Why France is so outraged by the US, Australia and UK defense pact

On Friday night, France withdrew its ambassadors from the United States and Australia, outraged by the defense pact those countries signed with the United Kingdom over the Indo-Pacific region. A diplomatically unprecedented response.

Deception, deception, contempt and a great breach of trust: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian did not hide his anger, in the broadcast on Saturday night on the television channel. France 2. With the announcement of the defense pact, the United States and Australia have entered a “serious crisis” with France. According to the minister, this justifies the revocation of the French ambassadors in both countries. Withdrawing from London, also involved in the pact, would be futile, according to Le Drian. ‘We know your permanent opportunism. Also, Britain is a bit of a fifth wheel here. ‘

The French movement is unprecedented; It is the country’s first retreat of ambassadors from the United States and Australia. A symbolic step that is also unusual among friendly countries. “With this we want to show our partners that we are very dissatisfied,” Le Drian explained about the measure. “In a royal alliance we speak, we respect each other. That was not the case here. ‘ According to the minister, the Australians had informed him an hour before the announcement. Although the United States also says it has had prior contact with the French, Paris denounces the “unilateral, brutal and unexpected” decision. “Biden’s method is similar to Trump’s,” Le Drian said, “but without the tweets.”

‘Contract of the century’

The defense pact announced between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia ends the deal that France had with Australia for the delivery of twelve submarines. That “contract of the century,” as the deal was called in France, is more than an economic question. It was at the heart of French strategy in the Indo-Pacific. As the French ambassador in Canberra put it firmly: “It was not a contract, it was a partnership based on trust, mutual understanding and sincerity.” France now feels betrayed in that association.

The French have long sought to expand their influence in the Indo-Pacific, a region where tensions between China and the United States converge. France also has some overseas territories, such as French Polynesia and New Caledonia. In recent years, the French have made a firm commitment to strengthening diplomatic relations, with particular emphasis on Australia. The delivery of twelve submarines was a crucial part of that rapprochement, French President Emmanuel Macron again stressed last June when he received Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Elysee. The exchange of knowledge and technology would link both countries for decades to come.

The biggest crisis since Iraq

The fact that the Franco-Australian deal is now being canceled is shaking up the strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, according to French media. In addition, it puts tensions between Washington and Paris. Gérard Araud, a former French ambassador to the United States, spoke of the worst diplomatic crisis since Iraq in 2003. France later refused to participate in the US war in Iraq, saying the raid was illegitimate and illegal.

After the chaotic and uncoordinated departure from Afghanistan, this agreement is another warning for Europe to work on its own strategic sovereignty, the French newspaper said. The world. It is a message that President Macron has been emphasizing within the EU for some time. The new Anglo-Saxon alliance to counter China’s growing power raises “existential questions” about Europe’s position in the world, according to the newspaper.

Vince Fernandez

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