Examining Aukus alliance through the lens of history

The Aukus pact is not a “new global order” (17 September) but very much an old order; it is colonial gunboats. I do not expect politicians to have read history such as the first Anglo-Afghan war of 1839, but I do expect them to be aware of history in their own lifetimes. Eton may not teach the failures of empire, but China has been very clear about Taiwan since 1950.

When Biden said, “This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries”, he was committing to another battle in the Pacific. The global dominance of China has been clear for more than 20 years, and yet we are unwillingly signed up to face this new empire?
Simon Allen
St Albans, Hertfordshire

Your article concerning a possible Chinese backlash over the tripartite agreement to furnish nuclear propulsion technology to the Royal Australian Navy puzzles me (Aukus pact: UK and US battle to contain international backlash, 16 September). It’s not Australia that has been claiming large chunks of the South China Sea by building military outposts on remote atolls and islands. Nor has Australia been intimidating its neighbours.

What we see now is an increasingly bellicose China that wishes to retain the monopoly of bullyboy tactics against all its neighbours, while hypocritically claiming that the Australian move is a threat to regional and world peace. As for Britain being drawn into a regional conflict provoked by a Chinese attack on Taiwan, I ask – what with? I believe the Royal Navy has so few operational ships you can count them on the fingers of one hand, and the aircraft carriers would do well to reflect on what happened to the carriers of the Japanese navy at Midway in 1942.
Michael Saunders
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

Your editorial (16 September) says that “Boris Johnson has highlighted the promise of UK jobs” from the Aukus defence pact. But the likelihood is that Britain won’t gain much – economically, militarily or diplomatically – from the new alliance. At present, it doesn’t suit Washington to be seen as unilaterally ramping up pressure on Beijing, so the White House has helpfully described the deal as a “downpayment” on the “concept of global Britain”. This, of course, encourages Johnson’s fantasy post-Brexit narrative about Britain’s vaunted place in the world.

In truth, however, Aukus has very little to do with the UK (or even Australia). Rather, it is all about the US flexing its Pacific military muscle in an increasingly panicked response to China’s extraordinary rise in global economic power and prominence.
Joe McCarthy

Theresa May asks if the Aukus pact could lead to Britain being dragged into a war with China if it invaded Taiwan (Report, 17 September). For more than 40 years the US has made clear that this would not be a casus belli.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger said that the island was “part of China”. President Jimmy Carter unilaterally annulled the Sino-American mutual defence treaty once diplomatic relations were established with the People’s Republic of China in 1979. The Taiwan Relations Act (reconfirmed in 2021) promises cooperation, but not direct US military assistance in case of an invasion.
Dr John Doherty
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

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