September 22, 2021

Ep. 83: Debating AUKUS—Deterrence, sovereignty and risk

The announcement of a new trilateral security partnership, AUKUS (Australia, UK and US), is a major event in the history of Australian foreign policy. Australia is planning to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, scrapping a contract with the French to build conventional subs in the process. AUKUS also plans to engage in new forms of security cooperation in other technology domains. This decision is both momentous and controversial.

In this episode, Allan and Darren debate the merits of AUKUS, with Darren attempting to lay out a (theoretical) case in favour, while Allan offers his critique. The conversation is the strongest disagreement they’ve had in the history of the podcast, which makes for a lively debate! Hopefully the first of many in the months ahead as further details emerge and implementation begins.

The logic and consequences of AUKUS speak to the biggest questions of Australian foreign policy, and this discussion helps reveal clear points of disagreement in how Allan and Darren assess Australia’s strategic landscape.

We thank Mitchell McIntosh for audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.     

Relevant links

Joint Leaders Statement on AUKUS, 16 September 2021:

Allan Gyngell, “Australia signs up to the Anglosphere”, Australian Financial Review, 17 September 2021:

Natasha Kassam and Darren Lim, “Successful deterrence: Why AUKUS is good news for Taiwan”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 2021:

William Gale and Darrell West, “Is the US headed for another Civil War?”, Brookings Institution, 16 September 2021:

Hugh White, How to defend Australia (La Trobe University Press, 2019):

Oriana Skylar Mastro, “The Taiwan Temptation: Why Beijing Might Resort to Force”, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2021:

Rory Medcalf, “Australia crosses a strategic Rubicon”, Australian Financial Review, 16 September 2021:

Editorial Board, “What to make of China’s drive towards ‘common prosperity’”, East Asia Forum, 20 September 2021:

Kevin Rudd, “Xi Jinping’s pivot to the state”, Address to the Asia Society, New York, 8 September 2021:

Sinica Podcast, “What’s the deal with the Red New Deal?”, 16 September 2021:

The Ezra Klein Show, Interview with Annie Murphy Paul, New York Times, 20 July 2021:

The Ezra Klein Show, Interview with L.M. Sacasas, New York Times, 3 August 2021:

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