In this article for Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard, explains the implications of the recent nuclear-powered submarine deal between the U.S., Australia, and UK.
"First and most obviously, this move is a classic illustration of balance-of-power/balance-of-threat politics at work. Although China was not mentioned anywhere in the announcement, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this initiative was taken in response to growing perceptions of a rising Chinese threat. ... Equipping Australia with long-range, extremely quiet nuclear-powered submarines will enable Canberra to play a more active role in the region, along with the other members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the United States, India, and Japan). Second, ... Beijing has no one to blame but itself. Until recently, Australian opinion was ambivalent about the implications of China’s rise: ... But China’s increasingly belligerent conduct—especially its unwarranted decision to impose a punishing trade embargo in response to an Australian proposal for an independent international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus—has triggered a steady hardening of Australian attitudes. ... Third, ... the actions announced on Sept. 15 will complicate Chinese efforts to project power at sea and control critical lines of communication. As such, they will impede future Chinese efforts to overawe nearby countries and gradually persuade them to adopt more compliant postures. ... Fourth, the reactions of third parties will be a key issue ... a key issue in regional politics is the degree to which either the United States or China is perceived as the one that is “disturbing the peace” Asian countries are eager to preserve. ...The final issue is the nuclear dimension. ... It is also an indication of greater U.S. (and, to some extent, British) willingness to transfer highly sensitive technologies to close allies."
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