Ian Patrick, FISM News
The newly announced Indo-Pacific AUKUS alliance which includes the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia has received considerable blowback from France. This is due to the fact that France had a separate security contract with Australia in place since 2016, but the Aussies tore up that deal in favor of AUKUS.
The three nations spelled out the specifics of the deal in a joint presentation on Wednesday. As part of the agreement, the United States will share its nuclear-powered submarine technology with Australia and assist in creating a fleet of them.
The now defunct deal between France and Australia had a similar goal in updating Australia’s submarine fleet with a new one that would have cost $40 million. Shortly after the joint presentation, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio that the Australian move to AUKUS was “a stab in the back.”
Le Drian further expressed his anger saying, “We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed and I’m angry today, with a lot of bitterness, about this breach.” He also likened the “brutal” move to “what Mr. Trump used to do.”
This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do. I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies.
France then took their vitriol of the announced pact to the next level in the form of a protest. The country cancelled an American gala celebrating the Revolutionary War . The gala was intended to celebrate French-U.S. relations during the war, specifically the “240th Anniversary of the Battle of the Capes.” It was originally scheduled for Friday evening at the French embassy in Washington, D.C. and aboard a French frigate in Baltimore.
The French Embassy said the decision to exclude their country from the partnership was “regrettable”:
“The 🇺🇸 choice to exclude a 🇪🇺 ally and partner such as 🇫🇷 from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region (…) shows a lack of coherence that 🇫🇷 can only note and regret.”https://t.co/ruGnJkQAWa
— French Embassy U.S. (@franceintheus) September 16, 2021
The U.S. however is continuing to try and reach out to French counterparts to find common ground in the deterrence of powerful forces in the Indo-Pacific region such as China and North Korea. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a press conference that the U.S. wants to “deepen” their “cooperation” with France in the region.
France, in particular, is a vital partner on this and so many other issues stretching back generations, and we want to find every opportunity to deepen trans-Atlantic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.