Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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France Recalls Ambassadors From US and Australia After Being Sandbagged in Defense Pact Arms Deal


Earlier in the week, we were all treated to the announcement of a new and improved trilateral security pact between the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia (called AUKUS). The most memorable thing about the announcement (read Sister Toldjah’s post, Watch: Biden Makes International Headlines for Embarrassing Reason After Awkward Moment With Aussie PM) was Joey Soft Serve forgetting the name of the Australian prime minister.

Despite the placid, if short-bus-ish ambiance of the announcement, there was drama brewing out of sight.

Biden announced that the United States would allow nuclear submarine technology transfer to Australia. This is significant. It would make Australia the only nation other than Britain to have US nuclear submarine technology. It would change the nature of Australia’s submarine force from one focused on coastal defense to one that could strike against Chinese targets. The nuclear boats that Australia would acquire would outclass the Chinese nuclear boats and alter the balance of power in the Western Pacific. Everyone expected the Chicoms (and their paid-for “defense analyst” mouthpieces in the United States) to be upset, but no one really expected this:

Calling American and Australian behavior “unacceptable between allies and partners,” France announced on Friday that it was recalling its ambassadors to both countries in protest over President Biden’s decision to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

It was the first time in the history of the long alliance between France and the United States, dating back to 1778, that a French ambassador has been recalled to Paris in this way for consultations. The decision by President Emmanuel Macron reflects the extent of French outrage at what it has a called a “brutal” American decision and a “stab in the back” from Australia.

In a statement, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said the decision was made by Mr. Macron, who is understood to be furious about the way the United States, Britain and Australia negotiated the deal without informing France.

Australia on Wednesday canceled a $66 billion agreement to purchase French-built, conventionally powered submarines, hours before the deal with Washington and London was announced.

“At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately recall our two ambassadors to the United States and Australia to Paris for consultations,” the statement said. “This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States.”

Do you want to know how mad the French were? They compared Biden to Trump.

Here is how the Washington Post summarized the butt-hurt:

There are a number of reasons. For one, the deal was of virtually unrivaled economic significance to France’s defense sector, said Pierre Morcos, a French visiting fellow at the D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The deal was crucial for “a whole network of small and medium enterprises” in France that were supposed to benefit from it, he said. The economic significance of the Australia deal has been compared to a landmark 2015 agreement between India and French company Dassault Aviation to supply 36 Rafale fighter jets.

Second, France stands to lose strategically as a result of Australia bowing out of its previous commitment. When the deal was struck, the French government celebrated a “strategic partnership … for the next 50 years.”

“This overall framework is now jeopardized,” Morcos said.

A third key reason for the French anger is the way the deal between Australia, Britain and the United States was announced. A French official said Thursday that Paris learned of the decision only through media reports — even though it had been negotiated among the three participants for months.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that France was “aware in advance” of the new agreement, although Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated that awareness came only in the past day or two.

While the French were furious at the US and Australia, they dismissed the British involvement as only a pissed-off Frenchman can. This is a since-deleted tweet from the former French ambassador to the United States.

All in all, it was a good say for Trump supporters and a not very good day for the whole “now the adults are in charge” bunch.

It is sort of difficult to understand the thought process behind this gambit. Whatever was gained by giving Australia a nuclear boat could have been achieved by homeporting one or more US boats in Australia. While a $60+ billion loss to the US defense budget wouldn’t be much more than a rounding error, it is big, big money to France’s defense industry. Coming off the debacle in Afghanistan, while having some amusing qualities, this action underscores that under the Winken, Blinken, and Nod foreign policy team, the United States is a fickle and unreliable ally.




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