Saturday 4th of December 2021

sinking to lower depths......


 Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s trip overseas was presumably intended to burnish his credentials as an international statesman and defender of Australian interests, but so far it’s looked like a disaster. The fallout from the submarines about-face continues, and the situation is not improving.

Overnight, US President Joe Biden was compelled to deliver a personal apology to President Emmanuel Macron for keeping France in the dark over its plans to help Australia acquire nuclear-fuelled submarines. Biden claimed responsibility for this error of judgement, but it’s clear his team realised that its true mistake was leaving the earlier communications about the whole affair up to Australia. Did they not realise that Morrison has a tendency towards extreme secrecy? Did they not realise that Australia had, until the very day that the deal was scuppered, been communicating to France’s Naval Group company that their original deal was still proceeding as normal?

Following the Macron–Biden discussion, France has returned its ambassador to Washington, but Macron is pointedly not talking to Morrison and not returning the French ambassador to Canberra. Australia will be in the hurt locker for a while longer yet, and France joins China in refusing to even speak to Australian leaders.

Morrison also met with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson overnight, but Johnson’s subsequent comments on the new AUKUS pact would not have helped improve any diplomatic relations. France should “prenez un grip about this and donnez-moi un break”, Johnson said – get a grip and give me a break. Ah yes, because there’s nothing the French appreciate more than an Englishman with a terrible accent using a badly translated anglicism to tell them to calm down after having insulted them.

The leader of our mother country is not exactly reading the room. “Make no mistake,” wrote Sylvie Kauffmann, independent French commentator and editorial director of Le Monde. “This is a crisis, not a spat … The fallout is about much more than a scrapped business deal, Gallic pride and bruised egos. This diplomatic bombshell has crudely exposed the unwritten rules of great-power competition, in which France cannot be a player unless it carries the weight of the European Union behind it. The past week has been about 21st-century geopolitics and the brutal adjustment of old alliances to new realities.

“France has been cast aside.”

Throughout all of this, it has been little remarked that while Australia has blown up the French submarine deal, and damaged broader relations with Europe and China, Morrison hasn’t yet locked in the replacement US submarine deal. Not only do we not know the cost or timeline, or even the number of submarines to be provided, we aren’t even certain that the US will approve the deal. Biden is clearly a supporter of the pact, but for the US to share nuclear technology with another country, congressional approval is required and bipartisan support is necessary. Morrison will meet with key congressional leaders today, including the Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. Can you imagine the impact if Morrison cannot convince them to approve the deal?

It’s no wonder former and current leaders back home are looking on in horror.

“At Morrison’s instigation,” Paul Keating wrote this week, “Australia turns its back on the 21st century, the century of Asia, for the jaded and faded Anglosphere – the domain of the Atlantic – a world away.” He continued, “It takes a monster level of incompetence to forfeit military control of one’s own state, but this is what Scott Morrison and his government have managed to do.”

Kevin Rudd called the events of the past week a “rolling amateur-hour” and a foreign policy debacle. And current shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong, while offering Labor’s conditional support, warned that the Morrison government must not sacrifice Australia’s independence as it pushes ahead with the new submarines plan.

Morrison’s handling of recent developments still seems to have News Corp’s support though. “Subs deal puts us on centre stage,” wrote The Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan, who claimed it was “an enormous historic opportunity for Australia” and “a brilliant achievement by the Morrison government”. He and chief political correspondent Geoff Chambers seemed intent on criticising French for having a tantrum over it. “Australia, the US and Britain want France in the Indo-Pacific tent. Now is not the time to let emotion override shared interests in the region,” wrote Chambers, as if it was France is being churlish for not embracing the fact they were cut out of a critical defence relationship and a $90 billion deal.

Then again, neither News Corp nor its owners have ever shown a serious regard for Australia’s national interest. Flag-waving aside, their game is more to divide and conquer, in pursuit of their own foreign interests.


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 ‘We favour freedom’: Quad leaders offer China alternative at historic summit


Washington: Scott Morrison and the fellow “Quad” leaders have presented a united front against Chinese economic pressure and military aggression in the Indo-Pacific at a historic White House summit, with the Prime Minister declaring the four nations “believe in a world order that favours freedom”.


US President Joe Biden hosted Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Suga in Washington for the first in-person leaders meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue on Saturday (AEST).

The four leaders unveiled a suite of initiatives to work together on delivering vaccines to needy countries in Asia, creating a reliable supply chain for critical minerals and partnering on low-emissions technologies to tackle climate change.

Although the leaders deliberately avoided mentioning China by name, the mission to counter the growing influence of the rising superpower dominated every aspect of the summit.


“We are liberal democracies and believe in a world order that favours freedom,” Morrison said at the beginning of the summit in the East Room of the White House.

“We believe in a free and open Indo-Pacific because we know that’s what delivers a strong, stable and prosperous region so our citizens, our people, can realise their hopes and dreams for their futures in a liberal, free society.”

Morrison said the nations had a common goal to create a region that can “always be free from coercion, where the sovereign rights of all nations are respected and where disputes are settled peacefully and in accordance with international law”.

This includes working together on low emissions technologies that will “take the world to a net zero economy, a new energy economy”, Morrison said.