By opting for a direct crisis with the United States after losing the giant submarine contract, France, which had few options at its disposal and European allies who were in no hurry to support it, took a risk.
To express its outrage, Paris recalled its ambassador to the United States, in an unprecedented act towards this historical ally, as well as towards Australia, the country of origin of the crisis.
Because far from his early promises, US President Joe Biden has shaken up his European partners, from the unilateral announcement of withdrawal from Afghanistan to the prolonged closure of the US border to Europeans due to the coronavirus – 19 House – Blanche returned Monday morning.
Bertrand Badie, professor of international relations at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris, warns that “when you get into a crisis of this kind, you have to know which door you can get out of.”
“They will have to return to their positions, especially the ambassador in Washington,” he explains. However, today we do not see what kind of event could allow this return without giving France the impression of capitulating or losing face. “
Paris is not angry with the United States and Australia, which, by declaring on Wednesday a strategic alliance with the United Kingdom to counter China’s influence, at the same time torpedoed a contract to sell French submarines to the Australian Navy for a sum. 56 billion euros.
If President Emmanuel Macron has been silent since then, his foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, fired red bullets at the three perpetrators in very few diplomatic terms. “lying”, “duplication”, “contempt”, “crisis of trust”: the estrangement is over.
In the face of this transatlantic escalation, European leaders remain very absent for the time being. In Berlin, the government “noted” the situation. In Brussels, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, “is closely monitoring the situation.”
” a hit “
France, finding itself alone at the front of the stage, hopes to reverse the trend at a meeting of European foreign ministers Monday night in New York, on the eve of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. With the German legislative elections on September 26, she also knows that she will not be able to count on Berlin for the foreseeable future.
“It’s a big blow for France. There is no way out of the top,” considers Celia Beilin, a specialist in transatlantic relations at the Brookings Institution. “We must demand that things end in a legal and proper manner with the Australians,” she said in the chaos.
The escalation with the United States could have an impact on many issues, apart from trying to quickly capture the details. “They can be formal and symbolic gestures, and a meeting, and very kind words, which are very satisfying for French diplomacy,” said Judge Bertrand Badi.
It is a severe blow to France. There is no exit at the top.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to appease him by recalling his country’s unwavering “love” for France.
Less accurately, Australia felt it did not have to “prove its connection to France” after its soldiers were sacrificed on its side during the two world wars. However, he will not have the opportunity to say it face to face with Emmanuel Macron, who stopped by the United Nations General Assembly, where he will be replaced by his foreign minister.
Anger is a bad advisor?
But Joe Biden will have to explain himself to him over the phone in the “next few days,” according to Paris. At this point, a bilateral meeting is not scheduled in New York between the French foreign minister, his American counterparts Anthony Blinken and Britain’s Liz Truss.
A meeting of the French and British defense ministers, which had been scheduled for this week, was also canceled, at the request of Paris. We have the right to be angry […]. But the danger for France is that anger is driving it,” notes François Heisbourg, of the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris.
“After such disdain, it is very important for the French to focus on Europe and ensure European solidarity,” says Celia Belen. For his part, Bertrand Badi notes, “But Europe has never been so divided over its foreign policy choices” and about its relationship with Washington.
For Eastern Europe, salvation from Russia can only come through the United States. Germany is also still keen to spare the American ally. These positions run counter to Europe’s strategic autonomy demanded by President Macron, whose country will take over the EU presidency in the first half of 2022.
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