AUKUS is a dud deal. We’re safer on our own

The devil is in the details. Now that the Australian public is privy to the details of the AUKUS submarine deal, it’s clear what a Faustian bargain it is.

As an Australian who has lived for many years in the United States and covered the consequences of American foreign policy around the globe, I can’t think of a worse time to be further entangling Australian defence policy with that of the US.

President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 should have been a warning to take a step back, rather than towards, greater military alignment with the United States. It is now unnervingly clear that we survived four years of erratic, uninformed, ego-driven leadership only because of the haphazard efforts of underlings to remove documents from the president’s desk, create informal back channels with military rivals and slow-walk his worst edicts.

The presidency of a steady centrist such as Joe Biden may prove to be no more than a breather. His age is alarmingly high, his poll numbers concerningly low.

Forty per cent of Americans, and a staggering 70 per cent of Republicans, believe the lie that he is an illegitimate president and that the 2020 election was stolen. This is the nation, a huge section of its population untethered from the reach of truth, to which Australia just zip-tied its military. Trump is running for president again. As of now, he is his party’s frontrunner.

If he, or one of his arguably even more dangerous hallelujah chorus is elected, America’s far-right tilt will become steeper, the country’s divisions more bitter and potentially violent, its xenophobic posture towards much of the rest of the world even more pronounced.

Anthony Albanese with US President Joe Biden at last week’s AUKUS submarine announcement in San Diego.


We’ve jumped into every foxhole the US has chosen to dig, with dire consequences for our soldiers abroad and for social cohesion at home. The next conflict may be even more misbegotten and tragic than Iraq or Vietnam. Will we be able to resist entanglement? There’s no reason to think so. We never have.

These eye-wateringly expensive submarines, probably manned in part by American troops, will not make it easier to do so. Consider the erosion of voting rights in key states such as Georgia and Florida. The closing of polling places in black neighbourhoods and on college campuses, the purging of voter rolls, the long lines, the criminalisation of even offering water to waiting voters amounts to suppression on a level unseen since the Jim Crow era.

And as the foundation of democracy is gnawed away, the pinnacle also totters, with a Supreme Court stacked with archconservatives and Catholic ayatollahs. The risk of American democracy slipping into autocracy should be extremely concerning to a centre-left leader like Anthony Albanese and a talented foreign minister such as Penny Wong.

The election of President Donald Trump – pictured here with Scott Morrison in 2019 – should have been a warning to take a step back, rather than towards, greater military alignment with the United States.

Alex Ellinghausen

President Xi Jinping has unquestionably put China on a bellicose and perilous trajectory. Our region is more unstable than it was a decade earlier. The crushing of democracy in Hong Kong has been tragic, the sabre-rattling towards Taiwan alarming, the long hand of repression reaching for dissidents abroad symptomatic of a regime with blatant disregard for both human rights and foreign sovereignty.

But as recent mass demonstrations across China proved, President Xi is unpopular at home for his COVID policies and for stifling China’s once-vibrant entrepreneurial economy. If he goes – all tyrants do go, one way or another – and China returns to its former, more pragmatic foreign policy, we’ll be left by AUKUS with immense white elephants, nuclear waste, and expensive capabilities we will never need.

If anyone believes the final bill for these submarines will be $360 billion, I have a nice bridge I can sell them, down by The Rocks. Show me the defence contract that has come in on budget, and I’ll show you my pet unicorn. We need those billions. We could use that money to shore up our health system and to help with the clean energy conversion. We could use it to cushion the transition for workers displaced as we do what we know we must do: close the dirtiest coal plants and end logging in our old-growth forests.

Instead of making our country a dumping ground for high-level nuclear waste and adding to the risks of proliferation, we could invest more in life-saving green technologies. And we would do all those great things free of any other country’s influence.

Let’s not be a lonely letter in someone else’s ugly acronym. Let America keep its attack subs and its attack politics. Right now, we are a lot safer on our own.

( Information from was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

Leave a Comment

Share to...