New threat of imperialist nuclear war amid climate danger!
Hot on the heels of the US cutting its losses in Afghanistan in August, comes the formation of AUKUS, a new imperialist bloc between the United States, Britain and Australia, transparently to target China in the Asia-Pacific region. This carries a potent war threat for the future to try to preserve US world dominance and exposes completely the nonsense being talked by Biden et al about doing something about climate change. They prefer a good old dose of aggressive nuclear blackmail with the threat of a nuclear holocaust. As does British Labour’s execrable imperialist thug leader Starmer, who saluted this in the House of Commons and seemed even more enthused about it than Johnson himself. So much for fighting for human and ecological survival. Fighting for the hegemony of the US and its lackeys over the workers and oppressed of the world is much more important for such reactionary rabble.
This is evidently the second part of the Biden plan to reorient US imperialism to the Far East to confront what it sees as its most important adversary on a global level. It appears above all to be a nuclear submarine pact, and Australia will be building a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines in Adelaide with mainly US technology. Apparently, the submarines will be armed with long-range missiles, but not nukes, as that would be a major breach of the Non-Proliferation treaty. But nevertheless, the aim is to harass China with submarine activity off its own coastline and put military pressure. US and potentially British nuclear submarines will be leased to Australia in the interim until its own dedicated fleet is ready, so this could well be up and running much earlier than the construction schedule suggests. China has warned that such behavior could even result in nuclear retaliation against Australia.
This development seems for the moment have silenced the Trumpians screaming about Biden’s abrupt implementation of Trump’s Afghanistan withdrawal agreement last month. Indeed, Biden’s move appears positively Trumpian itself, and is likely calculated to wrong-foot his far-right critics – by stealing some of their clothes and appropriating aspects of the strategy they would like to be carrying out – before they have chance to try this out, so Biden and the Democrats can present it as their idea. But this is not just a cynical triangulation maneuver for domestic reasons.
The fact is that the US might be the imperialist hegemon, but it is a declining hegemon. One major index of US decline is that it was even humiliated by its economy being kept afloat by Chinese money when its banking system teetered on the brink of collapse in 2008-9. An intolerable situation for an imperialist world hegemon! Recent wars and conflicts in the Middle East have exacerbated and highlighted its decline. Some of Trump’s sporadic rhetoric about puling the US out of conflicts in the Middle East and the Muslim world – together with his Muslim ban on immigration – also reflected a desire for the US to cut its losses in such conflicts and focus on China as the main enemy. But Trump had his own entanglements in the Middle East and could not follow up on his rhetoric about this in part because of his extremely close relationship with the Israel lobby, which directly sponsored his presidency to implement their policies over Jerusalem, Golan and other annexations, while hoping that he would attack Iran on their behalf.
Biden, who is not as deeply entangled with the Zionists as Trump was, has more freedom to pursue aggressive initiatives like AUKUS in the wider world, outside the restrictive focus that excessive subservience to the Lobby dictates. AUKUS, as a Far-Eastern geopolitical initiative with a global span, can be considered a more ‘pure’ expression of the current interests of US imperialism than some of its recent conflicts. Hence Biden is likely onto a winner on this domestically, as long as nothing goes spectacularly wrong in the short term.
Biden’s speech about the withdrawal from Afghanistan, made it very clear that the purpose of the withdrawal was to clear the decks for a renewed drive against China and Russia:
“We are in fierce competition with China. We have dealt with challenges from Russia in many ways. We are facing cyber attacks and nuclear proliferation. We must strengthen the competitiveness of the United States to meet these new challenges in the 21st century competition.
We can attack on both sides: while fighting terrorism, while dealing with current and new threats that will continue to exist in the future. In this competition, China and Russia are eager to let the United States fall into the quagmire of Afghanistan for another decade.
When we turn to the page that has guided our country’s foreign policy for the past two decades, we must learn from our mistakes. For me, there are two crucial lessons: First, we must set tasks with clear achievable goals, not goals that we can never achieve. Second, we must clearly focus on America’s most fundamental national security interests.
This decision about Afghanistan is not only about Afghanistan. This is about the end of a major military operation aimed at reshaping other countries.”Transcript from https://min.news/en/military/6b4ee937cdec529099afa07aefc529cc.html
The formation of AUKUS drew a strong rebuke from China’ Foreign Minister Zhao Lijian on 16 Sept:
“The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts. The export of highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia by the US and the UK proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards. This is extremely irresponsible. As a non-nuclear weapon state under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and a party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, Australia is now introducing nuclear submarine technology of strategic and military value. …”https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/2511_665403/t1907498.shtml
But what is also quite sinister is that all three of the states involved in AUKUS have a common central ethnic core. Which is a new development in recent history. All the components of this alliance have major records of hostility to and atrocities against East Asians and Chinese people in particular. “Yellow Peril” racism is both ancient and recent in the US, and the Trump/Biden repeated attempts to blame China – where the disease may (or may not) have originated – for the Covid-19 Pandemic, have the character of racist war propaganda. Britain’s record of colonizing China from the Opium wars onward is obvious, and “White Australia” nationalism has from the beginnings of Australia as a genocidal white colony defined itself against the masses of Asia to the North, China being one of the post powerful potential adversaries. And of course, the recent political evolution of Britain under the Brexit regime of Johnson has been one of rampant official xenophobia and racism. The Brexiters would like to expand the navy and ‘rule the waves’, but have no hope of anything of the sort except as lackeys of the US.
Notwithstanding the disingenuous claims by these imperialists that they are countering Chinese ‘bullying’ of states like Vietnam and the Philippines who have disputes with China in the region of the South China Sea, everyone knows this is about the US, as world imperialist hegemon, with its lackey states, trying to reassert its hegemony. The Anglo-Saxon makeup of this bloc is provocative.
The ethnic aspect of AUKUS has caused major unease in Europe, particularly France. It has its material pretext, but there is more than that involved in the sentiments expressed. In order to be part of the new nuclear submarine pact, Australia tore up a $66 billion dollar deal for France to supply them with 12 non-nuclear, diesel-powered submarines. But French anger is not just about this submarine deal. French President Macron used the dramatic diplomatic device of recalling French Ambassadors from Washington and Canberra.
The French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves le Drian said the following about the US and Australia:
“That is why I say there has been duplicity, contempt and lies, and when you have an ally of the stature of France, you don’t treat them like that….When we see the US president with the Australian prime minister announce a new agreement, with Boris Johnson, the breach of trust is profound. In a real alliance you talk to each other, you don’t hide things, you respect the other party, and that is why this is a real crisis.”Guardian, 18 Sept
Even more contempt was reserved for Johnson, as another French official said “The UK accompanied this operation opportunistically. We do not need to consult in Paris with our ambassador to know what to think and what conclusions to draw from it.” (ibid). L’Albion Perfide is taken as read again. And a former British Ambassador to France added:
“There is a deep sense of betrayal in France because this wasn’t just an arms contract, this was France setting up a strategic partnership with Australia and the Australians have now thrown that away and negotiated behind the backs of France with two Nato allies, the US and UK, to replace it with a completely different contract.
“For the French this looks like a complete failure of trust between allies and calls into doubt what is Nato for. This puts a big rift down the middle of the Nato alliance … Britain needs a functioning Nato alliance. I think people underestimated the impact that this would have in France and how this would seem as a humiliation and betrayal in a year President Macron is running for election in a very tight race with the far right.”ibid
The reason that the US is inclined to do things like this that undermine NATO has causes that go back to the Cold War. The refusal of France and particularly Germany, for instance, to sign up fully for Reagan and Thatcher’s early 1980s nuclear crusade was simply because the core countries of Europe have solid material interest in a degree of collaboration with countries like the USSR and today’s post-Soviet Russia that resist the US’ aspirations to dominate the world. Such things as cheap plentiful sources of energy from Russia are of particular importance. They preferred to undermine the workers states through economic penetration than crude military pressure. Today with post- Soviet capitalist Russia, which is currently allied in effect with post-Maoist capitalist China in an informal non-imperialist bloc, they are even less keen on nuclear brinkmanship.
Which has the tendency to marginalize NATO in the European theatre. Given China’s economic and military power this tends to shift the theatre of potential conflict of this type away from Europe, which undermines NATO’s raison d’être. US decline makes it more difficult to pressure other powers into line and so, NATO becomes less central and can be considerably undermined as it seems to be here. This is accentuated by China’s new infrastructure projects in Asia like Belt and Road that appear to be creating a counterweight to US hegemony with even more incentive for some of the European powers to hedge their bets on Washington’s increasingly desperate attempts to preserve its position. Apart from Washington’s unsinkable aircraft carrier centred in London of course.
This is not a simple development, and its early days yet, but the position of Marxists regarding it is straightforward: we oppose it tooth and nail, as we oppose NATO and all other imperialist alliances of this type. We are not for preserving NATO, if this does prove to be the disintegrative force that some surmise, but equally we oppose this as a putative replacement alliance. We are for the defence of China and other non-imperialist countries against the war drive that is evidently behind this and for the defeat of AUKUS in any future conflict with the non-imperialist states targeted. It is also a sign, when human civilization is being put in increasing danger by capitalist-induced climate change, the real priority of imperialism is hegemony and its own survival even though countless deaths through war and counterrevolution. This war drive needs to be smashed by the world proletariat, led by a new revolutionary communist movement that our comrades are seeking ways to build.