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What’s behind Macron’s fury? The secrecy of the Aukus talks suggests a deliberate hit on Paris

Is he sincerely grumpy or just pretending? Credit: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images

Is he sincerely grumpy or just pretending? Credit: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images


September 20, 2021   6 mins

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, is a cautious man, solid, reliable, even a little dull. He is not (unlike some French politicians) prone to empty gestures or over-dramatic statements. On Saturday night, on live television, Mr Le Drian, accused the United States government of lying to France. He also accused Australia of “lies and duplicity”.

Britain, he said, was guilty merely of its “usual opportunism”. Boris Johnson’s government was the “fifth wheel on the cart” in an unfriendly conspiracy against France by the two other English-speaking nations.

This is not normal language between allies – certainly not that of an experienced foreign minister speaking to his nation on live TV. There was a “serious crisis” between Paris, Washington and Canberra, Le Drian said, “a serious breach of trust”.

Three days into the great US-Australian-French Submarine Row, Le Drian made no attempt to lower periscope and dive into calmer waters. He exploded a series of diplomatic depth charges. He warned of further “consequences”, perhaps related to the fact that French officials say that they have documents which prove that President Joe Biden’s government lied to America’s oldest ally, France.

The fallout was caused by the Pacific security pact announced last week — AUKUS — which included a vague plan to build up to eight US-designed nuclear-powered submarines for Australia by an unspecified date. At the same time as detailing this, Canberra announced that it was cancelling a five-years old, Euros 60bn French contract to supply 12 diesel-powered submarines to the Australian navy by 2030.

This was the same 2016 deal that Australian and French ministers met to discuss last month. Although problems were discussed — cost-overruns, delays, design changes — a joint statement was agreed which restated the “importance of the (2016) contract”.

French officials now say they believe that the Australia-US-UK discussions have been going on for at least six months. And they suspect that they may have begun 18 months ago, under the Trump administration, and were then pursued by the Biden White House – which denied their existence in correspondence with France.

Hence the accusations of “lies and duplicity”. And hence France’s highly unusual step of withdrawing ambassadors from its allies Australia and the United States. And, in possibly the first example of a country being snubbed by a decision by another country not to recall its ambassador, Mr Le Drian said that the Johnson government had played only a small, “opportunistic” role in the affair.

Some British commentators have been delighted by France’s anger. This is all, they suggest, the “usual” French sulking and pique. Paris was excluded from the AUKUS partnership and from the new submarine deal, they say, because France is an “unreliable” ally and the French naval-building company, Naval Group, had messed up its “deal of the century” with Australia.

Other senior diplomats and former diplomats say that this is a gross misreading of what may come to be seen as the most serious diplomatic crisis within the western alliance since the second Iraq war in 2003 or the Suez Crisis in 1956.

Further reading
What's behind Macron's fury?

By Aris Roussinos

Lord Peter Ricketts, a former British ambassador to Paris and Nato and a former head of the Foreign Office, said: “France sees it as a betrayal by the British and the US, who did this secretly with Australia for the last six months. French diplomats have told me that America lied about what they were doing and they will be releasing documents to show that America lied. They are asking themselves, ‘What is the point of being a Nato ally if this is how the US behaves?’”

GĂ©rard Araud, a former French ambassador to Washington, wrote yesterday: “[The United States] deliberately trampled the important interests of an ally
They might have invited France to join the project or offered some form of compensation. They couldn’t be bothered.”

The great winner in the saga, to date, is China — the intended “target” of the AUKUS pact and the reason why Australia sought upgraded submarine defences, which will now be delayed until the 2040s. Beijing must be looking on in delighted bemusement.

France is by no means free from blame. The Barracuda submarine programme, agreed under President Francois Hollande, has been subject to cost hikes and delays – some, but not all, caused by Australian second-thoughts and the promise that much of the work would be exported to Adelaide.

The suggestion in French media is that President Macron and his government took their eye off the ball: they didn’t monitor the submarine programme properly and failed to pick up on the secret talks with the USA. Where was French diplomacy? Where was the French external intelligence service?

The promised submarines were a nuclear-powered French design, reconfigured for diesel engines at Australia’s request. When France suspected that Canberra had changed its mind, it offered nuclear subs but the Australian government refused (while secretly asking for nuclear subs from the US).

In Australia, though, the decision by Scott Morrison’s government to throw over the French contract has not been universally well-received. Canberra has been shilly-shallying about better submarines for the Australian navy since 2009. First a Japanese order was cancelled; now a French one. So the Australian tax-payer will once again be landed with billions of dollars for cancellation payments. There is no firm plan for the new US nuclear subs, just a “plan to have a plan” as the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out. Less work and less technology will probably be exported to Australia than under the French deal.

“Australia can now contemplate another decade or two with no new subs,” wrote Peter Hartcher, political editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. “And even if this proposal goes to plan, Australia will not have a full sovereign capability but an increased defence dependency on the US.”

There is an important part of this story which is often missing from British commentary. France is Australia’s neighbour. It is a Pacific nation — even a Pacific power. It is also an Indian Ocean nation.

Australia’s nearest neighbour to the east is New Caledonia, a French overseas territory, which is constitutionally part of France, not a French colony. Going west for a few thousand miles, Australia’s long-distance Indian Ocean neighbour is the island of RĂ©union, a French overseas dĂ©partement. The torpedoed submarine deal was the cornerstone of a new Pacific and Indian Ocean security partnership between France and Australia — re-asserted this year when Prime Minister Morrisson visited President Emmanuel Macron in the ElysĂ©e Palace.  That deal is now also, in effect, dead.

The French had hopes of playing an allied but independent-minded role in the Indo-Pacific region, alongside Australia, the United States and Japan. Macron especially wanted to strengthen France’s role there because he feared that Washington — whichever President might be in power — would stumble into a confrontational approach to China. He wanted Europe to have its own calming voice in western-Chinese relations.

Some commentators in France are suggesting that AUKUS is just a vulgar arms deal dressed up as a security pact. Washington, they say, was under pressure from the US military-industrial lobby to steal the French deal when evidence emerged that it was struggling (as all such big deals do). Senior French sources say that, au contraire, the principal attraction for Washington was to destroy the Franco-Oz pact and putting the French in their place. European and other countries are officially encouraged by the US to join in the policing of the Pacific or the South China Sea – but as junior partners not as thinking heads.

The former Washington ambassador, GĂ©rard Araud, says: “The United States have identified a single enemy, China and all foreign policy is subordinated to that imperative
They can only conceive of coalitions as under their direction and will only work with countries which accept a secondary role, such as the UK and Australia.”

Other sources suggest that the reality is more muddled. Neither the Trump nor the Biden administrations took the trouble to understand French interests in the Indo-Pacific. Insofar as they did, they were neutral or unsympathetic. American commercial and geo-political interests came first.

The secrecy of the talks — the failure to involve France in some way — does suggest that the US approach was a deliberate hit on Paris and Macron. Hence the extreme fury in the ElysĂ©e Palace.

Could Macron be deliberately over-reacting for domestic political reasons? Not exactly. His fury is, I am told, sincere. But Macron also knows that a high-profile assertion of French independence from Washington will do him no harm in the presidential election in April. The alternative — protesting in a more conventional way and playing down the affair — might have been very damaging.

In truth, Macron is in an odd position, both humiliated by what he sees as US treachery and vindicated by it. The French President has been saying for almost four years that Nato is “brain dead” and that Europe should no longer rely on the Atlantic alliance with the United States to defend, or even consider, European interests.

Le Drian said on Saturday that France would now make that point even more forcefully at the Nato summit in Madrid next year. Lord Ricketts predicts that the Pacific submarine saga will cause a “huge rift” within the Atlantic alliance.

As things stand — or as they stood — there are few takers for Macron’s vision of a European Union which plays a much bigger role in defending its own security and prosperity in association with Nato. Few other EU countries want to face the consequences of losing the American guarantee against Russia or having to pay more for their own defence.

That will not be transformed overnight but the tectonic plates might shift. European Nato countries were already badly shaken by America’s failure to consult on its withdrawal from Afghanistan. They must now consider the implications of the AUKUS affair — Washington mendaciously crushing the interests of an ally.

Nato in its present form survived Donald Trump. Can it survive Joe Biden?


John Lichfield was Paris correspondent of The Independent for 20 years. Half-English and half-Belgian, he was born in Stoke-on-Trent and lives in Normandy.

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

Fundamentally France cannot be relied upon as an ally. What better demonstration of that fact could there be than Macron’s melodramatic over-reaction, withdrawing his ambassadors from the US and Australia in a tantrum?
Who in their right mind goes into a close strategic alliance (that shares military secrets and hardware – even Nuclear technology) with a country so given to fits of pique? Just witness all the petty acts of vindictiveness from the Elysee Palace towards the UK throughout the Brexit negotiations. These were not over substantive matters, there were no strategic advantages for the EU – indeed there was growing exasperation among EU leaders at Macron provoking the UK Govt at every turn, quite unnecessarily.
Earlier in the Summer, at the G7, whilst the UK, US and Australia were discussing this new alliance, M Macron’s energies were being directed at UK Sausages!
France has its own Nuclear capability, but not even France’s closest allies in the “European Family” would ever trust Macron (or any of his likely successors) to act in solidarity if a “lesser” member state was threatened. France cannot even be trusted to always act in its own self-interest – when the whim and caprice of its leaders is such an enduring national characteristic.
Realists among the military top-brass of European nations must make the case for NATO to their own Govts. Far from AUKUS damaging NATO, I believe it may well strengthen it in the long run, by forcefully making the point that EU nations can no longer just take it for granted that their security is somehow America and Britain’s job. Sure, the institution of the EU might want the pomp of its own army, but heads of Govt of the member states still have their own national security to think about.
Given how the EU relies on the US to protect them, it seems rather self-defeating how often EU leaders denigrated the grudge-bearer-in-chief, Trump – and NATO (by refusing to pay anything like their fair share).
Did it never occur to the leaders of European NATO member states that if you keep insulting the man under whose umbrella you’re sheltering, you shouldn’t be too surprised if he walks off leaving you at the mercy of the weather?
Trump may not have abandoned Europe, but it would seem – given his refusal to inform NATO allies of his plans for Afghanistan – that Biden’s handlers do not view any EU nation (individually or as a bloc) as an ally worthy of note.
One of the great lies told of Brexit was that it would please Putin – but if Ursula von der Leyen and others get their way and manage to field an EU army then it would be all of Putin’s Christmases come at once. Anything that undermines or destabilises NATO would be playing right into his hands.
The solution to the West’s collective defence strategy is unchanged – as Trump, all his predecessors and anyone with their eyes open, has long recognised. Leaders of European nations need to divvy up and pay their fair share to support NATO. Instead they seem to prefer the self-aggrandising pomp of forming “their own” EU army. If a Euro Army ever came into being, we already know what Brussels’ common defence policy priorities are – we’ve seen the paperwork and budgets. Spending billions to build a shiny new headquarters, to house yet more wretched bureaucrats, and with all the strategic effectiveness of the Maginot line.
Perhaps I’m being cynical but I have the suspicion that an EU army is just another item on the checklist so that Brussels can bolster its imperial pretensions – but not a real, effective fighting force, so much as a vanity project, a decorative show of pomp – decked out in suitably gaudy, faux-Prussian dress uniforms to parade outside the institution’s buildings with as much grandeur and ceremony as possible – to allow the preening panjandrums of the Berlaymont to feel even more self-important (if such a thing were possible).
It is NATO that has kept the peace in Europe since the war – not the EU. Indeed you could make the case that NATO has kept the peace despite, rather than because of, the EU. Lord Owen, once a committed Europhile and an acknowledged geopolitical and defence expert, made the point that the idea of the EU guaranteeing European security is “not merely laughable but downright dangerous. Even half-believing it to be true would be a threat to our security”.
The apparatchiks of the EU will be the first to bleat and moan about this new anglophone strategic axis, but once again it is their arrogance and intransigence that brought us to it.
The rest of Europe has little strategic interest in the Pacific, and thus AUKUS. They will merely be content that there is some new bulwark against China there. Which is why it is so galling for France to be left out of AUKUS, as they really do have significant strategic territorial interests there. I’d love to know if that point will be made to Macron by advisors or other EU heads of state (and I’d love to be a fly on the wall to watch his reaction if they did). Europe’s bigger concern is Russia – and there NATO is the only credible counterweight. If EU Nations put a fairer share into NATO then it would surely be in the US longterm interest to keep NATO strong. If EU states refuse to pay their way then it becomes a very hard thing to sell to the American people, even for a President that was more europe-focused than Sleepy Joe Bedtime.
Alliances, over time, may wax and wane, but interests endure and so I’m confident that the pragmatism of strategic reality will eventually trump (no pun intended) the petulance and petty spite of a slighted Macron.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Even by UnHerd’s high standards, yours is an outstanding post.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

Indeed! Much though I love France in terms of culture, food, etc, we must take a firm view politically.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave




Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Whatever the validity of some of your your wider points about the EU, Nato, does not cover the Indo Pacific region, and it seems that France is not the only country being petty and unreliable. I agree that it was treated with great disrespect and the outcome is very poor the West as a whole. Other would-be allies in Asia, very much closer to China, may well come to the conclusion that they would be better served not simply acting as a subordinate agent in the US’s sole interests.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Andrew,
Apologies if i was not clear – I thought I’d made it plain (though clearly not) that NATO defends the Europe’s eastern flank against Russia. AUKUS seeks to do the same to counter China.
Europe needs NATO – obviously not in the Pacific, but for their own security – the US (people and president) will only support NATO if member nations pull their weight.
Most European nations have no strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific. Of course they want a bulwark against China – and one that is made up of Western democratic countries – but I don’t think AUKUS will worry many european govts. France, on the other hand, has significant strategic involvements in the Indo-Pacific, and so being left out of AUKUS is a national humiliation for them. But, for the reasons I laid out, it’s unsurprising they were cut out. They are not an ally to be trusted.
When you write “France is not the only country being petty and unreliable” …. who did you have in mind?

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The French would disagree with the idea that they are not to be trusted. On balance, I think that they are right. It’s true that the French need very careful handling and management, as Churchill found (in spades) with de Gaulle in WW2. But that’s different from being untrustworthy. The French would argue that the sinking of the French fleet in 1940 by British battleships shows that the English are not to be trusted. And so on.
It’s easy to be triumphalist when you’ve won the jackpot (or think you have – this could still turn out to be a poisoned chalice for the US and UK, as the French and Japanese discovered to their cost). Growing Chinese power makes a united front imperative. Who knows what the French will now consider to be in their national interest ? This is a foolish and mistaken decision, which will come back to bite various politicians, bureaucrats and even countries. Mark my words.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

France could have sailed the fleet into British waters or scuttled it. Btitain could not fight the Germans, French and Italians in the Mediterranean.
As Operation Pedestal – The Malta convoy sailed past Gibralter, a Vichy Frence Pilot reported in En Clair . German and Italian torpedo boats from Vichy Tunisia sunk several ships on Operation Pedestal the most important convoy in WW2. Malta was 6 weeks away from surrender.
Noor Khan GC was betrayed to the Gestapo by a French woman envious of her beauty.
The French in Indo China collaborated with the Japanese.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

The French have always studied their own interests. Macron’s hissy-fits are because other countries are wise to French history.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

The French would disagree with the idea that they are not to be trusted. On balance, I think that they are right.

Ooh, I dunno. It’s often forgotten that there was a fierce campaign in WW2 in Syria and Lebanon between Vichy French versus Free French and Commonwealth forces. The Commonwealth won, but this gratuitous conflict absorbed 35,000 men who could have been used much better in the Western Desert.
And of course French troops fighting on both sides…not exactly what you look for in an ally.

Jacques Rossat
Jacques Rossat
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Very well said and, in my opinion, true.
The France-bashing of the initial post doesn’t do anything to explain why AUKUS wouldn’t have been evenworthwile with France as a part of it.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacques Rossat

US + UK + France + Australia ? Now, there’s a combination for China to conjure with.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

And the potential acronym would be a gift to satirists!

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacques Rossat

For the same reason that France was not invited to share Five Eyes intel either. Not trusted with such sensitive information.
If you decry what you see as the “France-bashing”, can you be honest enough to look back over the last 4 years and see how many times Macron has, quite deliberately, tried to undermine the UK? Over Northern Ireland, over Galileo, threatening energy supplies to the Channel Islands, over trade, over migrants, – even over sausages for heavens sake.
Needlessly antagonistic – and for no other perceived benefit than to “get one over” the British.
Such spats are not private. They are seen and noted by other countries, other world leaders. France’s behaviour towards “allies” – both recently and historically – comes at a price. Macron and France are now paying that price.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
John Hicks
John Hicks
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Trustworthy French? Not, I suspect, that elite political or military class of French decision makers effecting Nations of the Pacific down under. Over 30 years of French nuclear explosions (Mururoa 1966-96) and French special forces (later awarded medals) in an attack to destroy a vessel (Rainbow Warrior) in Auckland harbour, has pretty much destroyed what trust peoples of Australasia and Oceania may have had in the French. Most are children, grand children and great grandchildren of men and women, either survivors or (46,000 Aussies, 16,000 Kiwis in War One; 9,500 Aussies and 12,000 Kiwis in War Two) buried in French cemeteries fighting to assist liberate French people from oppression since 1914. War Two also included having to fight against more than half the French population who rather preferred the then occupying Nazi regime to any support for the liberators. Those who did return to Australia and New Zealand; to Fiji and to other Pacific Nations told their children stories that resonate to this day. Never Trust the French! Most don’t, with many good reasons. The notion of military involvement of any kind with these people is quite scary. My reading of comments related to the terminated submarine contract is of an overwhelming sigh of relief. Not perhaps from the “South of France” brigade of Aussie tourists. They would be the commentators you refer to who are most distressed by any falling out with these strange people.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

That fleet was sunk because Churchill did not, could not, trust a government and a Navy under the orders of the collaborationist Vichy government. Read some history.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The UK ???? Random guess

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Sans doute!
I just wanted to see if Andrew could list some of these instances on HM Govt’s charge sheet that made them “petty and unreliable”
and see if they measured up to the litany of M Macron’s regime.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Both foolish and superficial. A trifecta is within your grasp.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Exactly so. I have echoed what you have said, but you put it far more eloquently. I should have read your post first!

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

One of the jokes with regards to the EU army is that it is meant to be complementary to, not a replacement of NATO. As the EU nations have refused to fund NATO fairly, good luck to France getting them to fund a second multi billion Euro organisation.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

Several supposed NATO countries fiddle the numbers on what they do contribute. Germany, for example, includes autobahn spending in its tally of what it spends on defence. The value of well-kept German autobahns to NATO in 1950 seems fairly clear, but it’s not as obvious how they’ll be useful when China invades Taiwan.

George Knight
George Knight
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Maybe Macron sees himself as Napoleon……Elba might just be beckoning though. Alternatively, he might be thinking “If there is anyone amongst you who would kill his President, here I stand.”

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Excellent . I would add there is no point in having armed forces, especially armies, unless selection and training is run by the likes of LT Col Peter Walter MC and Bar, a Squadron Sergeant Major in the SAS at 25 years of age.
His attitude to rules and regulations was that they were there for guidance only. His maxim was “Any bloody fool can run and everybody can run like rabbits when under fire. It is whether a soldier can march long distances, carrying all his kit, across all terrains, in all weathers 
 and still be fit to fight. That is the mark of a good soldier.
Comment by member of the SAS
 He was a hard man and he trained hard men for war.”
Lt col peter walter highly decorated soldier with the sas nicknamed %e2%80%98the rat%e2%80%99 for his grit and resourcefulness %e2%80%93 obituary | Blog | Vets – The Next Step (vetsnextstep.com)
Also most European Nations are not prepared to accept casualties as shown in Afghanistan. So are there alternative reasons for an EU Army? I consider the EU wants to dissolve national armies because it wants to dissolve nations but realises it will need a capability for internal supression against all those rising up and revolting against their loss of freedom..
The EU does not need standards achived by the training of Lt Col Peter Walter but needs a paramilitary unit like the KGB for internal suppression and preventing people escaping. The KGB had100s of thousands of troops for internal suppression and as border guards. Theye were not well trained ( useless against German Army ) but good enough to kill un-armed civilians and those escaping.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Interesting read.
But you know
..we the average Joe
..or Jean
..do not give a hoot really. You are wasting valuable energy with your totally unnecessary bashing
.unless it makes you feel better. The french news channels go on and on with this and it has become a challenge to find a channel that delivers some interesting news about the state of the world.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Bruno,
I’ve no wish to be rude to you, but what a strange reply. I’ve not been “bashing” so much as describing how this situation came about – though if you’d like my personal opinion, I’m afraid it was richly deserved.
You say, we the average Joe
..or Jean
..do not give a hoot really” but that isn’t true here on these pages, is it? The very fact that you and I are here means that we are among the (vanishingly few) who follow poltical events on a daily basis and wish to read and write about them.
If anyone does then we – both you and I – do give a hoot. Which makes your response seem weirdly defensive or at least somewhat passive-aggressive.
Clearly you care, or you wouldn’t be here. So, I’ve a few questions – and be honest, don’t be martyrish about them:

  • Do you think France’s (Macron’s) attitude and behaviour towards Britain has been justified over all the Brexit negotiations?
  • Do you think all the instances I listed of France’s vindictive behaviour were justified?
  • Do you think such behaviour made France – and Macron – look strong, or hopelessly weak, in the eyes of the world?
  • Can you point to any comment from senior figures within HM Govt that have been disparaging of France or our relationship with France?
  • Do you honestly think that the UK, The US and Australia would enter into such an alliance and choose to exclude France without long and careful thought?
  • What do you imagine might be the reasons for excluding France – if not for, as I stated, the sincere belief that France cannot be trusted as an ally in a pinch?

and then…….

  • Do you think Macron will learn from this?
  • Or do you think he will just stamp his little feet and seethe …. and then try to turn any antipathy towards perfidious Anglo-Saxons into electoral advantage.
Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Truly
.I do not give a hoot. The fact that I lure on this pages is not a proof of what all this commotion does to me
..to us

.I read everything 
..well
.almost 
..of what Unherd sends me.
But since you asked and to reply in a nutshell
..I think Britain wanted to have its cake and eat it

be out to avoid all the EU inconveniences and in for a free ride.
Sorry
..nogo.
As to Macron
..he is a high strung adolescent who confuses arrogance with strength but then
.this is by and large a french trait. Unfortunately in this country, if you do not act brutal, people think you’re a wimp 

who cares ?? 
..but treat you as such. A lot of the Brexit nĂ©gociations show was also for the benefit of the french audience. Having said that
..Boris Johnson is buffoon. The 2 of them make a wonderful couple.
The French unreliable allies ??? I am not in the military, so I don’t know. If history serves, back in the days, the french honoured their treaty with Poland when Germany invaded them and so did the Brits. Second, France and Britain still seem to have a strong military alliance despite everything.
Submarine ??? I never understood why on earth, given the sheer size of their country, the Aussies bought a diesel sub whose design was to be nuclear in the first place. But the fact of the matter is and you’ll have to trust me on that one, no one in France apart from politicians and news channels, cares one bit wether Australia buys a sub from us or not.

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Sadly, some truth. Macron’s fury has worn thin in the UK. Toddler tantrum since Brexit.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Thank you for this brilliant analysis and argument.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago

The interesting sub text to all this and alluded to in the article, is that France was trying to undermine American status in the Pacific, due to its usual Gallic arrogance that it knew better how to handle China.

It’s not surprising that the US slapped them down and put them back in their place.

A few small colonies (for this in reality is what they are), don’t make you a regional power.

Last edited 2 years ago by Clive Mitchell
Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

Well then the EU army is a necessity. In any case China isn’t an enemy of Europe but it is an enemy of the Anglo sphere.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago

I’m curious to know what it is that makes the EU army a necessity?

At the moment China isn’t anyone’s enemy.

Hopefully it will stay that way, but that’s dependent on China.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

China isn’t anyone’s enemy, except the Uighers, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan and numerous countries in the South China Sea as they try to enforce their ludicrous 9 dash line. This is before we get to it’s weaponisation of debt that it uses against developing nations, in Africa especially confiscating strategic ports when the countries can’t keep up with the obscene repayments, or its use trade as a weapon against those that criticise it such as Australia. Theft of intellectual property, currency manipulation, dumping of steel, the list goes on.
Never mind China being nobodies enemy, I’m not sure it’s anybody’s friend

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I’m not denying any of that. I was meaning enemy in a more formal, State on State way.

I suppose it could count on N. Korea as a friend. For all that would be worth.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Has good relations with Pakistan

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

An EU Army can be used for internal suppression.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

Strange to say- but I think there is continuation by the dysfunctional Biden Whitehouse of the dysfunctional Trump Administrations policies/attitudes towards France. Both Administrations didn't / don't get, didn't/ don't like Frances, or rather Macrons, strutting and self preening. I just don't think Americans can make themselves trust a pecking hen that thinks its a rooster !
Back in late 2018 ( i think), Macron felt the weight of US power e.g. after he threated tax on US companies, and he didn
t like feeling the weight of that US power one bit. Macron backed down but Trump, the US, allowed it to be seen as a truce saving Macron some face.
But the French still tried to have the last word in early 2019 with the departing French Ambassador to the US making it clear that France didn’t believe the US had allies or friends anymore, rather it just had bilateral arrangements where the US held the balance of power and thus able to defend its own interest, (as if it was some startling new revelation that the US uses its power to defend its own interest )!
So, if Macron and his chickens thought that then they must think the same in spades now !

Last edited 2 years ago by hugh bennett
Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

Every country puts its self interest first. It’s what we expect of our Government.

Of course sometimes it’s not always obvious what our self interest is.

Last edited 2 years ago by Clive Mitchell
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

The French establishment (I never blame the people) have gone out of their way to run this country down and be deliberately obstructive over Brexit. Why on earth would anyone want to consult them? I’m amazed this thing didn’t leak – I bet it would have if the EU has been involved. This all seems to stem back from Brexit. They just have not gotten over it and I think UK independence really galls them. The British people took a democratic decision to leave the EU and the British government carried it out. End of. For the French to start talking about ‘vassal states’ having tried to keep the British a vassal of the EU – and being one themselves – is laughably absurd.

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I am French and I cannot disagree. The EU conducted the Brexit negotiations with spite and malice. The French approach to Brexit was gratuitously vindictive, absolutely. This was counterproductive and has damaged relations unnecessarily (as we can see in so many responses on this page). I would only add that this blame should be divided between Paris, Berlin and Brussels.

Last edited 2 years ago by JP Martin
J P
J P
2 years ago

‘What is the point of being a Nato ally if this is how the US behaves?’” – a quote from unnamed French diplomats. One may very well return a question of “what is the point of allowing a NATO ally to remain a member when they have never upheld their financial commitment (2%)?
Macron criticises the U.K. at every opportunity for a Brexit which he helped engineer by refuting any discussion around treaty change to help the U.K. navigate domestic challenges that France continues to deal with. He then took every opportunity to share how he would make life difficult for the U.K. outside of the EU. Is it any wonder France has been excluded from AUKUS when Macron’s attitude is purely inward looking, ignores global threats and opportunities, and childishly seeks to score public points with his petulant language? This is likely the beginning of further exclusion for France on anything of global significance. Thoroughly deserved.

Oan Osborne
Oan Osborne
2 years ago

I think your assessment of Australian public reaction to the breaking of the French subs deal (“has not been universally well-received”) while literally true, gives an entirely wrong impression. Public support for the decision is strong and reaches across the political spectrum, for example, the Labor Party leader and Shadow Defence Minister have both come out publicly in support.
The only opponents are the left wing of the Labor Party and the Greens.
You buttress your assertion about this by quoting Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald without informing the reader that Hartcher is a fierce opponent of the Liberal Government and the Sydney Morning Herald is a partisan left-wing rag.

Last edited 2 years ago by Oan Osborne
L Paw
L Paw
2 years ago
Reply to  Oan Osborne

Possibly because the columnist was correspondent for that anti Conservative, pro EU, metro centric progressive rag, The ‘Independent’…?

William McKinney
William McKinney
2 years ago
Reply to  Oan Osborne

As one might expect from someone who spent 20 years writing for a left wing rag.

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
2 years ago
Reply to  Oan Osborne

Yeah, I thought it was hilarious to quote the Sydney Morning Herald as indicative of Australian public opinion. The UK equivalent would be quoting The Grauniad as indicative of English public opinion.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago

If we’re being honest it is NATO carrying on as usual.
Whilst France’s independent spirit (over the past 15 years or so) can be commended to a point, it has played fast and loose with its commitment to the alliance. The Anglo nations, supported by other small but dedicated partners such as Estonia, Latvia and other Baltic nations have been the backbone of NATO since the start.
The French persistently acted independently and in spite of their allies on an operational and tactical level in the Middle East over that past few years. The US Military will not have forgotten it. They often created far more problems than they solved.
AUKUS are hand in glove at an operational and tactical level – and so it makes sense to plan on long-term strategies with trusted partners. If anything the French petulance illustrates perfectly why they were cut out.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Ask the mod just how easy it is to deal with the French. Off record they’ll tell you it’s murder.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

As a former MoD interpreter for the Procurement Executive I can confirm this.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

And vis versa 



Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

comment image

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago

What incredible hypocrisy! France wasn’t that fussed about making Brexit as difficult as they could, and now have the gall* to pretend to be affronted because the UK looks elsewhere.

  • No pun intended.
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

Le grand sulk really has been quite entertaining, you have to admit. The best quip going proposed that involving the French would have resulted in them wanting to take first place, and we simply couldn’t have the project being called FAUKUS…

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Being serious now, though, my interpretation of this exclusion is down to France quite openly planting its flag on the hill of the EU as its preferred vehicle to project its own power. The US is already underimpressed with how willing the EU has been to cuddle up to China, signing a trade pact before Biden was sworn in when the US would have preferred them to wait. That’s a trade issue rather than a military one, sure, but the EU is far more than a trading bloc now. EU interests already go further and entail certain geopolitical elements, even if, as an actor on the world stage, it’s still completely cack-handed. And who takes every opportunity to talk loudly about EU strategic autonomy? Macron. You cannot do that and expect other countries not to consider France’s wider national interests as being one and the same as those of the EU and forming their policy accordingly.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Not to mention France and Germany becoming dependent on Russian gas

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Actually it would have been worse as these things are generally alphabetical.

AUFUKUS

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I’m going to scream and scream and scream until I’m sick

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

Monsieur Macron, is that you?

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago

Ayez un grip, Macron.

Neil Cheshire
Neil Cheshire
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

There is also USUKA which could apply to any one or all of the players including France.

Last edited 2 years ago by Neil Cheshire
Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

… or backwards

Michael Joseph
Michael Joseph
2 years ago

This piece is ridiculous and obviously written by someone who has drunk deep of whatever is the French equivalent of kool-aid.
Where to begin? How about this beauty, which made me hoot out loud:
There is an important part of this story which is often missing from British commentary. France is Australia’s neighbour. It is a Pacific nation — even a Pacific power.
A Pacific power? In its dreams! New Caledonia! What a joke. That’s like saying Britain is a South American nation and a South American power because of the Falklands. Australia is a Pacific power. New Zealand is a Pacific power. As is the US, as is China, as are a bunch of other Asian nations. France is most definitively not a power in the region. What trading ties does France have in the region? Next to nothing. What influence does France have in the region? It doesn’t have any. If France is thought of at all in the region, it’s as an arrogant old world power that doesn’t know how to behave itself in a neighbourhood where it holds no sway. People in the region haven’t forgotten French nuclear testing (or the Rainbow Warrior for that matter…)
How about this?
The great winner in the saga, to date, is China… Beijing must be looking on in delighted bemusement.
From all accounts, the opposite is true. China is deeply p*ssed off and unhappy about AUKUS, which should tell you what a thoroughly good thing it is.
What’s also never mentioned in this piece of pro-French establishment propaganda is the whole issue of Brexit and the way Macron behaved (and has continued to behave) during the negotiations. Surely it’s obvious that if you treat an ally like an enemy, you shouldn’t be outraged or surprised when they turn around and do the same right back at you.
In all likelihood, France will be eventually be invited to join AUKUS (or whatever it’s eventually called). But no group of countries in their right mind (and certainly no group of anglo countries) would ever want a bureaucratic nightmare of a country like France involved in the early stages of an alliance like AUKUS. They’ve seen what the EU is like…
Until that happens, we should all have a good laugh at France’s expense and enjoy their absurd fit of pique.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Joseph

The French have several Islands within the French Polynesia group in the Pacific.

Michael Joseph
Michael Joseph
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

No kidding- that’s why I mentioned New Caledonia. Staking claim to a few beaches in the Pacific does not make you a Pacific nation. And it certainly doesn’t make you a Pacific power.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

I’ve been saying for years now that the USA must at some point wake up to the fact that it cannot maintain superpower status in isolation: China is just far, far too large for that. So America needs friends – this AUKUS pact is merely one small sign that the USA now understands this.

So why, if that’s true, would the USA deliberately annoy France? Simple: the USA needed direct involvement in Australia’s sea defence strategy as an essential precondition to building a USA-led pacific containment strategy against China, and France was in the way. The fact that France had buggered about with the contract and effectively failed to deliver just created the USA’s opportunity, that’s all.

As for the UK, it is very likely that the UK would have trod more carefully where annoying a key strategic ally was involved, but France has just spent four years doing the exact same thing over Brexit. It is very obvious that the UK strategy demoted the importance of the diplomatic fallout here, and it is amazing that France did not anticipate the possibility that this might eventually happen.

Brian Burnell
Brian Burnell
2 years ago

France does indeed have its own nuclear capability but keeps it strictly to itself, and has never participated in NATOs Nuclear Planning Group in which every NATO member plays a part. The UK and the US go further assigning their nuclear forces to NATOs target planning. France’s rejoining NATO’s Military Command Structure after many years absent doesn’t extend to nuclear planning issues.
The Australians too have had several bad experiences of being ripped-off by European defence contractors and are no doubt cautious when warning signs appear. Their current submarine fleet is a fine example. It never met its expected specifications. The builders, Kockums of Sweden (part of Saab) refused to transfer the design data needed by Australia to update the subs and correct their deficiencies. The result was a lengthy, expensive and messy court case and the delays were a serious threat to Australia’s national security. Since the retirement of their force of F-111 bombers the Aussies have relied upon a strong and expanded submarine force as their primary means of extended-range force projection. So it is entirely unsurprising that they should be extremely concerned and wary of French delays and cost hikes. As has been extensively discussed in many public forums for defence issues, with and without military circles. French claims to have had no warning are duplicitous. But perhaps that’s just the French being French.
The facts speak for themselves. The rest is just politics.

Richard Lord
Richard Lord
2 years ago

Most countries have their own interests at heart and will step over others if necessary. I think the French and the Americans will step on others just because they can. For those of us with long memories, during the Falkland war the Americans at least gave some support whilst there appeared zero from our ‘friends’ across the channel. In the main the French people are nice but should we trust their political class? Absolutely not.

Nick Bernard
Nick Bernard
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lord

I believe it was much less than zero. The French provided Exocets to the Argentinians and kept a team of trainers/engineers in Argentina throughout the war to ensure the weapons worked as intended. That’s definitely negative territory.

Graeme Cant
Graeme Cant
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Bernard

My ex-RAAF Mirage pilot friends all have a strongly held belief that the French refused to supply ammunition for the Mirages if they were used in Indo-China. I know of no written basis for their belief but it is one of the “founding myths” of RAAF fighter squadrons.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

Perhaps the USA is consciously, or unconsciously, moving from Pax Americana to Tin Eared Americana? Fed up with funding ‘World Peace’ with inadequate involvement of other countries it is now putting its own interests above some more abstract view.
Both Trump and Biden could be said to embody a tin-eared approach – rather less to do with their abilities than the stance of the state elites behind them.
It’s hardly surprising that Macron is so annoyed. France has put France first for some considerable time, and now that attitude has been called out. First Brexit, then AUKUS, and perhaps future political EU realignment around whoever takes over in Germany.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

However, “Putting France First” shouldn’t mean kicking everyone else’s teeth in!

Last edited 2 years ago by Ann Ceely
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

Sorry John, but the “your mother was a hamster” tone of the French tantrum is inescapably hilarious.

Last edited 2 years ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Julian Rigg
Julian Rigg
2 years ago

In this type of situation it is wise to look at your own individual experiences with the protagonists. I was lucky to travel extensively on business for many years. So here is my list of the most trust worthy countries and least trustworthy countries I conducted business in;
Most trust worthy: USA, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.
Least Trust worthy: France
France was a nightmare and to this day I will only use its air space on a flight to somewhere else.
The USA was great to do business in. Treat them with respect, do what you say, and they treat you the same.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Rigg

Interesting. Wonder how you found Italy?

Julian Rigg
Julian Rigg
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Gourley

I did ponder this while writing my comment. To me Italy was two countries. North of the Po River was decent and generally reliable while south of the Po not so. You knew there would be an element of corruption and the Italians I dealt with never hid the fact.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Rigg

Your ‘Most Trustworthy’ will flip whenever it suits them.

Jan Fonfara
Jan Fonfara
2 years ago

It is clear for over a year that the Australians want to switch to a nuclear sub. On the surface the nuclear version of the french sub could have been considered but not when looking at the details. The french reactor requires refuelling after 8 years or so thus requiring a nuclear industry in Australia which is a political no no in Australia. The US/UK one is a closed one and doesn’t require refuelling for 30 years thus not requiring a nuclear industry in Australia.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago

I found all of this article plausible except for “The secrecy of the talks — the failure to involve France in some way — does suggest that the US approach was a deliberate hit on Paris and Macron”.
Why would the U.S involve itself so directly in French politics; who else would they prefer as the French president? What benefit would match the risk of the harm such a decision to deliberately humiliate the French would entail? I can understand the secrecy as a discreet measure while the U.S. ‘persuades’ Australia to change it’s mind – there was probably a bit of a process there, but it would be unseemly (and counter-productive in Australia) to see the process at work. The Europeans should have known that when Obama announced ‘a pivot’ to Asia, it implied a downgrading of the importance of Europe to the U.S.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago

Obama also announced that the UK would be the last in the queue if we went ahead with Brexit. A clear signal of intention?

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

Yes. They won’t bother with a Free Trade Agreement with UK

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

If Trump returns in 2024, he will. Remember, he said UK would be first in the queue, countering Obama.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago

If you want to keep a secret you don’t tell the French. We learnt that during WW2.

gavin.thomas
gavin.thomas
2 years ago

It is sad to see Western powers squabbling but of those involved, France has proved itself to be the least trustworthy.
France pulled out of NATO in 1966 and only fully rejoined in 2009 on the proviso that it had unilateral control over the deployment of its troops and weapons. Whilst the French have contributed to NATO action in Kosovo, Afghanistan and other theatres, They cannot be trusted to support large scale NATO action – if it ever happened.
Their weaponry assistance to Argentina during the Falklands conflict (where an overseas territory of a NATO power was invaded) puts ‘in doubt’ Franco-NATO loyalty.
If the French were privy to U.S. and U.K. nuclear submarine technology, they would not hesitate to share this with Russia or China if they could see an advantage for themselves.

Friedrich Tellberg
Friedrich Tellberg
2 years ago

Thank you for another well informed and broad looking article on France. It is very helpful in spite of, or rather thanks to, the uncertainties hinted at.
We are all looking at Taiwan. But continental Europeans should also watch the Baltic countries and the West Balkan and see if the US shows any credible signs of interest. I do not suppose so. The US is not going to contain China and Russia at the same time. And if the US fails to make clear that Europe will have to do more for its own defence, well, then maybe a Russian hostile act will help the Europeans to return to reality.

Earl King
Earl King
2 years ago

NATO is in trouble for many reasons. I for one doubt that Germany would go to war over Estonia or North Macedonia. Spill German blood? Nah. I’m not convinced we would as well. When Trump asked this question and I paraphrase. Nato was a military, political and economic counterbalance to the Soviet Union and now Russia. How in the hell can Germany but natural gas from Russia and still have a policy of combating Russian hegemony if it winter heat is threatened? It makes no sense. Like the UN which is another broken institution there is nothing to replace it or NATO. We’re stuck with it and with French illusions of grandeur.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago

Macron needs to end his petulance, grow up, and learn to be a good neighbour if he wants to sit with the big boys.

Fermented Agave
Fermented Agave
2 years ago

Had to double check that I hadn’t been redirected to The Atlantic or NYTimes. It was a really nice assessment of “hurt feelings” and “political implications” just coincidentally aligning with China’s “erode the west” narratives. Is Lichfield a “consultant” for the CCP ministry of propaganda? Or perhaps just angling for lead position at the dim sum table?
Meanwhile Australia tightens with its 5 Eyes partners (no mention) to enable operational capabilities to face the existential threat from their next door bully that also just happens to be installing 400 ICBM silos and encroaching on every international boundary on the planet.
Shame on Lichfield and the UnHerd editors for putting this forward.
UnHerd Editors – How about you bundle all the comments and forward to someone that can write an informative article for your paid readers? Just a whacky thought…

Last edited 2 years ago by Fermented Agave
Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago

Go back to West Virginia. Its is not spelled it’s.

Fermented Agave
Fermented Agave
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Thanks and great to hear from you. Typo corrected. You’re English is quite proficient.

Last edited 2 years ago by Fermented Agave
Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Try Twitter. We come here to escape it.

Mike K
Mike K
2 years ago

At least give France the submarine catering contract. They’re not bad at that sort of thing, or at least they used to be.

Simon White
Simon White
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike K

An opportunity for a French-American alliance perhaps?
Le Subway 😉

Last edited 2 years ago by Simon White
Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago

President Joe Biden’s government lied?
Is that news?

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago

Mucho jingoism in this thread me thinks.

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
2 years ago

America is back indeed

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Maccione

But who in America is back? Biden is clearly not managing affairs.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

American Think Tanks, whose noses were considerably put out of joint by the last administration. https://www.mulroneyinstitute.ca/mulroney/sites/mulroney/files/2020-10/Abelson,%20Uphill%20Battle%20(Mulroney%20Papers%201).pdf

Christopher Elletson
Christopher Elletson
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

paper taken down by the looks of it

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

I think it’s a formatting bug. It works if you copy the whole URL including the .pdf bit and paste it.

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago

The exclusion of Canada and New Zealand, both members of Five Eyes, is also very telling.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Not really, given their current governments. In addition, New Zealand is much smaller. As for Canada, the day might come when it too concludes that nuclear-powered attack submarines are a necessity, given their enormous coastal area, some of which is often covered in ice, but it should learn form this; the lead times can be measured in decades.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

If the West are going to engage in petty and small minded squabbles like cats in a sack, China will be laughing.

Sarah H
Sarah H
2 years ago

Thankyou, Unherd. Another insightful piece illuminating a topic where it is hard to see the light for the heat.

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago

This whole submarine deal was handled poorly. The French are capable of building
modern nuclear submarines. At least the whole problem of modernizing Australia’s submarine fleet should have been approached with the UK, France, Australia, and the US discussing how best to handle
the problem. The contract could have been divided up in an intelligent way, with a standard design being produced by ship-yards in both France and the US. What worries me the most is that now the actual Australian acquisition of modern nuclear submarines has been delayed even further. And Cairman Xi grows ever bolder as he perceives US weakness and the Allies’ acrimonious divisions.

Fermented Agave
Fermented Agave
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Cox

You’re hitting on the operational aspects, which is critical for maintaining a fleet of high tech boats.
I suspect Australia finds it much more critical to interoperate with and co-supply with US than France.
At current trajectory, Australian would likely need these boats before 2030.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Cox

I think you mean that it was poorly handled y USA and Australia, because in our press, the handling of it by the French has not been mentioned. The French are capable of building nuclear submarines, but they are not as technically good as the US/UK ones, so they were probably ruled out immediately, and if so, why involve the French in such a sensitive matter? If they had been involved early, what would they have done? I think they would have done their utmost to influence subsequent events in their exclusive interest, including leaking anything useful. Trust is based on experience, not wishful thinking.
The actual acquisition of nuclear submarines wasn’t delayed at all by this decision, but might have been quicker if the original contract had been discussed with the USA and UK and included the possibility of nuclear. What is more, the French at the time had no desire to share construction with Japanese or Swedish, and even proved reluctant to allow Australia to be involved in construction, despite that understanding when negotiating the contract. I recommend that you read up on the public history of the contract, which includes several mentions of cancellation.
As for the ‘joint statement’ of last month, I’ll bet it was drafted by the French side in an effort to keep the Australians to the deal, because I cannot believe that French intelligence don’t monitor domestic Australian news.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
pdrodolf
pdrodolf
2 years ago

I’m beginning to get the sense that we are all being played……..I can only imagine the gleeful response to this latest spat between western allies in the halls of power in Russia and China.

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago

.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago

Kevin Rudd (former PM of Australia and China guru at the Asia Society in New York) agrees with me. Australia’a action in spectacularly snubbing France over the submarine deal was profoundly stupid and short-sighted. The comments below in this thread just betray the narrow, nationalistic, foolish jingoism of the average Brit – even the so-called intelligent ones.
See for yourselves
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/22/paris-has-a-long-memory-scott-morrisons-cavalier-treatment-of-france-will-hurt-australia

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Everything Kevin Rudd says or writes is filtered through the guy’s o’erweening personal sense of genius and his anger that he is often regarded as one of Australia’s worst Prime Ministers in recent times (which, if you follow Australian politics, is a pretty damning comment).

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Rudd’s agreement with you could be called opportunism. Why do some think France will be so emotional that it will damage its own strategic interests? Anyone who reads up on the history of the French submarine contract will conclude that although the changing situation with China was certainly a driver of a change in policy, conduct of the French side was a major factor. France should remember that however much Australia values its bonds with France, those with the USA and Britain are even longer and deeper.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

The AUKUS pact is paving the way for the UK to be involved in the most shameful fashion as World War III looms in our future. This resource war will be triggered by the ecological collapse that we have engineered with our decades of economic growth without any thought to limitations of our planet.  The Das Gupta Review about Bio-diversity which was published by the UK Treasury earlier this year, has clearly failed to raise awareness within the government of the dangers ahead.  The review represented a high point in applying concepts of capital and wealth accumulation comprehensively to all aspects of human and non-human existence. Therefore it was always doomed to fail as a solution. It is precisely the fallacy that our wealth will protect us which is spurring us on to continue with the collective suicide which results from our coercive consumer culture.

Our Declaration of Human Rights was fatally flawed, in that it fails to recognise the limitations of the environment on our planet.  We need rapid and voluntary Degrowth. For the Degrowth mind-set we need to forget about making a profit, and recognise that our capital will be worthless when we can no longer grow food. Worthy leadership at COP26 will require humility. We have gone very wrong in the past and there is no sign of us altering our harmful trajectory. The Wikipedia article about ecological overshoot references several research papers which warn us that ecological collapse is now underway and escalating; they state that, unless we embrace Degrowth, we shall soon see collapse with regard to our finances, our civilisation and our population. 

For the UK to lead the world at COP26 we shall need the humility to apologise for leading the world in the tragedy of unsustainable growth economics. We have plundered the world of natural resources ensuring a cascade of escalating crises for the next generations.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago

I suppose the Australian Government, once they had decided to change the submarine specification agreed on in 2016, decided that involving the French would make the negotiation too complicated. It was just cleaner to start all over again with the US (with UK as poodle).
I think this is a major strategic mistake by Washington, and by the foreign Office and Cabinet Office in London. France is the nth largest global economy, with important Pacific and Far East assets and influence (as the article says), and is a member of the UN Security Council. France is a key pillar of the Western alliance. Trust is more important than submarines. This deal is causing fundamental re-evaluation of French strategy, and may produce a significant realignment of French strategy and policy. If so, the Americans can only blame themselves. They have shown themselves, once again, to be untrustworthy. Short-term advantage trumps loyalty, longer-term strategic interest, and all else. Not a clever move, and one that America and the poodle Britain will come to regard as a serious mistake.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

The French have played hokey kokey with several commitments over the years. They were in NATO, then they weren’t, then they were again, then they decided to stay but undermine it. They were involved in the Eurofighter, then they weren’t. France has cared only about France.

The fact that others play the same game, seems to come as a surprise to them and they get all huffy.

With regards Australia deciding to throw in its lot with the USA, rather than France, with the size and military capability of China who would you choose?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

It should not need to be a choice. China’s strategic coherence and patience increasingly shows it can pick off adversaries while the West bickers about their rivalries and relatively small comparative issues.
China will win, I fear.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

I regard 31 minus points for my comment as highly distinguished, and a certain mark of its relevance and correctness.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

yes – at this rate you will be up there with Sanford ! Important role …

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Hurray ! Up to minus 46 ! I must be doing something right.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

You were at 55 minus points, but unfortunately I thought your comment was perceptive and on the right track, so I felt impelled to give you an uptick and reduce your score to 54. Sorry!
Disclosure: I too hold something of a red ink record on certain topics, and am zealously guarding the distinction.