When Antony Blinken arrived in Paris on June 25, the French leader told the U.S. Secretary of State that France “extremely valued” the strategic submarine agreement with Australia—according to senior French officials, the agreement has now been renewed. The Aukus agreement was shelved.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also emphasized that he believes that the agreement with Australia is “Franco-American PartnershipA French diplomat said that because the US defense company Lockheed Martin played an important role in the French contract. According to the French side, President Emmanuel Macron repeated these messages.
This is just one of several proposals made by France to US and Australian officials in the months before the secretly finalized Aukus deal between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom and the cancellation of the A$50 billion submarine contract between France and Australia.
Macron was so insulted for being excluded from the Indo-Pacific Agreement that was designed to deal with the growing Okus Chinese power In the area, and because his allies did not issue a warning, he Recalled his ambassador Coming from Washington and Canberra on Friday night.
“Why is France so upset?” wrote Benjamin Haddad, Senior Director of European Affairs at the Atlantic Council. “Those who pointed out the business deal failed to grasp the point. The Paris view is that the secret alliance between the United States and the two partners weakened France’s entire Indo-Pacific strategy in the past decade. It is inexplicable why France was not introduced.”
Peter Ricketts, former British Ambassador to France Said The French felt “not only anger, but also a real sense of betrayal against Britain and the United States and Australia.”[tralia] Negotiations behind them for six months.”
He said that he experienced the rupture of France and the United States on the Iraq issue in 2003, when France under Jacques Chirac opposed George W. Bush’s invasion, “it feels bad or worse.”
With the outburst of anger in France in recent days, senior US officials have tried to limit the damage to their relationship with Paris.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the United States hopes to hold high-level talks with France at the UN General Assembly meeting next week. “This is in line with our close bilateral partnership and commitment to cooperation on a range of issues, including the Indo-Pacific. area”.
But the wounds are too rough, they may not heal quickly, and the French are still frustrated by their obstruction. “We have never heard of what happened… These discussions have obviously been going on for several months,” a French official said.
As early as June, French officials repeatedly asked their Australian counterparts whether to change the contract from a conventional submarine to a nuclear-powered submarine made in France, because they suspected that Canberra was reconsidering. According to French officials, these issues were silenced.
An official used “wrong, wrong, wrong” as an excuse to refute any idea that France did not correctly implement the submarine agreement with Australia-saying these are bad excuses.
“There is a French proverb that says:’If you want to kill your dog, you say he has rabies’,” they said.
Since Barack Obama’s planned attack on the Syrian regime in 2013 and abandoning the French army preparing to start operations, France-US relations are now at their lowest point.
Macron has been working hard for many years to promote France and its EU partners to join and become a powerful country in the Indo-Pacific. The gem of these efforts is the contract signed with the French weapons supplier as part of the French-Australian strategic partnership.
The contract was finally signed in 2019 and was described as a “50-year wedding” between the two countries at the time. It is currently in progress. French engineers have been seconded to Australia to do most of the work there.
Pointing to the EU’s landmark strategic proposal for the region announced on Thursday, the French diplomat said: “We have allowed many Europeans to go a long way on the Indo-Pacific road.”
“Three years ago, because of anti-China affairs, it was absolutely impossible to obtain any agreement containing the words’Indo-Pacific Strategy’ from the 27 countries.”
A French person familiar with the deal said that, like other major powers, it is normal for the United States to use its strategic prowess—and its promise of support in wartime—to snatch weapons contracts from rivals such as France. Negotiation.
“This is the rule of the game. No one is shocked by this,” the person said. But forcibly canceling an already implemented contract in order to win business is another matter. “This is not common.”
The French were particularly angry because Biden spent eight months talking about the importance of strengthening the alliance with Europe against China and repairing the damage caused by Donald Trump.
But some US officials said Canberra has a responsibility to notify the French of any changes in the contract.
The State Department’s description of Macron’s June meeting with Brinken did not mention any discussions about the Indo-Pacific alliance. At the joint press conference that day, Le Drian called for “strengthening” in the Indo-Pacific region, but Brinken did not mention this issue. The main topics during Brinken’s visit were Russia, China, the Sahel and Lebanon.
“Safety Initiative [Ausuk] This is an important step forward for Biden’s Asian policy, but it also intensifies the EU’s claim that they are taken for granted,” said Thomas Wright, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution.
“A statement of support for the alliance will no longer be sufficient. The United States and Europe need to be more frank in their strategic approach to each other’s consensus and differences in their interests, even if it is embarrassing.”
Nicholas Dungan, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and CEO of leadership consulting firm CogitoPraxis, called the incident a “wrong tragedy” by all parties.
“The French have many signs that the Australians are unhappy. The Australians have blinded the French, rather than being equal to them. The Americans have become victims of their obsession with China, without thinking from the world at all,” he said.
However, Paris was relatively isolated from Aukus’ anger, and the rest of the EU reacted fairly calmly, which would limit the pressure on Washington and Canberra.
Haddad said that the rift will still have long-term effects on France’s relations with NATO and its allies and on arms procurement, while other analysts have warned that France may overreact and harm its own interests.
“France has global influence, but it cannot project global power,” Dungan said. “France does not need to cater to the United States as it thinks U.K It is true, but it should give Washington a belief that France has brought indispensable and irreplaceable tangible benefits to the United States, the Indo-Pacific region, and the entire relationship. In my opinion, France’s symbolic gesture of anger has largely failed to achieve this goal. “
At the very least, Okus’ shock will support Macron’s argument since his election in 2017 that Europe needs to do more for its own security. As Le Drian and French Defense Minister Florence Pali said, the new agreement will only “enhance the need to raise the issue of European strategic autonomy loudly and clearly”.
Additional report by Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington