Washington President Joe Biden’s decision to form an Indo-Pacific strategic alliance with Australia and the United Kingdom to counter China’s wrath in France and the European Union. They feel neglected and see it as a return to the Trump era.
security initiative, revealed this weekBiden’s summer of love for Europe seems to have ended abruptly. The American University in Cairo, which excludes France and the European Union in particular, is the latest in a series of moves from Afghanistan to East Asia that have stunned Europe.
After Biden promised European leaders that “America will come back” and that multilateral diplomacy would guide US foreign policy, Biden isolated many of his allies by addressing major issues himself. The French foreign minister expressed a “complete misunderstanding” of the latest move, which he described as a “stab in the back”, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief complained about not consulting Europe.
France is losing nearly $100 billion in a contract to build diesel-powered submarines for Australia as part of the initiative US and UK help Canberra build nuclear power plants.
In this regard, France’s anger would be understandable on a purely commercial level, especially since France has been the only European country to have had significant territorial possessions or a permanent military presence in the Pacific since the surrender of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
However, French and European officials have gone further, saying the deal challenges any joint efforts to weaken China’s growing influence and stresses the importance of wasting plans to bolster Europe’s defense and security capabilities.
Some compare Biden’s recent actions to those of his predecessor, Donald Trump, under the Trump America First doctrine. This comes as a surprise to the head of international affairs who ran for the White House and pledged to mend broken ties with allies and restore US credibility on the world stage.
While it is impossible to predict whether the damage will be permanent, the short-term effects appear to have stoked European skepticism about American intentions — with potential implications for Biden’s broader goal of uniting democracy against authoritarianism, which is primarily focused on China and Russia.
Just three months ago, during his first visit to the continent as president, Biden was hailed as a hero by his European counterparts eager to overcome transatlantic tensions in the Trump years. But that remarkable relief has evaporated for many, and the only clear winner, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is on track.
Since June, Biden has infuriated America’s biggest ally, France, by leaving Poland and Ukraine, questioning the United States’ commitment to their security and angering the European Union in general with unilateral decisions from Afghanistan to East Asia in general. And while Europe rejoiced when Biden promised to return to nuclear negotiations with Iran and resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, both aides stalled nine months into his tenure.
The seeds of discontent may have been sown in the spring, but they began blooming in July when Biden took care of one Gas pipeline from Russia to Germany which would bypass Poland and Ukraine, and, a month later, in August, with the chaotic withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, which forced Europe to keep pace with objections to that withdrawal.
It wasn’t until this week that Biden angered France and the European Union by announcing that the United States would join Britain and Australia in a new security initiative in the Indo-Pacific region and Brexit to counter China’s growing aggressiveness in the region.
No wonder China reacted angrily, accusing the United States and its English-speaking partners of initiating a project that would destabilize the Pacific at the expense of global security. But the reactions of Paris and Brussels were just as violent. Both complained that not only were they excluded from the contract, but that they were not consulted on the matter either.
The White House and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said France had been informed of the decision before Wednesday’s announcement, though it was not clear exactly when. Blinken said Thursday that there have been talks with the French on the subject in the past 24 to 48 hours, indicating a lack of detailed advice.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who in June hailed the “good news for us all that America is back,” expressed a “total misunderstanding” by announcing the initiative. “It was really a stab in the back,” he said. “It looks very much like what Trump did.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined the settlement. “I would say the president doesn’t think much of it,” she told reporters. “The President is focused on developing and sustaining our close relationship with senior politicians in France, the United Kingdom and Australia and achieving our global goals that include security in the Indo-Pacific.”
In Brussels, the EU representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, reiterated the French minister’s complaints. I suspect that no such agreement was reached the day before yesterday. He said it was taking some time and yet we were not consulted. “This forces us to … rethink the need to put European strategic autonomy high on the agenda.”
In fact, the 27-nation European Union did just that on Thursday Introduce a new strategy To strengthen economic, political and defense ties in the Indo-Pacific region, just hours after the United States, United Kingdom and Australia announced. The EU stated that the aim is to strengthen and develop economic relations while improving compliance with international trade rules and maritime safety. He hopes the strategy will lead to more European naval operations in the region.
On Thursday, US officials dismissed French and European complaints.
“There are many partnerships that include the French and some that don’t include us, and they have partnerships with other countries that don’t include us,” Psaki said. “It’s part of how global diplomacy works.”
Speaking to Defense Minister Lloyd Austin and the Australian defense and foreign ministers, Blinken said there was “no regional divide” with Europe over the Indo-Pacific strategy. “We welcome the European countries that play an important role in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said, describing France as an “important partner.”
However, it remains to be seen how closely they work together.
Authors AP Darlene Superville and Sylvie Corbett in Paris and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.
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