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The Necessity of AUKUS

Summary:
The diplomacy surrounding the recent agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States left much to be desired, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson should now lead efforts to mollify the French. But this should not be the last agreement between like-minded powers to counter Chinese aggression. LONDON – The basic text making the case for an international-relations rulebook was provided by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides in his account of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta in the fifth century BCE. During that struggle, the inhabitants of Melos, the only significant island in the Aegean Sea not controlled by Athens, insisted on retaining their neutrality despite intense

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The diplomacy surrounding the recent agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States left much to be desired, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson should now lead efforts to mollify the French. But this should not be the last agreement between like-minded powers to counter Chinese aggression.

LONDON – The basic text making the case for an international-relations rulebook was provided by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides in his account of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta in the fifth century BCE. During that struggle, the inhabitants of Melos, the only significant island in the Aegean Sea not controlled by Athens, insisted on retaining their neutrality despite intense Athenian pressure. Eventually, the Athenians lost patience and wiped the Melians out, killing all the men and enslaving the women and children. The Athenian justification was simple: “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

It has become increasingly apparent that this is also China’s view of the world today. Now a global economic power with a large navy, China seeks to tempt others with the prospect of selling more goods in its huge market or borrowing money for infrastructure projects. It may, for the sake of form, pretend to abide by the international agreements it has signed. But China’s leaders, in fine Leninist form, simply do whatever they deem to be in the Communist Party’s interest.

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Chris Patten
Associate Director of Design Thinking, Henry Ford Learning Institute. I use design to make complex issues more tangible and build empathy among stakeholders.

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