Was Biden wrong in upseting the oldest ally of United States – France?
I believe it is worth returning to this topic as it is significant on a very broad – global scene. New alliance between Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS). It would be wrong to see this not really new alliance as “Asian NATO”. Counting remaining two members of the “Quad” (India and Japan) would be, in my opinion premature. That particularly applies for India. India does not want to abandon its Non-Aligned status in return of irritating China. Anyone planning to see Japan as part of that alliance is forgetting enormous historical burden it would bring with it. Not even South Korea would want to join it. Not to mention other Asian states that were victims of Japanese aggression during WWII.
It might turn that by taking his first step towards creation of “Asian NATO”, Joe Biden unintentionally made the first step towards dismantilng NATO! If this turns to be correct prediction then we are witnessing geopolitical change comparable to the fall of Berlin Wall. The “Old Europe” and France in particular are shocked and speachless. Not much is happening behind the closed doors right now but that will change soon. Results of German election for federal parliament are still coming in. As soon as there is new government formed in Germany, there will be very active talks regarding future positioning of “Old Europe”. I have no doubts about that.
What if Washington’s hopes of Green Party in Germany holding country firmly under control? Those curious to see what the real “elections meddling” looks like should pay attention – pressure on all major actors on German political scene will be applied from Washington, Moscow, Beijing and Paris.
Franco-American relations worse since 1778
Defence alliance with the UK and Australia makes sense for United States. These are two countries that followed military adventure of US without exception. However, linking it to France – and the EU – makes no sense in the process. If this announcement was made without breaking contract for submarines between Australia and France, there would be no problems. Appart from countries involved it would be noticed only in Beijing and with mild reaction. With submarines being part of it the new alliance became global news. Reactions from Paris and Beijing were almost equaly lous. And, nobody should be surprised with that.
Biden administration has found itself embroiled in an avoidable conflict with Paris over the canceled multibillion-dollar defense contract between France and Australia. This gap is significant in the annals of Franco-American relations. For the first time since 1778, France recalled its ambassador from the United States. And it is unlikely that all this will soon subside. Inevitably, this will have serious consequences for the entire American alliance with France, the European Union and NATO. Ultimately, China and Russia will benefit from this turn of events.
Lack of sophistication
In fact, the United States and the United Kingdom needed to strengthen their military relations with Australia. It is the most powerful English-speaking democracy in this part of the world. Biden should be credited for doing something truly grandiose. Offering Australia patented American nuclear submarine technology – which Washington hasn’t done for another country since 1958 – to build a strong military alliance to curb China’s rise to India in the Pacific Ocean.
However, nowhere was it written that this union was to be created at the expense of a democratic France. In France, Washington has a capable military partner. The strongest on the European continent. Like the United States and Britain, France also has interests in the Indo-Pacific.
Five years ago, Australia wanted to replenish its submarine fleet. Its Collins-class diesel submarines were in need of replacement. French defense contractor Naval Group was tasked with replacing six Australian Collins-class diesel submarines with 12 French Barracuda-class diesel submarines.
The deal began to collapse at least 15 months before the intervention of the Americans and British. It also became clear that Australia’s leaders really didn’t want another set of diesel submarines.
Ultimately, however, if Australia does not intend to use nuclear warheads on its submarines, then a nuclear submarine may not be worth the investment and time that Australia requires. Especially given that Australia lacks the infrastructure needed to build and maintain nuclear submarines.
It never occurred to anyone in Canberra or Washington to warn their friends in Paris about Australia’s imminent abandonment of French submarines in favor of Anglo-American ones. Was there really nothing that the Biden administration could not offer as comfort for Paris? It seemed like “adults” were ruling Washington again!
Losing Europe to win Australia?
Biden’s indifference to the interests of France provoked the outrage of the French. In my opinion, combined with some other factors, it could well lead to a serious collapse of the Euro-American alliance.
The severing of Franco-American relations over the Australian submarine deal may have been just the latest in a long string of incidents in which Europe’s leaders needed to take the final step in charting a new course further away from Washington. It will not happen soon but possibility of very different relationship between EU and Russia is quite realistic. Are we going to see Eurasia from Lisbon to Vladivostok without sanctions and walls?