UKUS partners must catch up to restore relations with France – .

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UKUS partners must catch up to restore relations with France – .


Prime Minister Scott Morrison is embroiled in a feud with French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden which, given power asymmetries, risks leaving Australia exposed and vulnerable in a league of great powers above his level of remuneration. In Africa and Asia there are variations of the folklore that the grass is trampled both when elephants fight and when they mate. In the Melian Dialogue of the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, Melos is severely warned by Athens that questions of law and justice apply only to relations between equals in power. For others, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.

Canceling a deal that should never have been signed in the first place was the right move. Reverse engineering an advanced nuclear-powered submarine into a technologically inferior version with less range, endurance at sea, stealth and overall lethality, requiring workers and facilities based in Australia, has increased the cost and lengthened the lead time. Morrison rescinded the baffling call to build the Attack-class submarine, aligned the most important defense acquisition with Australia’s rapidly altered strategic circumstances, and returned to the heartwarming embrace of proven allies and confidence.

The insanity of national security therefore does not lie in the cancellation of a sub-optimal submarine contract, but in the legal vacuum of any existing contract and the operational vacuum of any new submarine for another two decades. The diplomatic folly lay in shifting the full burden of the cost and embarrassment of the initial error from Australia to France, thus destroying a centerpiece of French engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. This can only weaken the collective unity and the cohesion of the democratic alliance in the face of the multifaceted challenge posed by China.

This is the test of diplomacy that the allies of AUKUS have failed and they must catch up to repair the damage. An improved Royal Australian Navy may better rebuild Western military might in the Indo-Pacific, but the European Union can contribute much more to global finance, trade, infrastructure, health, artificial intelligence and human resources. green technologies in a reconfigured and rules-based liberal international order whose circuits of control lie mainly in Western capitals. France’s critical importance to the US and UK means Australia could become the sacrificial lamb in efforts to appease Macron.

Paul Kelly’s front page analysis in the print version of the australian November 3 was titled “Of course Macron was misled, our prime minister had no choice”. Kelly formulates his argument in terms of two “unpleasant” and irreconcilable “realities”: “Macron has been misled; and Morrison had every reason not to inform him. However, in his masterful account of the outbreak of World War I, The war that ended peace, Canadian historian Margaret Macmillan concluded with the conclusion: “There are always choices.” While former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s statement that Morrison has a “reputation for lying” is a reflection on the unfulfilled bitterness of Turnbull, the measured criticisms of former Foreign Secretary Julie Bishop of the former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Varghese and former Deputy Secretary John McCarthy is sharper. As foreign policy decisions are “more than usual formulated through the prism of domestic policy” (Varghese), critical relations risk being seriously damaged. Australia’s reputation for reliability and reliability has taken a hit in Europe beyond France.

Cameron Stewart, the australianThe former UKUS correspondent in Washington analyzed a confidential 15-page account of discussions among key AUKUS negotiators, accurately describing the sequence of events that would herald the New Deal to the world. France was to be informed on the same day, i.e. September 16, that the existing $ 90 billion Attack-class deal was scuttled in favor of nuclear submarines from the UK or the states. -United. Officials anticipated French surprise and anger, but AUKUS allies misjudged the depth of resentment towards Macron personally and France nationally. When asked on October 31 if he thought Morrison had lied, Macron replied, “I don’t think so, I know. “

France means a lot more to the United States than Australia. Hence Biden’s creeping remarks to Macron at the G20 summit in Rome. “We have no older or more loyal ally, no more decent than France,” Biden assured Macron while apologizing for rude and clumsy handling of the problem and saying he thought Paris had been kept informed by Canberra.

It is possible but unlikely that Biden was not kept fully informed, or that he simply forgot to be made aware of the need for secrecy to secure the deal. The most likely explanation is a cold calculation that France is genuinely offended. Although France is not dependent on the United States, it is an essential partner and a pillar of American engagement with and in Europe. Australia will have little choice but to swallow and accept Washington’s logic.

Great powers like the United States, China and France pursue imperial foreign policies, not ethical ones. Australia is targeted by Xi Jinping, mocked by Macron and thrown under the bus by Biden.

The Australians’ repeated reminders of the soldiers who gave their lives to liberate France are frankly tiresome. Australia did not join World War I to liberate France but to fight alongside Britain, just as the United States did not enter World War II to save Australia, but because that it was attacked by Japan. Lord Palmerston said that nations have no enemies or permanent allies, only permanent interests. This is both the justification for Australia’s turn on nuclear submarines and the American attempts to appease France. Australia needs maturity to understand that this is the way the world works and to get around realpolitik instead of shying away from it.

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