America and Europe’s subplot caught against the tide
The AUKUS security partnership is much more than America and Britain sharing nuclear propulsion technology with Australia. AUKUS is a global defense system it also includes the sharing of cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence and quantum computing. While AUKUS allows the United States to expand its balancing coalition against China and has huge benefits for Australia, there are long-term consequences for Europe.
First, AUKUS responds to Australia’s immediate concerns about China’s territorial ambitions in the South china sea and his Belt and road initiative. In recent years, Australia has blocked Chinese companies from buying companies and banned Chinese Huawei of its 5G networks. In response, China has made aggressive efforts diplomatic tactics of the wolf warriors which range from imposing tariffs on Australian food and coal to war crimes and racism charges and boycotting Australia after calling for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19. AUKUS is increasing the costs for China to continue to pressure Australia and other states in the region.
Second, AUKUS will extend Australia’s decades-long relationship with the United States, which dates back to the early 1950s, when the two signed a mutual defense agreement with New Zealand. AUKUS also places the “Quad” or Quadrilateral Safety Dialogue at the center of the US-led balancing coalition against China.
While many believed that the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan showed that the United States was becoming less engaged in the world, AUKUS reveals otherwise. The Biden administration plans to devote US resources to engaging in intense economic and security competition with China. America’s success or failure depends on multilateral cooperation and diplomatic engagement with its allies and partners. The United States had to withdraw from Afghanistan and end the war in Iraq to lessen the number of distractions. Expect more flexible and informal multilateral agreements and less unilateral military intervention.
Therefore, the Biden administration believes that the geopolitical competition of the United States with China is a much higher priority than NATO and Europe. The fact that the United States did not hesitate to undermine another NATO member from France $66 submarine contract with Australia is proof that America’s decade-long effort to pivot to Asia is a reality. Also, undermining France inhibits the president Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronUN agency to pay salaries of Afghan healthcare workers overnight Defense and National Security – US tries to reestablish ties with France Kerry: Biden “was not fully aware” of the impact of the agreement on submarines on France PLUS continue European strategic autonomy and made France an intermediate power.
Leaving France aside sends an important and disturbing message to U.S. NATO allies: They must decide whether they are aligned with the United States in their geopolitical competition with China. If they are, they must balance against China on America’s terms. If not or if they are negotiating in a sensitive manner dual-use technologies and artificial intelligence with China against American interests, they will be cut off. The United States now judges its NATO allies through a transactional lens.
France and Germany are in a difficult situation. While many NATO and EU members are inclined to align with the United States, France and Germany have important trade relations with China, which they simply cannot s ‘remove. Under Angela Merkel, Germany the expansion of trade with China and the orientation of EU policy towards Asia-Pacific. Macron resurrected EU trade relations with China and in 2019 hit $ 15 billion in trade deals with President Xi, much to the chagrin of the United States
Expect Germany and France to stay on top of the fray for as long as possible. As Macron said ahead of the AKUS announcement, “A situation to unite against China is a scenario of the highest possible conflict.”
Germany and France prefer to have good relations with the United States and China. As members of NATO, they benefit from the American security umbrella. As members of the EU, they benefit from the economic opportunities offered by the expansion of trade relations with China.
When Biden was elected, some European capitals expected him to strengthen transatlantic relations. As Biden said, “America is back.” But the honeymoon is over and the geopolitical realities are apparent. It was one thing for America’s European allies to worry about Trump’s “America First”. However, they didn’t expect Biden to move so quickly to rebalance US resources to contain China and undermine a NATO member in the process.
America’s level of indifference shows that Europe has become less important in the American geopolitical calculation. In addition, the United States can get away with relegating NATO to the sidelines because most members have no other security alternative. While China may claim to have driven a wedge between the United States and Europe, make no mistake, with AUKUS, the United States is working overtime to contain China through multilateral engagement. And he’s ready to throw a NATO ally under the bus. VS‘is life.
Chris J. Dolan, Ph.D., is professor of political science and director of the master’s program in intelligence and security studies at Lebanon Valley College