France was none-too-pleased in September of 2021 when they were blindsided by the announcement of a new security agreement between the US, UK, and Australia (AUKUS) — one which included bringing Australia into the nuclear submarine fold.
As RedState’s streiff noted at the time:
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.”
As streiff wryly added: “Do you want to know how mad the French were? They compared Biden to Trump.”
France reacted with fury to President Biden’s announcement of a deal to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines, calling it a “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision” that resembled sudden policy shifts during the Trump administration. https://t.co/2aqxidlNYn
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) September 16, 2021
The French fit of pique didn’t last terribly long, however. By the end of September 2021, France’s ambassador, Philippe Étienne, had returned to the U.S. and reaffirmed “the goal to rebuild trust in our relationship,” while acknowledging there was still work to be done.
I am back in the US with a clear mandate following the conversation between our presidents which has defined the conditions and the priorities for this re-engagement, with the goal to rebuild trust in our relationship—a process that will involve a great deal of work.
— Philippe Etienne (@Ph_Etienne) September 30, 2021
On Monday, President Biden was in California to celebrate the AUKUS deal. Per the Washington Post:
In this case, that means France, which briefly recalled its ambassador after Australia, Britain and the United States surprised the world in September 2021 with the new AUKUS security pact. Why? AUKUS scuttled a blockbuster contract for Paris to supply Canberra with diesel-electric subs.
Biden was set to deliver remarks at 5:00 pm Eastern following a meeting with UK and Australian leaders.
The leaders issued a joint statement prior to their appearance at Naval Base Pointa Loma in San Diego.
“We believe in a world that protects freedom and respects human rights, the rule of law, the independence of sovereign states, and the rules-based international order.
“The steps we are announcing today will help us to advance these mutually beneficial objectives in the decades to come.”
While France was angered over the loss of a $66 billion contract to build a fleet of conventional submarines, China is no fan of the deal either.
China has argued that the AUKUS deal violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It contends that the transfer of nuclear weapons materials from a nuclear-weapon state to a non-nuclear-weapon state is a “blatant” violation of the spirit of the pact. Australian officials have pushed back against the criticism, arguing that it they are working to acquire nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed, submarines.
“The question is really how does China choose to respond because Australia is not backing away from what it — what it sees to be doing in its own interests here,” said Charles Edel, a senior adviser and Australia chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I think that probably from Beijing’s perspective they’ve already counted out Australia as a wooable mid country. It seemed to have fully gone into the U.S. camp.”
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