment rate in Denmark at the end of March 2020 was 4.1% and that was 170,000 unemployed; and as of May 5th there are 180,000 unemployed Danes; so, Denmark’s productivity hasn’t been much affected yet by Covid 19.
By contrast: Reuters headlined on April 14th, “Swedish unemployment rate could reach 10% by summer – Labour Board”, and reported that “Unemployment in Sweden could reach 10% in the coming months if the current wave of lay-offs due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus continues, the Labour Board said. … Unemployment was 7.4% in February, but many companies have since shut down and sent workers home due to supply chain problems and measures to prevent the spread of the virus.” On May 7th, the Wall Street Journal bannered “Sweden Has Avoided a Coronavirus Lockdown. Its Economy Is Hurting Anyway.”
Consequently, the newly libertarian Sweden’s coronavirus policies, as compared to the still-socialistic Denmark’s, are actually a disaster — like America’s are (though America, being more libertarian than Sweden, is doing even worse).
In other words: the supposed either-or choice (trade-off) that the libertarian U.S. regime and its propagandists assert, between either controlling the epidemic (continuing the “lockdowns” etc.) or else preventing economic collapse (“reopening the businesses” etc.), is fraudulent. The exact opposite is the actual case: in order to minimize the economic damage, controlling the epidemic is basic — whatever is sound policy for the public’s health is also sound economic policy. (America’s libertarian President takes on faith the opposite viewpoint; and, so, on May 10th, the Washington Post reported that, “Trump has expressed confidence that lifting public health restrictions will jump-start the economy.” The only basis for accepting libertarianism is faith, because the empirical evidence disproves it — and not only on this matter.)
What, then, is the situation regarding the three major countries that are doing the most effective job of keeping down the percentage of their population that’s Covid-19 infected: China (58 cases per million), South Korea (211) , and Japan (123)? (Note those stunningly low numbers — and each one of those countries is well past its peak of daily new cases, which the libertarian countries are not.)
America’s propaganda organizations blame China for the coronavirus-19 and criticize anyone who publicly advocates China’s model on this, but as more time passes and the U.S. regime’s accusations against China continue to be ‘documented’ only by half-truths and outright lies, a public need increases that what China’s policies actually have been regarding controlling this epidemic become accurately understood. On May 9th, the South China Morning Post bannered “Coronavirus response: China’s military may have filled the gap left by the US but it’s only temporary, experts say”, and ignored even touching upon what China’s policy is and has been regarding coronavirus. On May 8th, they headlined “Coronavirus: China to revive special ‘off-budget bonds’ as pandemic stokes debt dilemma” and said little more than that the Government’s debts were increasing due to the virus: “‘Off-budget doesn’t mean it can be excluded from the overall debt level,’ said David Wang, head of China economics at Credit Suisse.” How that money is being spent is not discussed, other than “increasing the limit for local governments to issue bonds for infrastructure spending.” To the extent that there is specifically a coronavirus policy-response, rather than merely a continuation or amplification of pre-existing economic policies, that’s not mentioned. There are merely ‘filler’ statements, such as “The central government has not announced how the proceeds from the special treasury bonds will be used, but analysts warn they will be wasted if funneled to projects that do not make economic sense.” Whatever China’s specific coronavirus-19 policy-responses are is non-public information.
Back on 28 March 2017, the America-based SupChina site headlined “How Does Healthcare In The U.S. Compare With China’s?” and reported that “More than 97 percent of people in China use public health insurance systems” and patients who had experienced both America’s and China’s said that “receiving treatment in the U.S. is less efficient” but “that sometimes patients in China simply can’t see a doctor without the help of a scalper.” At least a reasonable assumption would be that China is more socialistic in its coronavirus policies than are the vast majority of other countries, which have dramatically worse coronavirus results.
South Korea has done remarkably little coronavirus-19 testing, but remarkably much coronavirus contact tracing (if that can even be effectively done with such little testing). So, the situation there isn’t much clearer than it is in China.
Japan has, apparently, been socialistic in its policy-response but relying far more on the public’s voluntary compliance than on law-enforcement in order to reduce to a minimum the number of coronavirus cases. Of course, in a country such as the U.S. and throughout Latin America — lands where the government is widely distrusted — any compliance whatsoever relies necessarily upon law-enforcement, and so the Japanese method would almost certainly not work.
All three of those countries are, of course, culturally Asian; so, their vastly superior handling of the coronavirus maybe isn’t due ONLY to their being more socialistic than the U.S. and other failing countries are. They are all non-Western nations.
As of May 10th, two countries that have approximately half the population-size of the smallest of those three (which is the 52 million population in South Korea) also have stunningly low Covid-19 infection-rates and seem likewise to have passed the peak in the number of their daily new cases: Taiwan has a population of 25 million, and has only 18 cases per million; Venezuela has 30 million and only 14 cases per million. Both nations also have socialized the healthcare function and (like all of the countries mentioned here except U.S.) 100% of the people there have health insurance. (It’s a right, not a privilege, in all of the countries except America.) As regards the percentage of people who have been tested for Covid-19, that percentage is 2,819 per million in Taiwan, and 18,012 per million in Venezuela. (For a few comparisons: it’s 1,676/M in Japan, 54,873/M in Denmark, 14,704/M in Sweden, and 28,452/M in U.S. So: the percentage who have been tested seems not to correlate with a nation’s success or failure in dealing with Covid-19.)
The indications, thus far, are that the libertarian approach (which is exemplified especially in today’s U.S., UK, and most of Latin America) is catastrophic, and that whatever may have been its alleged benefits in a pre-Covid-19 world, only intensification of its propaganda (such as by the ‘news’-media in those more-libertarian countries) can continue it into the post-Covid-19 world. Libertarianism is, now, more clearly than ever before, a failed model.
Why would that be? Perhaps it’s because, in reality, the only people who have more liberty under libertarianism are the controlling owners of corporations, the wealthiest 1% (who fund the politicians and the media), whereas everybody else has less actual liberty, and more insecurity, under libertarianism — the fact is, libertarianism is liberty ONLY for the richest, and the opposite for everybody else: it is aristocracy, instead of democracy. It’s for only the big-corporate owners, and especially for the international-corporate owners.
The economic future for the world, and especially for the U.S., is bad, and not only because of this plague. On April 14th, I headlined “Why at Least America Will Be in Another Great Depression”, and explained it there in one way; on May 1st, The Saker headlined “The Saker interviews Michael Hudson about the current economic crisis”, and Hudson explained it there in another way — these are different sides of the same phenomenon, but our analyses are the same (except that he is more optimistic than I: he said “The current depression is the worst since the 1930s,” whereas I expect it to be the worst ever). My article was simply focusing on the way that the coronavirus-crisis is going to expedite what I expect to be the biggest economic crash in world history. Hudson said that “We are at the end of the 75-year upswing that began in 1945 when the war ended.” I agree with that, too, and have elsewhere identified 26 July 1945 as the commencement of this pillaging by the Deep State, via its millions of employees and other agents. This will be the ultimate near-term catastrophe of libertarianism, otherwise called “neoliberalism,” and in international affairs this pillaging is called “neoconservatism” and “imperialism.” America therefore stands now at the precipice, facing a grim new world, and that is how we got here. Coronavirus merely expedites the fall off this cliff. But the ascent to such an extremely bad end started, actually, on 26 July 1945. That’s when the fateful decision was made, from which the post-WW-II world became irrevocably shaped — the foundation was laid at that time, for America’s Deep State (America’s billionaires, not the CIA and not the think tanks, but themselves, who actually pull the strings behind the curtain) to take over the country and almost the entire world, and for an even worse Depression than the one that FDR had inherited from Herbert Hoover. America’s taxpayers now pay around half of global military expenditures, and the bill for its billionaires to use their government so as to grab and hold control over that vast American empire is now coming due. Nothing like this has ever existed before. And Covid-19 simply expedites the coming American free-fall.
Early Elections in Canada: Will the Fourth Wave Get in the Way?
On August 15, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Liberal Party, announced an early parliamentary election and scheduled it for September 20, 2021. Canadian legislation allows the federal government to be in power up to 5 years, so normally, the elections should have been held in 2023. However, the government has the right to call early elections at any time. This year, there will be 36 days for the pre-election campaigns.
At the centre of the Liberals’ election campaign is the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic in Canada and the economic recovery. The coronavirus has also become a motivator for early elections. In his statement, Justin Trudeau emphasised that “Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against COVID-19 and build back better. Canadians deserve their say, and that’s exactly what we are going to give them.” Thus, the main declared goal of the Liberals is to get a vote of confidence from the public for the continuation of the measures taken by the government.
The goal, which the prime minister did not voice, is the desire of the Liberal Party to win an absolute majority in the Parliament. In the 2019 elections, the Liberals won 157 seats, which allowed them to form a minority government, which is forced to seek the support of opposition parties when making decisions.
The somewhat risky move of the Liberals can be explained. The Liberals decided to take advantage of the high ratings of the ruling party and the prime minister at the moment, associated with a fairly successful anti-COVID policy, hoping that a high level of vaccination (according to official data, 71% of the Canadian population, who have no contraindications, are fully vaccinated and the emerging post-pandemic economic recovery will help it win a parliamentary majority.
Opinion polls show that the majority of Canadians approve Trudeau’s strategy to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Between the 2019 elections and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trudeau’s government was unpopular, with ratings below 30%. Unlike Donald Trump, Trudeau’s approval rating soared after the outbreak of the pandemic to 55%. During the election campaign, the rating of the Liberal Party decreased and was 31.6% on September 16, which reduces the chances of a landslide victory.
Trudeau left unanswered the question of whether he’d resign if his party fails to win an absolute majority in the elections.
Leaders of opposition parties—the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party—criticised Trudeau’s decision to call early elections, considering the decision inappropriate for the timing and situation with regard to the risk of the fourth wave of the coronavirus epidemic. They stressed that the government’s primary task should be taking measures to combat the pandemic and restore the economy, rather than trying to hold onto power.
The on-going pandemic will change the electoral process. In the event of a fourth wave, priority will be given to postal voting. Liberal analysts are concerned that the registration process to submit ballots by mail could stop their supporters from voting, thereby undermining Trudeau’s drive to reclaim a majority government. However, postal voting is the least popular among voters of the Conservative Party, and slightly more popular among voters of the Liberal and New Democratic parties. The timeframe for vote-counting will be increased. While ballots are usually counted on the morning after election day, it can take up to five days for postal voting.
One of the key and most attractive campaign messages of the Liberal Party is the reduction of the average cost of childcare services. Liberals have promised to resolve this issue for many years, but no active action has been taken. Justin Trudeau noted that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of this issue.
As in the 2019 elections, the Liberal Party’s key rival will be the Conservative Party, led by new leader Erin O’Toole. The Conservative Party’s rating a five days before the election was 31.3%. Conservatives suggest a different approach to childcare—providing a refundable child tax subsidy that covers up to 75% of the cost of kindergarten for low-income families. Trudeau has been harshly criticised by the Conservatives in connection with the scale of spending under his leadership, especially during the pandemic, and because of billion-dollar promises. In general, the race will not be easy for the conservative O’Toole. This is the first time he is running for the post of prime minister, in contrast to Justin Trudeau. Moreover, the Conservative Party of Canada is split from within, and the candidate is faced with the task of consolidating the party. The Conservative will have to argue against the billion-dollar promises which were made by the ruling Liberals before the elections.
The leaders of the other parties have chances to increase their seats in Parliament compared to the results of the 2019 elections, but they can hardly expect to receive the necessary number of votes to form a government. At the same time, the personal popularity of Jagmeet Singh, the candidate from the New Democratic Party, is growing, especially among young people. The level of his popularity at the end of August was 19.8%. Singh intends to do everything possible to steal progressive voters from the Liberal Party and prevent the formation of a Liberal-majority government. Singh will emphasise the significant role of the NDP under the minority government in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight that it was the New Democratic Party that was able to influence government decisions and measures to support the population during the pandemic.
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, whose popularity level was 6.6%, intends to increase the Bloc’s presence in Parliament and prevent the loss of votes in the province of Quebec in favour of the Liberal Party. According to him, it is fundamentally important to protect the French language and the ideas of secularism. The Bloc Québécois is also not interested in the formation of a majority government by the Liberals.
Green Party leader Annamie Paul is in a difficult position due to internal party battles. Moreover, her rating is low: 3.5%. Higher party officials have even tried to pass a no-confidence vote against her. Annamie Paul’s goal is, in principle, to get a seat in Parliament in order to be able to take part in voting on important political issues. The Greens are focused on climate change problems, the principles of social justice, assistance to the most needy segments of the population, and the fight against various types of discrimination.
Traditionally, foreign policy remains a peripheral topic of the election campaign in Canada. This year, the focus will be on combating the COVID-19 epidemic, developing the social sphere, and economic recovery, which will push foreign policy issues aside even further.
The outcome of the elections will not have a significant impact on Russian-Canadian relations. An all-party anti-Russian consensus has developed in Canada; none of the parties have expressed any intention of developing a dialogue with Russia.
From our partner RIAC
Interpreting the Biden Doctrine: The View From Moscow
It is the success or failure of remaking America, not Afghanistan, that will determine not just the legacy of the Biden administration, but the future of the United States itself.
The newly unveiled Biden doctrine, which renounces the United States’ post-9/11 policies of remaking other societies and building nations abroad, is a foreign policy landmark. Coming on the heels of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, it exudes credibility. Indeed, President Biden’s moves essentially formalize and finalize processes that have been under way for over a decade. It was Barack Obama who first pledged to end America’s twin wars—in Iraq and Afghanistan—started under George W. Bush. It was Donald Trump who reached an agreement with the Taliban on a full U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Both Obama and Trump also sought, albeit in strikingly different ways, to redirect Washington’s attention to shoring up the home base.
It is important for the rest of the world to treat the change in U.S. foreign policy correctly. Leaving Afghanistan was the correct strategic decision, if grossly overdue and bungled in the final phases of its implementation. Afghanistan certainly does not mean the end of the United States as a global superpower; it simply continues to be in relative and slow decline. Nor does it spell the demise of American alliances and partnerships. Events in Afghanistan are unlikely to produce a political earthquake within the United States that would topple President Biden. No soul searching of the kind that Americans experienced during the Vietnam War is likely to emerge. Rather, Washington is busy recalibrating its global involvement. It is focusing even more on strengthening the home base. Overseas, the United States is moving from a global crusade in the name of democracy to an active defense of liberal values at home and Western positions abroad.
Afghanistan has been the most vivid in a long series of arguments that persuaded Biden’s White House that a global triumph of liberal democracy is not achievable in the foreseeable future. Thus, remaking problematic countries—“draining the swamp” that breeds terrorism, in the language of the Bush administration—is futile. U.S. military force is a potent weapon, but no longer the means of first resort. The war on terror as an effort to keep the United States safe has been won: in the last twenty years, no major terrorist attacks occurred on U.S. soil. Meantime, the geopolitical, geoeconomic, ideological, and strategic focus of U.S. foreign policy has shifted. China is the main—some say, existential—challenger, and Russia the principal disrupter. Iran, North Korea, and an assortment of radical or extremist groups complete the list of adversaries. Climate change and the pandemic have risen to the top of U.S. security concerns. Hence, the most important foreign policy task is to strengthen the collective West under strong U.S. leadership.
The global economic recession that originated in the United States in 2007 dealt a blow to the U.S.-created economic and financial model; the severe domestic political crisis of 2016–2021 undermined confidence in the U.S. political system and its underlying values; and the COVID-19 disaster that hit the United States particularly hard have all exposed serious political, economic, and cultural issues and fissures within American society and polity. Neglecting the home base while engaging in costly nation-building exercises abroad came at a price. Now the Biden administration has set out to correct that with huge infrastructure development projects and support for the American middle class.
America’s domestic crises, some of the similar problems in European countries, and the growing gap between the United States and its allies during the Trump presidency have produced widespread fears that China and Russia could exploit those issues to finally end U.S. dominance and even undermine the United States and other Western societies from within. This perception is behind the strategy reversal from spreading democracy as far and wide as Russia and China to defending the U.S.-led global system and the political regimes around the West, including in the United States, from Beijing and Moscow.
That said, what are the implications of the Biden doctrine? The United States remains a superpower with enormous resources which is now trying to use those resources to make itself stronger. America has reinvented itself before and may well be able to do so again. In foreign policy, Washington has stepped back from styling itself as the world’s benign hegemon to assume the combat posture of the leader of the West under attack.
Within the collective West, U.S. dominance is not in danger. None of the Western countries are capable of going it alone or forming a bloc with others to present an alternative to U.S. leadership. Western and associated elites remain fully beholden to the United States. What they desire is firm U.S. leadership; what they fear is the United States withdrawing into itself. As for Washington’s partners in the regions that are not deemed vital to U.S. interests, they should know that American support is conditional on those interests and various circumstances. Nothing new there, really: just ask some leaders in the Middle East. For now, however, Washington vows to support and assist exposed partners like Ukraine and Taiwan.
Embracing isolationism is not on the cards in the United States. For all the focus on domestic issues, global dominance or at least primacy has firmly become an integral part of U.S. national identity. Nor will liberal and democratic ideology be retired as a major driver of U.S. foreign policy. The United States will not become a “normal” country that only follows the rules of realpolitik. Rather, Washington will use values as a glue to further consolidate its allies and as a weapon to attack its adversaries. It helps the White House that China and Russia are viewed as malign both across the U.S. political spectrum and among U.S. allies and partners, most of whom have fears or grudges against either Moscow or Beijing.
In sum, the Biden doctrine does away with engagements that are no longer considered promising or even sustainable by Washington; funnels more resources to address pressing domestic issues; seeks to consolidate the collective West around the United States; and sharpens the focus on China and Russia as America’s main adversaries. Of all these, the most important element is domestic. It is the success or failure of remaking America, not Afghanistan, that will determine not just the legacy of the Biden administration, but the future of the United States itself.
From our partner RIAC
AUKUS aims to perpetuate the Anglo-Saxon supremacy
On September 15, U.S. President Joe Biden worked with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison together to unveil a trilateral alliance among Australia-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS), which are the major three among the Anglo-Saxon nations (also including Canada and New Zealand). Literally, each sovereign state has full right to pursue individual or collective security and common interests. Yet, the deal has prompted intense criticism across the world including the furious words and firm acts from the Atlantic allies in Europe, such as France that is supposed to lose out on an $40-billion submarine deal with Australia to its Anglo-Saxon siblings—the U.K. and the U.S.
Some observers opine that AUKUS is another clear attempt by the U.S. and its allies aggressively to provoke China in the Asia-Pacific, where Washington had forged an alliance along with Japan, India and Australia in the name of the Quad. AUKUS is the latest showcase that three Anglo-Saxon powers have pretended to perpetuate their supremacy in all the key areas such as geopolitics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. In short, the triple deal is a move designed to discourage or thwart any future Chinese bid for regional hegemony. But diplomatically its impacts go beyond that. As French media argued that the United States, though an ally of France, just backstabs it by negotiating AUKUS in secret without revealing the plan. Given this, the deal among AUKUS actually reflects the mentality of the Anglo-Saxon nations’ superiority over others even if they are not outrageously practicing an imperialist policy in the traditional way.
Historically, there are only two qualified global powers which the Europeans still sometimes refer to as “Anglo-Saxon” powers: Great Britain and the United States. As Walter Mead once put it that the British Empire was, and the United States is, concerned not just with the balance of power in one particular corner of the world, but with the evolution of what it is today called “world order”. Now with the rise of China which has aimed to become a global power with its different culture and political views from the current ruling powers, the Anglo-Saxon powers have made all efforts to align with the values-shared allies or partners to create the strong bulwarks against any rising power, like China and Russia as well. Physically, either the British Empire or the United States did or does establish a worldwide system of trade and finance which have enabled the two Anglo-Saxon powers to get rich and advanced in high-technologies. As a result, those riches and high-tech means eventually made them execute the power to project their military force that ensure the stability of their-dominated international systems. Indeed the Anglo-Saxon powers have had the legacies to think of their global goals which must be bolstered by money and foreign trade that in turn produces more wealth. Institutionally, the Anglo-Saxon nations in the world—the U.S., the U.K, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—have formed the notorious “Five eyes alliance” to collect all sorts of information and data serving their common core interests and security concerns.
This is not just rhetoric but an objective reflection of the mentality as Australian Foreign Minister Payne candidly revealed at the press conference where she said that the contemporary state of their alliance “is well suited to cooperate on countering economic coercion.” The remarks imply that AUKUS is a military response to the rising economic competition from China because politics and economics are intertwined with each other in power politics, in which military means acts in order to advance self-interested economic ends. In both geopolitical and geoeconomic terms, the rise of China, no matter how peaceful it is, has been perceived as the “systematic” challenges to the West’s domination of international relations and global economy, in which the Anglo-Saxon superiority must remain. Another case is the U.S. efforts to have continuously harassed the Nord Stream 2 project between Russia and Germany.
Yet, in the global community of today, any superpower aspiring for pursuing “inner clique” like AUKUS will be doomed to fail. First, we all are living in the world “where the affairs of each country are decided by its own people, and international affairs are run by all nations through consultation,” as President Xi put it. Due to this, many countries in Asia warn that AUKUS risks provoking a nuclear arms race in the Asian-Pacific region. The nuclear factor means that the U.S. efforts to economically contain China through AUKUS on nationalist pretexts are much more dangerous than the run-up to World War I. Yet, neither the United States nor China likes to be perceived as “disturbing the peace” that Asian countries are eager to preserve. In reality, Asian countries have also made it clear not to take either side between the power politics.
Second, AUKUS’s deal jeopardizes the norms of international trade and treaties. The reactions of third parties is one key issue, such as the French government is furious about the deal since it torpedoes a prior Australian agreement to purchase one dozen of conventional subs from France. Be aware that France is a strong advocate for a more robust European Union in the world politics. Now the EU is rallying behind Paris as in Brussels EU ambassadors agreed to postpone preparations for an inaugural trade and technology council on September 29 with the U.S. in Pittsburgh. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared in a strong manner that “since one of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we need to know what happened and why.” Michael Roth, Germany’s minister for European affairs, went even further as he put it, “It is once again a wake-up call for all of us in the European Union to ask ourselves how we can strengthen our sovereignty, how we can present a united front even on issues relevant to foreign and security policy.” It is the time for the EU to talk with one voice and for the need to work together to rebuild mutual trust among the allies.
Third, the deal by AUKUS involves the nuclear dimension. It is true that the three leaders have reiterated that the deal would be limited to the transfer of nuclear propulsion technology (such as reactors to power the new subs) but not nuclear weapons technology. Accordingly, Australia remains a non-nuclear country not armed with such weapons. But from a proliferation standpoint, that is a step in the direction of more extensive nuclear infrastructure. It indicates the United States and the U.K. are willing to transfer highly sensitive technologies to close allies. But the issue of deterrence in Asia-and especially extended deterrence-is extremely complicated since it will become ore so as China’s nuclear arsenal expands. If the security environment deteriorates in the years ahead, U.S. might consider allowing its core allies to gain nuclear capabilities and Australia is able to gain access to this technology as its fleet expands. Yet, it also means that Australia is not a non-nuclear country any more.
In brief, the deal itself and the triple alliance among AUKUS will take some years to become a real threat to China or the ruling authorities of the country. But the deal announced on Sept. 15 will complicate Chinese efforts to maintain a peaceful rise and act a responsible power. Furthermore, the deal and the rationales behind it is sure to impede China’s good-will to the members of AUKUS and the Quad, not mention of their irresponsible effects on peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
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