What this arrangement indicates is that the overlords of the empire understand they are losing international as well as domestic legitimacy, and are trying to outsource more imperial functions to junior partners, satellites, and proxies. The empire’s second zone is now being pushed to assume a greater role in the defense of the periphery against the rogue provinces.
A profound geopolitical shift is happening.
JUST OCCASIONALLY, you can see the tectonic plates of geopolitics shifting in front of your eyes. Suez in 1956, Nixon going to China in 1972 and the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 are among the examples in living memory. The unveiling last week of a trilateral defence pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (introducing the awkward acronym of AUKUS) is providing another of those rare occasions.
AUKUS envisages a wide range of diplomatic and technological collaboration, from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence, but at its core is an agreement to start consultations to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear-propelled (though not nuclear-armed) submarines. One consequence of this is Australia cancelling a contract, worth tens of billions of dollars, signed in 2016 with France for diesel-electric submarines. In announcing AUKUS on September 15th with the prime ministers of Australia and Britain, Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson, President Joe Biden stressed that it was about “investing in our greatest source of strength—our alliances”.