Former diplomat and Political commentator, Bruce Haigh, makes a first pass on secret and shocking recent events. No doubt there will be a lot more to say. Ed.

Australia does not need nuclear submarines; it probably does not need submarines.

Australia’s original submarines, the Oberon Class, were British designed and built and began service in the late 1960’s. The American’s requested their use to watch Russian naval movements at Vladivostok and Cam Ran Bay. The Australian endeavours were praised by the US, encouraging Australia to build a new fleet of submarines better suited to the task, but the Cold War ended. The Collins Class was plagued with problems not least of which was maintaining the required number of crew.

A new Australian fleet of US designed nuclear submarines will be intended to supplement the US force structure. In the event of hostilities, they will come under overall US command.

The target is China; as Australia’s largest trading partner, it makes no sense. The decision will concern countries in the region and upset the military balance.

Why does Australia need nuclear submarines when Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam do not?

What does Australia get out of it? Nothing except a worse relationship with its largest trading partner.

The US has gone from having a rotating marine presence in Darwin to it being permanent. The submarines will, I believe, lead to an even greater US military presence in Australia. The US have not given us all the computer codes for the F35, it is unlikely that they will give us the codes for the nuclear engines, further reinforcing their claim for an increased permanent presence.

This escalating US presence will bring its own multiplier as it seeks to defend on-land assets in Australia.

All of this has to do with the US, Australia has allowed itself to be conned. Australia is not under a greater threat from China than anyone else in the region.

The UK is looking for relevance after Brexit. It wants to believe it is still a world power. Rah, rah, rah, East of Suez and all that. It’s pathetic Johnson/Tory nonsense, which no doubt plays out well at White’s but will not help with declining terms of trade.

Bruce Haigh

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