Standing against NATO and AUKUS a key issue for the peace movement

On Saturday January 21, Britain’s Stop the War Coalition organised its first-ever trade union conference.

Speakers included former Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP; President of the RMT rail workers union Alex Gordon; Deputy President of the PCS civil service union Martin Cavanagh; Alex Kenny from the National Education Union; Liz Wheatley of public service union Unison; Ricardo de la Torre of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU); Daniel Zahedi of the junior doctors section of the British Medical Association (BMA); striking ambulance worker George Solomou; José Nivoi from the Autonomous Collective of Dockworkers in Genoa, Italy, who have repeatedly prevented arms shipments from being sent to conflict zones in the Middle East; Deputy President of Stop the War Andrew Murray; Stop the War Convenor Lindsey German; and veteran anti-war campaigner Salma Yaqoob.

China specialist Dr Jenny Clegg, who is a member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group, introduced and led a well-attended session on the AUKUS pact between Britain, Australia and the United States, and on the ‘coming war on China’. She was joined on the panel by Dr. Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and Warren Smith of the Australian Maritime Union.

We reproduce Jenny’s opening remarks below, which present an admirable and concise summary of the regional situation. Their cogency and urgency are only underlined by the subsequent visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Japan and South Korea.


The Ukraine war, Russia, and NATO, have been demanding the attention of the anti-war movement, but there is also a whole other dimension to Global Britain that is unfolding in the Asia Pacific.

Some might say that the US and NATO want to weaken Russia before moving on to China in the future – in fact war preparations are accelerating right now in the East.

Progress on AUKUS

The announcement of AUKUS in September 2021 was a surprise, made with no democratic debate.  It came as the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier was engaging in multiple joint military exercises in the South China Sea – flying the flag for Johnson’s Global Britain, demonstrating the new Indo Pacific tilt, but the F35 fighter jets it carried actually belonged to the USAF.

The key feature of the AUKUS pact was seen to be the US and UK agreement to assist Australia in acquiring nuclear powered submarines.  BAE systems declared itself ready to support production. However, over the last year, as the US and UK have tried to wangle their way around the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) without apparent success, the deal has struggled and it is not certain that the US and UK can take on the building work given their own nuclear submarines programme commitments.

However, AUKUS is more than just the submarines: it is about Australian militarisation, about advancing military technologies and military industrial cooperation.  BAE systems, Rolls Royce and MBDA have long had subsidiaries in Australia helping to supply its armed forces.

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Canadian labour activists oppose AUKUS, a new NATO in the Pacific

We are pleased to republish this article by Ken Stone, a leading member of Canada’s Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War, explaining the geopolitics of the AUKUS pact and assessing the resistance to it in various parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Solomon Islands, and China. Ken explains that the crux of AUKUS is to allow Australia to take a more active and leading role in the US-led New Cold War, of which China is the principal target. To that end, the US and Britain have agreed to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines – a flagrant escalation against China and a clear violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The article calls on the peace movement worldwide to join hands in opposing AUKUS and rejecting Cold War.

This article was first published in the Canada Files.

The AUKUS military pact, among the USA, UK, and Australia, was announced to the world last year on September 15, 2021. It doesn’t mention China by name but Ben Wallace, UK Defence Secretary, described AUKUS as a response to China “embarking on one of the biggest military spends in history… growing its navy [and] air force at a huge rate.”

While Western political elites cheered vapidly for it, support for this deal has been non-existent at the grassroots level. In Australia, labour unions have lead the fightback against this deal, while the Green Party condemns the deal. In Canada, politicians in all parliamentary parties cheered on this deal, with the opposition to the deal is being led by Canadian labour activists. China has opposed the deal firmly, while New Zealand refused to join AUKUS. Japan is one of the only countries in the region which is considering joining the deal.

What is AUKUS?

The AUKUS military agreement represents the most serious escalation of military force against the People’s Republic of China by the “Anglosphere” since former US President Obama declared his “Pivot to Asia” in 2009. The “Pivot to Asia” was a de facto declaration of US intent to focus its military, political, economic, and other soft power resources to contain and weaken China, which it recognized as a rival and a threat to US world hegemony – even though China repeatedly denied seeing itself as a rival to the US and eschewed the role of world hegemon.

The main aspect of this pact was the sharing of Anglo-American nuclear technology with Australia, which purchased at least eight nuclear submarines from the USA at a cost of over $100 billion USD. However, the first of these submarines is not expected to be operational for more than a decade. None of these countries held a referendum of its citizens on forming this new alliance.

Continue reading Canadian labour activists oppose AUKUS, a new NATO in the Pacific