Is France shunning its deceptive Western allies?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 00:00 |
US President Joe Biden. Photo/AFP

Not many people would have predicted the immediate ramifications of America’s impunity, given its bravado during the launch of the Australia, United Kingdom, United States (AUKUS) alliance on September 15.

It looked like a closed and shut case in which America’s allies would play along and welcome the umbrella “protection” it offered, ostensibly from a rising China.

It was rather shocking for France to recall both its US and Australia ambassadors in reaction to Australia’s cancellation of the 2016 Australia dollars 90 billion ($48 billion) contract with the French company Naval Group for a fleet of 12 ultra-modern submarines. 

Australia threw France under the bus following the AUKUS initiative, that will now see it order the nuclear-powered submarines from the US and the UK. Just like that, without prior warning or courtesy! 

Conversely, AUKUS could have been a convenient excuse for Australia’s abrupt decision, which France has termed as a “great disappointment”, given that the submarine deal has been inordinately delayed by cost excesses, arbitrary changes in design among other logistical reasons since the deal was mooted in 2016. 

May be Australia felt they could have got a better deal elsewhere. But France feels slighted and betrayed by an ally, and could be wondering what else Canberra can do at the behest of more powerful forces.

It sends bad vibes to America’s allies everywhere, who will start putting more scrutiny to US policies both at bilateral and multilateral levels.

It will also create tension in mutual groups like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation where France, the UK and US are members.

France will definitely not be amiable to initiatives led by the two partners who have betrayed it with callousness, potentially weakening the alliance.

The incident also reflects negatively on the UK and shows the unholy alliance the European country has with America. Tension is also expected in the European Union.

That the AUKUS tripartite negotiated the submarine deal for months, without letting off a whiff to France is the epitome of backstabbing.

It also re-awakens bad memories of the historical Anglo-French wars and reopens wounds that had long healed.   

It is France’s final response on this matter that might be more radical than the ambassador recall. Some analysts, for example, see a possibility of  a“betrayed” France shunning its deceptive Western allies and leaning towards countries like China; that walk the talk in their philosophies and ideals.

If this happens, it would be the last straw that breaks America’s geopolitical dominance. China has definitely been vindicated against US accusations.

China’s possible admission to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) would be an extra boost to its multilateral credentials, which would actually boomerang on America’s aim of isolating the economic giant. 

The pact was conceived in 2016 as the Trans-Pacific Partnership to counter China’s economic might, but rebranded after the futility of this objective became apparent in an ever changing world.

Like many other groupings that the US withdrew from under former President Donald Trump, the US revoked membership of CPTPP for being inimical to his unpopular “America First” mantra.

Although China’s Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a press conference on Friday that the application to join CPTPP was “completely unrelated” to AUKUS, CPTPP membership, if approved, would have great trade and diplomatic spin-offs.  

The US has usually got away scot free from its double-dealing ways for long due to its unbridled power.

The country has also used its perfected skills of using veiled manipulation and intimidation.

But the US now lies exposed and it is simply a matter of time before a backlash like the one currently witnessed by France goes global.  — The writer comments on      international affairs

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