The US’ own ‘allies’ are the ones who considered AUKUS an ‘absolute surprise’, not Russia or China. Those latter two already knew what to expect when it comes to America, and it’s that the fading unipolar hegemon will always put its interests first at everyone else’s expense, including its ‘allies”.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova recently said that the new trilateral Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) military alliance against China was only an “absolute surprise” for America’s so-called “allies” and not anyone else. According to TASS, her exact words were as follows:
“It came as a total surprise and a shock for NATO. It came as an absolute surprise not for those whom the US, Australia and the UK call their opponents and whom they are collaborating against, but for their allies and the military and political blocs that the US and the UK are part of.”
This isn’t just “trolling” like some cynics might claim, but is an objective reflection of reality. France was shocked at having been “backstabbed” as its Foreign Minister put it after its “fellow” US & UK NATO “allies” poached a AUS$90 billion submarine deal with Australia from it which that Western European country’s media had famously described as the “Contract of the Century”.
Furthermore, France was immensely offended by the fact that this whole process was conducted in secret, including during this summer’s G7 that President Macron participated in alongside the American and British leaders where the latter two reportedly discussed this deal. From Paris’ perspective, those three countries’ conduct was unacceptable for “fellow allies”.
India and Japan, which cooperate with America and Australia in the Quad, were similarly surprised at having been left out of this anti-Chinese military technology-sharing bloc though their response is a lot more restrained than France’s since they didn’t lose tens of billions of dollars because of it. Still, even they were left scratching their heads and wondering why they weren’t invited to join.
Mrs. Zakharova had therefore accurately assessed the strategic situation. The US’ own “allies” are the ones who considered AUKUS an “absolute surprise”, not Russia or China. Those latter two already knew what to expect when it comes to America, and it’s that the fading unipolar hegemon will always put its interests first at everyone else’s expense, including its “allies'”.
Their very similar experiences over the decades have already taught them that the US isn’t ever to be trusted. After all, it continued to seek their joint “containment” despite the Russian and Chinese leaderships hoping for pragmatic relations with America, albeit on the condition of equal respect, which Washington refused to ever grant them.
Instead, the US attempted to treat those two just like it treats its “allies” by trying its utmost to dominate them and compel their leaderships into carrying out never-ending concessions for America’s self-interested gain. That was completely unacceptable for Russia and China which, unlike the US’ “allies”, treasure their sovereignty and therefore decided to push back against this bullying.
It therefore came as no surprise to them to see the US so audaciously backstab France while simultaneously disappointing India and Japan. Disrespecting “allies” isn’t the exception, but the rule of American foreign policy. Russia and China learned that this is par for the course after they were treated so poorly by the US even during the period when they enjoyed cordial relations with it.
America’s “allies” are also learning this lesson the hard way, in fact even harder than Russia and China did. Those two were always cautious about teaming up with the US even during the so-called “best of times” since there wasn’t ever unanimity in their permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) about this. That’s why some forces within them hedged their bets.
In particular, these were the military and especially the intelligence branches of those shadowy structures. China’s are comparatively more opaque than Russia’s so it’s difficult to identify exactly who in the former was responsible for this, but the latter’s heroes are former intelligence chiefs Yevgeny Primakov, who was brain behind the Russia-India-China (RIC) concept, and Vladimir Putin.
Although the US’ “allies” also have their own military and intelligence apparatuses, they’re not as influential in policymaking as they are in Russia and China due to the differences in their governing models. Patriotic forces from any country generally tend to be concentrated in those two branches, yet they have more difficulty shaping policy in so-called “democracies” than in other systems.
Of the three US “allies” that were the most surprised by AUKUS — France, India, and Japan — India is the one that’s best positioned to flexibly adapt to this unexpected development. That’s because while it claims to be a “democracy”, it’s far from a Western one and actually embodies certain centralizing tendencies that are more commonly associated with the Russian and Chinese models.
In practice, this means that its military and intelligence branches exert comparatively more influence over policymaking than they do in France and Japan. This in and of itself doesn’t mean that India will automatically view the US with suspicion from here on out after AUKUS, but just that it has the greatest chance of those three countries to behave somewhat more independently.
After all, it’s already facing sanctions threats from Washington over its loyal commitment to the S-400 air defense deal with Moscow. India was also infuriated after the US Navy violated its Exclusive Economic Zone earlier this year while carrying out a so-called “freedom of navigation operation” in the region. The country’s military and intelligence forces now know better than to trust the US.
Having said that, they also have an interest in cooperating more closely with it out of their countries’ shared desire to contain China, but India might be a bit more reluctant to go as all-in as it had previously signaled if it’s become more suspicious of the US’ secret deal-making since AUKUS, which of course remains to be seen and can’t be confidently determined from public sources.