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Joe Biden angers France, EU with new Australia, UK initiative

Image source: AP.

Joe Biden comments on the economy in the East Room of the White House.

France and the European Union are angered by President Joe Biden’s decision to form a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with Australia and Britain to counter China. They feel left out and see this as a return to the Trump era.

The security initiative, unveiled this week, appears to have abruptly ended the heat of Biden’s love for Europe. AUKUS, which specifically excludes France and the European Union, is the latest in a series of attacks from Afghanistan to East Asia that have shocked Europe.

After promising European leaders that “America is back” and that multilateral diplomacy would guide US foreign policy, Biden has alienated many allies with a stand-alone approach on key issues. France’s foreign minister expressed “total understanding” over the recent move, which he called a “stab in the back”, and the EU foreign policy chief complained that Europe had not been consulted.

Under the terms of the initiative, France would lose a deal worth nearly $100 billion to build diesel submarines for Australia, with the US and UK helping make Canberra nuclear-powered.

Thus, French anger on a purely commercial level is understandable, especially because France, since the handing over of Hong Kong by Britain to China in 1997, is the only European nation to have significant territorial assets or assets in the Pacific. Permanent military presence.

But French and EU officials further said, the agreement calls into question the entire cooperative effort to blunt China’s growing influence and underscores the importance of Europe’s sluggish plans to boost its defense and security capabilities.

Some have compared Biden’s recent actions under Trump’s “America First” principle to that of his predecessor, Donald Trump. That’s astonishing for a president steeped in international affairs, who ran for the White House to mend broken ties with allies and restore American credibility on the world stage.

While it is impossible to predict whether any of the damage will be permanent, the short-term effect has rekindled European suspicions of US intentions—mainly in line with Biden’s broader aim to unite democracies against authoritarianism centered on China and Russia. with possible implications.

Just three months ago, on his first visit to the continent as president, Biden was hailed as a hero by European counterparts eager to move on from the trans-Atlantic tensions of the Trump years. But for many, this apparent sense of relief has now faded, and one of its clear winners, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is walking out.

Since June, Biden has angered America’s oldest ally, France, left Poland and Ukraine questioning US commitment to their security and more unilateral decisions from Afghanistan to East Asia to the EU. widely disturbed. And, while Europe rejoiced when Biden promised to return to nuclear talks with Iran and revive Israel-Palestinian peace talks, both efforts stalled for nine months in his administration.

The seeds of discontent may have been sown in the spring, but they began to blossom in July upon Biden’s approval for a Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline that would bypass Poland and Ukraine, and a month later in August from Afghanistan. With the American withdrawal which Europe scrambled to maintain after expressing objections about the retreat.

Then this week, Biden angered France and the European Union with his announcement that the US would join Britain and Australia after Brexit in a new Indo-Pacific security initiative aimed at countering China’s growing aggression in the region. .

Unsurprisingly, China reacted angrily, accusing the US and its English-speaking partners of launching a project that would destabilize the Pacific for global security. But, the reactions in Paris and Brussels were equally dire. Both complained that they were not only left out of the deal but also not consulted.

The White House and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said France had been informed of the decision before it was announced on Wednesday, although it was not clear when. Blinken said on Thursday there had been talks with the French about this within the past 24 to 48 hours, suggesting that there had not been a thorough consultation.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who in June praised “excellent news for all of us that America is back”, expressed “absolute understanding” of the initiative’s announcement. “It was really a stab in the back,” he said. “Looks like what Trump did.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the comparison. “I would say the president doesn’t think much about it,” she told reporters. “The President’s focus is on maintaining and continuing our close relations with France, the United Kingdom, Australia and with leaders in France to achieve our global objectives, which include security in the Indo-Pacific.”

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell echoed the French minister’s complaints. “I think an agreement of this nature was not made the day before yesterday. It takes a certain amount of time, and despite that, no, we were not consulted,” he said. “It obliges us, Once again … to reflect on the need to keep European strategic autonomy high on the agenda.”

Indeed, the 27-member European Union on Thursday unveiled a new strategy to boost economic, political and defense ties in the Indo-Pacific, just hours after the US, UK and Australia announced that they would be able to bolster economic, political and defense ties in the Indo-Pacific. The EU said the aim is to strengthen and expand economic ties while strengthening respect for international trade rules and improving maritime security. It said it expected the strategy to result in more European naval deployments in the region.

US officials on Thursday dismissed complaints from the French and the European Union.

“There are many partnerships that involve the French and some partnerships that are not, and they have partnerships with other countries that don’t involve us,” Saki said. “It’s part of how global diplomacy works.”

Speaking with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Australian defense and foreign ministers, Blinken said there is “no territorial division” with Europe over the Indo-Pacific strategy. Describing France as an “important partner”, he said, “We welcome European countries that play an important role in the Indo-Pacific.”

But how closely they will work together remains to be seen.

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