The White House has tried to spread backlash over its decision to exclude European Union partners from a new Indo-Pacific security pact.
The “AUKUS” security association will see the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia strengthen their intelligence and military cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in an attempt to counter China’s growing assertiveness.
The main component of the pact is Canberra’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines built by the United States and the United Kingdom. Australia already had a contract with France for 12 diesel-powered submarines.
Paris has reacted angrily to the pact with Chancellor Jean-Yves Le Drian described it as a “stab in the back” and comparing US President Joe Biden to his predecessor, Donald Trump, for the “unilateral, brutal and unpredictable decision.”
France may lose some € 56 billion due to the new initiative, but it is also the only European nation that has significant territorial possessions or a permanent military presence in the Pacific.
The White House and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said France had been informed of the decision before it was announced Wednesday, although it was not exactly clear when. Blinken said Thursday that there were conversations with the French about it in the last 24 to 48 hours, suggesting there was no in-depth consultation.
The reaction from Brussels was also severe: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters on Thursday: “I suppose an agreement of this nature was not discussed the day before yesterday. It takes a certain amount of time, and despite of that, no, we were not consulted “.
“That forces us, once again … to reflect on the need to put European strategic autonomy high on the agenda,” he added.
Although it is impossible to predict whether any damage will be lasting, the short-term shock appears to have rekindled European suspicions about American intentions, with possible implications for Biden’s broader goal of uniting democracies against authoritarianism, focused primarily on China and Russia.
As it happened, the AUKUS partnership was announced hours before Borrell was scheduled to outline the 27-nation bloc’s strategy to boost economic, political and defense ties in the Indo-Pacific. The EU said the goal is to strengthen and expand economic relations while strengthening respect for international trade rules and improving maritime safety. He said he hopes the strategy will result in more European naval deployments in the region.
US officials put aside the complaints from France and the EU on Thursday.
“There are a variety of associations that include the French and some associations that do not, and they have associations with other countries that do not include us,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “That is part of how global diplomacy works.”
Speaking alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Australia’s defense and foreign ministers, Blinken said there is “no regional divide” with Europe on Indo-Pacific strategy. “We welcome European countries that play an important role in the Indo-Pacific,” he said, calling France a “vital partner.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism