Ten months ago I began a blog post on this site with the words: Yesterday witnessed an extremely important International statement by the western neo-liberal establishment. The inaugural Grotius prize was awarded by Centre Right think tank Policy Exchange to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
That was confirmed this week by the declaration on Wednesday 15th September 2021 of a new strategic partnership between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.
The details of the planned provision of nuclear powered submarines to Australia can be read elsewhere in the media. What concerns me here is the geopolitical and historical significance. Two powerful signals in the geopolitical power game are being sent to two ambitious power blocs.
Let’s take the lesser first – France and its self aggrandizement project known as the European Union. Neither France nor the EU were informed about AUKUS in advance, even though France
- loses its contract to provide 12 conventional submarines to Australia
- is a nuclear power
- has significant territory in the Pacific
- is a western alliance partner
This was a calculated put down to Emmanuel Macron and French/EU ambitions.
Macron has Napoleonic pretensions. He shot to the top at age 39 years having never failed. His arrogant address to the world’s leaders assembled at the First World War Centenary in Paris in November 2018 spoke volumes. Macron arrogantly shoved aside the requisite sobriety of the occasion and chose instead to lecture the leaders of Russia, China and the USA.
Macron has been strutting on the world stage since his election in 2017, fronting up Erdogan of Turkey and telling the Labanese to sort themselves out. In Africa, French forces fight Islamic extremists and Macron has taken pains to exploit residual influence among the former French colonies there.
Yet at home, armed criminal gangs rule the suburbs of the large cities – and beyond. The police are literally chased out of these areas which they are obliged to raid in force before rapidly withdrawing again. Main stream French media reports I have seen indicate an unprecedented expansion of drug related crime in just the last 18 months and in places where none had existed before ….
The difference between the former world colonial powers of Britain and France is that the British realised in the 1950s that Empire was over whereas the French still believe in their manifest destiny to Enlighten the world. This was their excuse to flex their muscles and massage their wounded pride when they savagely repressed Independence movements in Indo China and Algeria after their humiliation in the Second World war.
After the Elysee Treaty 1963, however, France channelled its primary influence to Europe and sought to achieve global influence via trade agreements. But that led them in the 1990s to sell BioTechnology to the Chinese – yes, we have the French government to thank for the origins of the Chinese Biotechnology industry etc …
Like Britain, France does not begin to compare with the world’s great power blocs, of course. But Mr Macron and the French Intelligentsia remain besotted by the national myth that France gave the world liberty and the 1789 Declaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen.
That is not correct, of course. Brief historical outline now needed.
The paradigm of the modern world order originates in the International Rules based order conceived by Grotius – hence the prize to Mr Morrison, premier of Australia.
And who conceived that prize and awarded it ?
A London based think tank called Policy Exchange.
London, of course, is home to the City of London Financial district. Even today, that financial market has world impact. But it’s historical role is crucial to the modern world order. It is founded in the security provided by the rule of law as established by the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The 1689 Bill of Rights confirmed the 13th century Magna Carta. Even the Crown – the Executive – was now subject to the Rule of Law. That provided the critical assurance investors needed to part with their money. A vital ingredient for the modern world order was put in place – a century before the Revolution in France.
No less a figure than the Frenchman Voltaire testified to the freedom he found in 18th century England.
During the 20th century, of course, the United States took over and indeed exceeded the world primacy formerly exercised by Britain.
Now, Britain understands this reality and works with it – but the French are still motivated by their national Myth about their Manifest Destiny to civilise the world. For France and President Macron, the EU is the reincarnation of Napoleon’s Continental System and a power base for French global pretensions.
The main message of AUKUS, however, is to the real Pretender for global hegemony, China. Who can blame her when you consider the historical record of her subjection to foreign powers ? To President Xi Jinping and for many Chinese, the Future belongs to China. They too have a manifest destiny …
And China has learned much from Western hypocrisy.
So in recent years, China has made absurdly advantageous trade and credit agreements around the world. She has unilaterally fortified islands in the South China seas in total contempt for the legitimate claims of the nations bounding those seas. She has persistently built up her miliary forces and now has the capacity to enforce her claim to Taiwan.
Hence the powerful signal being sent by the power brokers of the traditional order via the formation of AUKUS.
China can only be emboldened by western failure in Honk Kong and Afghanistan. Indeed, she would be stupid to await construction of those new Australian nuclear powered Submarines.
Not if, but when China moves to take control of Taiwan, the West will be faced with the classic dilemma of the threatened Incumbent. Either act militarily, or back off and leave the rising Pretender in possession.
Has America’s manifest destiny now run its course ? We are about to find out …
My blog post of ten months ago is at
PS Righteous indignation and wounded pride from the French Government is so much posturing. On 17th September 2021 a French Assembly member appeared on the main evening news of the primary commercial Channel TF1 saying that she warned the French foreign ministry a year ago after her visit to Australia where she encountered official anger over the shortcomings of the French contract. The notion that French Intelligence does not know these things is ridiculous.