French leaders who were giddy in November after President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump bared their teeth Thursday after losing a multibillion-dollar submarine deal with Australia.
Earlier this week, a planned $40 billion deal with France was torpedoed after the United States, Britain and Australia announced a deal that would provide Australia with American nuclear-powered submarines, according to Reuters.
The France-Australia deal had first been agreed to in 2016, and was reconfirmed just weeks ago. Its demise led French officials to dish the ultimate insult by comparing Biden to the predecessor he loathes.
“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said. “I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies.”
“It’s a stab in the back. We created a relationship of trust with Australia and that trust has been broken,” Le Drian said.
The deal is more than just dollars, but is expected to complicate relations between Biden — who came into office promising to court Europe — and the European Union.
“This is a clap of thunder and for many in Paris a Trafalgar moment,” tweeted Bruno Tertrais, deputy director of the Paris-based think tank the Foundation of Strategic Research. The 1805 battle of Trafalgar was a major English victory over a French fleet.
The deal will “complicate the transatlantic cooperation in and about the region. Beijing will benefit,” he said.
What is striking is that the Biden administration didn’t do anything to cushion the blow it was deliberately delivering to France. No consultation, no association, no compensation.
— Gérard Araud (@GerardAraud) September 16, 2021
The world is a jungle. France has just been reminded this bitter truth by the way the US and the UK have stabbed her in the back in Australia. C’est la vie.
— Gérard Araud (@GerardAraud) September 15, 2021
A statement issued by Le Drian and Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said the decision “is contrary to the letter and spirit of the cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of political trust as well as on the development of a very high-level defense industrial and technological base in Australia,” according to Fox News.
“The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, whether in terms of our values or in terms of respect for multilateralism based on the rule of law, shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret,” the statement said.
The statement said the “regrettable decision” bolsters “the need to make the issue of European strategic autonomy loud and clear. There is no other credible way to defend our interests and our values in the world, including in the Indo-Pacific.”
Parly called the action “very bad news with regards to keeping one’s word,” adding that France is “clear-eyed as to how the United States treats its allies,” according to The Guardian.
“In terms of geopolitics and international relations, it’s serious,” she said.
French politician Marine Le Pen called the end of the deal between France and Australia “a political disaster,” “a public humiliation” and a “very serious attack on its image as an industrial power.”
According to the Daily Mail, the doorway to the U.S. deal was opened when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had concerns about the French company’s deadline and price disputes, and feared that the new submarines would not arrive until 2030.
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