Why is France so upset?
Those pointing to the commercial deal are missing the point.
The view in Paris is the US shaped an alliance in secret with two partners, undercutting France’s entire Indo-Pacific strategy in the last decade.
Why France was not brought in is inexplicable.
At a time when the administration insists on its objective to bring along Europeans to confront China, France is #1 Indo-Pacific EU actor, conducts freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea.
The deal with Australia was symbolic of this policy, in which a large part of the French political and strategic establishment was engaged.
Incidentally, these are often the most Atlanticists in the French defense sector. And indeed, that deal involved US companies.
Just last month, France joined the US, UK, Japan, Australia and New Zealand for common exercises in the South China Sea.
I believe this was have long term consequences – on budget priorities, procurements, France’s relations with allies, NATO.
And this comes after years of close cooperation with the US on counter-terrorism, in the Sahel, against ISIS.
As for some of arguments on the deal: France has nuclear propelled subs, Australia requested diesel (which can be converted into SSN).
Let’s see when US/UK can deliver.
As for US security guarantee on Australia, wasn’t it already the case?
The US missed the political and strategic dimensions of this case in Paris.
It’s personal for so many involved on this issue.
They also seemed to believe Australia had clearly communicated its discontent with the partnership, which doesn’t seem to be the case.
Timing matters too. Many European diplomats (Paris less than others) have also complained in recent weeks of the lack of proper consultations over the Afghan withdrawal in the weeks leading to Kabul’s fall.
Benjamin Haddad is the Director of the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center.