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Australia’s Sovereignty in the AUKUS Pact: think tank


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The AUKUS pact, involving the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, has garnered significant attention and raised critical questions in foreign and security policy circles.

This article delves into the multifaceted uncertainties surrounding the AUKUS agreement, emphasizing its implications for Australia.


Local Factors: AUKUS’s Impact on U.S. States


One often overlooked aspect of the AUKUS pact is its potential impact on state and local politics in the United States. The construction of Australia’s Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines will largely take place in American states, creating a substantial network of defense suppliers, manufacturers, and technologies. Engaging these stakeholders is crucial for the pact’s success. Ensuring economic incentives for U.S. states can directly affect the efficacy of AUKUS.


Sovereignty: Australia’s Balancing Act


One central area of uncertainty revolves around the concept of sovereignty within the AUKUS alliance. Due to the inherent power imbalance between the United States and Australia, some American analysts view Australia’s sovereignty as “relative and negotiable.” This viewpoint is tied to safeguarding American strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific. While Australia will operate the American-built Virginia-class submarines, there is an expectation in some quarters that Washington may wield influence, if not a veto, over the Australian government’s utilization of these assets. Clearly defining the bounds of Australia’s sovereignty within AUKUS is essential to protect its autonomy and maneuverability.


AUKUS’s Deterrence Strategy: A Work in Progress


The effectiveness of AUKUS in deterring China is another substantial area of uncertainty. While the pact’s focus is on countering Chinese influence, the exact mechanisms for achieving this goal remain uncertain. Australia’s first Virginia-class submarine won’t hit the water for at least a decade, and it will take twice as long for the new class of AUKUS submarines to become operational. The challenge lies in maintaining technological superiority over a prolonged period. The partners must continually innovate and adapt to evolving threats, all while ensuring that their deterrent capabilities remain credible and effective. The success of AUKUS as a deterrent hinges on its ability to outpace the technological curve.


Economic Costs: The Burden on Australia


One significant concern surrounds the hefty price tag of the AUKUS pact. While the Australian government has touted this investment as “game-changing,” it comes at a considerable cost. With the submarine program alone potentially reaching $368 billion, it raises questions about the sustainability of such a financial commitment. History has shown that defense projects often exceed their initial budgets, placing a considerable burden on taxpayers. Australia, despite being the smallest AUKUS partner, is expected to carry a substantial financial responsibility due to its geographical proximity to China and reliance on U.S. nuclear deterrence.


Future Outlook and Conclusion


The success of the AUKUS pact in achieving its deterrence goals, maintaining Australia’s sovereignty, and addressing economic costs will undoubtedly be influenced by these uncertainties. As China continues to assert itself in the Indo-Pacific, the region’s existing balance may come under increasing pressure. AUKUS, in part, is designed to act as a counterbalance to this shifting dynamic. Every member of the agreement must be acutely aware of the expectation that Washington has for its Indo-Pacific allies. The burden of effectively navigating these challenges lies with all AUKUS members to ensure the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.


In conclusion, the AUKUS pact’s success hinges on addressing these uncertainties, establishing clear boundaries, and maintaining technological superiority. As the region’s security landscape evolves, the significance of AUKUS in preserving the existing balance cannot be underestimated. It’s a shared responsibility among the pact’s members to navigate these challenges effectively and ensure a stable Indo-Pacific region.

M Moiz
M Moiz
M Moiz, is Research Student at Islamabad research Institute and work with THE THINK TANK JOURNAL

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