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Australia has been a very close US ally – one could even say protectorate – since the beginning of World War II. A US Marine formation is based there. The US Navy makes routine port and maintenance calls in Australia, which lies right on the dividing line between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The Aussies now feel increasingly threatened by the rapid expansion of China’s naval and air power, so they have turned to the United States for more protection by just announcing the purchase of a fleet of nuclear-powered, but conventionally armed, attack submarines.

These new, high-tech subs are to be built in Australia to augment the nation’s small fleet of older, but still capable, submarines. Focusing on submarines makes good sense for Australia which is surrounded by two vast oceans and huge distances. Like the United States, its oceans provide ultimate protection from potential foreign invaders.

However, the deal with the US has abruptly torpedoed a $66 billion deal made by Australia to buy 12 French-made submarines, their biggest military program in memory. The French, never calm, are really in a fury. The sub deal is a ‘stab in the back ‘ fumed France’s irate foreign minister.