CANZUK - An upcoming superpower?

The EU is looking more toothless than ever before. Meanwhile, the USA has been hit by a worrying crisis which may cripple it for years. The western world is facing major hurdles. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Meet CANZUK. A theoretical union between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

By Ravi - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Just a hundred years ago, the British Empire was the foremost global power. By the year 1920, the British held over 35 million square kilometres of land. Making their empire the largest in world history. At its peak, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire; a testament to just how large and widespread its territory was. However, after two world wars, the United Kingdom was superseded by its ally, the United States of America. For decades following the Second World War, The USA and the USSR became the two competing superpowers. The UK still held significant power but was losing its colonial territories. As time went on, the UK sought to integrate with Europe for a variety of benefits. Yet their early attempt to enter a union with Europe was vetoed by French president Charles de Gaulle. Over a decade later they joined the European Communities (EC). Since then, the UK has been less independent. Thus Great Britain lost its power, as the European Union sapped away its strength.

However, to think that Britain was going to fade away would be a foolish assumption. In June 2016 52% of Brits decided to vote in favour of Brexit. By the end of 2020, the transition period will be complete. Ending decades of being shackled by the rest of Europe and starting a new era. An era where the UK will be able to control its own destiny and have more freedom to ramp-up cooperation between the Commonwealth realms. Therefore being able to forge a closely-knit union where all members have a common language, history and vision for the future.

Unlike the European Union, CANZUK nations are very similar to each other. All four have very similar GDP per capita and standards of living. This ensures that one-way migration doesn't take place. In Europe, many residents of Eastern European nations head as west as they can. Meanwhile, there is little to no migration eastwards. This is problematic. Due to similar economic and living conditions across CANZUK nations, migration will be balanced. The benefits for citizens of CANZUK nations will be life-changing. Those who wish to move to a hotter climate or vice-versa can do so with ease. Skilled workers who cannot find a job in their own country can be offered jobs in other CANZUK nations. Trade deals which previously wouldn't exist would be secured due to CANZUK trade negotiations... The list goes on. CANZUK will undoubtedly benefit all citizens of the four nations.

The estimated population of CANZUK would exceed 136 million. Meanwhile, its total land area would be 18,187,210 square kilometres. Making it larger than Russia. CANZUK will have access to both the North and South Pacific and Atlantic. Allowing for global power projection.

With tropical rainforests, an expansive desert, snowy mountains, pine forests, prairies and the polar region of northern Canada, there are countless landscapes across CANZUK. This not only means that there is a large variety of resources but also the luxury of being able to test technologies in harsh conditions, both hot and cold. This is particularly useful for military training. Wars are often fought in harsh environments. Training in both hot and cold climates can better prepare a military for future conflicts which may arise in tough climates or terrains such as in the Arctic or the Middle East.

Canada has access to the Northern Pacific, Northern Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. Meanwhile, Australia has access to the Southern Pacific and the Indian Ocean. It's also close to the South China Sea. Meaning it could serve as a launchpad for power projection throughout Southeast Asia. Australia, New Zealand and even the Falkland Islands could serve as key strategic zones for future standoffs in the Southern Hemisphere. Both the Arctic and the Antarctic hold immense untapped resources which may prove to be vital in the future. CANZUK is set to be a key player in both polar regions.

Due to their isolation, CANZUK nations are practically impervious to land invasions. Meaning that they can focus on interests beyond their borders rather than worrying about a massive land intrusion like Europe does. The only notable border which CANZUK shares with another nation is the Canada-United States border. However, the USA has and will continue to have good relations with Canada therefore it is not seen as a risk.

Currently, CANZUK nations have well equipped, well trained albeit small militaries. However, they possess large economies and strong defence industries, so they can easily expand their military size. A large combined military is necessary if CANZUK wishes to carve out its own future. Recently there have been indications that CANZUK nations are prepared to expand their military strength. Australia revealed a 270 billion AUD defence plan which includes acquiring hundreds of AGM-158C long-range anti-ship missiles. This is in direct response to the growing threat from China. It's also due to the realisation that Australia cannot continue to rely on the USA for its own security.

Similarly, the UK has also realised that it may need to step up and shape its own future. Great Britain once had the most advanced aircraft designs in the world. The British were years ahead of the rest of the world in the aviation industry. Nevertheless, they were soon overtaken by the USA and eventually took a back seat. The British continued manufacturing parts and engaging in joint projects such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and of course the F-35. But has not designed a fully indigenous combat aircraft in a long time. But change is coming. BAE Systems and Rolls Royce are two extremely valuable companies that are more than capable of designing and producing advanced aircraft. They are working on the Tempest 6th Generation fighter, which may be the world's most advanced aircraft once complete. Britain is committed to leading the military aviation industry once again and the Tempest project is the perfect way to regain the crown.

The Royal Navy recently commissioned two new carriers. These are of the Elizabeth-class, the largest warships to ever enter service in the Royal Navy. They are capable of carrying approximately 60 aircraft, including F-35Bs. That capacity combined with the potency of the F-35s means that the Royal Navy is stepping into a new era. Meanwhile, the Royal Australian Navy has two Canberra-class LHDs. These can function as light aircraft carriers. Australia is receiving F-35s, however, strangely there have been no orders for F-35Bs. This means that the ski ramps on the Australian LHDs are currently pointless. Australia should definitely acquire F-35Bs, not only because they will boost force projection but also justify having two STVOL compatible carriers.

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) - U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard / Public domain

All together, CANZUK nations could build an enormous fleet allowing for operations across the globe. If necessary Canada could acquire carriers in the future. A combined carrier fleet could exceed 10 vessels, making CANZUK the only entity with force projection capabilities similar to the USA. Of course, more carriers require extra ships for protection. So the current fleets require a multitude of additional vessels to protect the carriers from threats. Each ship in a carrier strike group has its own role, such as anti-air or anti-submarine warfare. Though expensive to maintain, a large amount of carriers makes sense for CANZUK. This alliance is formed of nations which are surrounded by oceans. Therefore aircraft carriers can serve as the first line of defence by allowing fighter jets to operate far from home in order to hold back airborne or naval threats. Or to assist in conflicts on other continents. Aircraft carriers are the ultimate defensive and offensive assets for CANZUK.

Current CANZUK fleet - notice that the Canberra-class isn't considered a carrier. This may change if Australia decides to buy F-35Bs. That said LHDs are multipurpose ships that also carry landing craft.

By 2023 the first of the Type 26 frigates will be delivered. These anti-submarine frigates are designed by BAE Systems Maritime - Naval Ships. The British, Australian and Canadian navies are all set to receive them. This is an indication that further cooperation in defence equipment may be on the way. If CANZUK launches a joint defence industry initiative it could quickly propel the union's defence output well past France and Germany, into Russian and American territory. With Australia's mining boom finished, and the UK's exit from the European Union, a larger defence industry makes sense, as it will not only expand military capabilities but also add many billions to the economy via exports.

Some may fear the rise of CANZUK. They may call it a resurrection of the British Empire. If the CANZUK Union comes into fruition, it will undoubtedly emerge as a superpower. However, this isn't a bad thing. We are heading towards a multipolar world and the west desperately needs an additional powerhouse in order to maintain global peace. CANZUK could also serve as a new voice for the west, allowing it to start a rapprochement process with nation's which the USA has alienated. Due to a lack of powerful foreign lobbyists in comparison to the USA, CANZUK can tackle issues with pragmatic and beneficial decisions, instead of serving to the highest bidder. Meaning that CANZUK may become a better representative of the west than the USA ever was.