Chris Patten: Why the Aukus submarine deal was necessary

The diplomacy around the agreement was poorly handled and angered France — but in future like-minded powers will have to stand together in a similar way to counter Chinese aggression

‘The only effective response is for those with common agendas based on international rules and norms – whether strong, middle-ranking, or weak powers – to stand together against Chinese aggression and aggregate their influence through alliances.’ Picture: Getty

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 ...