Stab in the Back
France Left Out of New Military Alliance
A new military alliance between the US, UK and Australia was announced last night, a thinly veiled counter move to an increasingly more assertive China in the Indo-Pacific region. Under the acronym Aukus, the three countries plan to intensify their collaboration on key technologies like artificial intelligence, cyber, quantum, underwater systems, and long-range strike capabilities. Over the next 18 months they will also consider the possible transfer of sensitive technology to Australia to run nuclear powered submarines.
This new Aukus deal will be a blow for France. Australia will abandon a $90bn submarine deal with the French Naval Group to acquire American nuclear-powered submarines instead. The French deal, signed in 2016, was in trouble for some time over cost implosion and delays. The blame is not on the French side alone, Australia's industrial strategy had its share in this debacle too, as explained by the Sydney Morning Herald. Australia only had six submarines and was to get 12 traditional submarines under the French contract. Now they go all nuclear with US submarines to ramp up their presence in the Indo-Pacific.
The US has shared intelligence only with the UK so far. To bring in Australia is a big step that is yet to make its way through Congress. A sale of submarines will take years, but until then the US nuclear submarines could make calls in Australia's ports to dock and refill or just show presence, writes Politico. Last year the US made a deal with Norway that allows them to dock and refill in the Artic, where the Russians are expanding their military presence. There is some strategic rethinking coming from the Pentagon.
France Recalls Ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia
The New York Times reports France Recalls its Ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia to protest Biden’s submarine deal.
In a statement, the French foreign minister said the decision was made by President Emmanuel Macron.
“At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately recall our two ambassadors to the United States and Australia to Paris for consultations,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian, the foreign minister. “This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States.”
In the statement announcing that the ambassadors would return temporarily to Paris — a severe diplomatic step that is usually used against adversaries — Mr. Le Drian made it clear that his country saw the actions of the two nations as a serious breach of trust.
That language echoed the bitter comments from Mr. Le Drian and other French officials on Thursday, suggesting that the anger felt at the top levels of Mr. Macron’s government was more than a fleeting temper tantrum.
Rare Feud Between Allies
The WSJ notes the move marked the first time that France recalled its ambassador to the U.S. in their nearly two and half centuries of diplomatic relations.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the nonnuclear submarines being supplied by France weren’t up to the challenge of countering the growing assertiveness of China in the Pacific. But French officials said the Australians never asked them to consider supplying nuclear-propelled submarines, which are a part of the French arsenal.
Such contretemps are rare between the U.S. and its longstanding allies.
Lost in the Brouhaha
Lost in the brouhaha is a simple set of questions.
Why does Australia need $90 billion worth of nuclear submarines?
Is China about to attack Australia?
Australia only has 6 submarines. It wants 12 new nuclear ones.
Why does it need any? If does need some, why 12 and not 3?
Perhaps a Count of Submarines explains.
The Race is On
- North Korea (83)
- China (74)
- United States (66)
- Russia (62)
- Iran (34)
- South Korea (22)
- Japan (20)
- India (16)
- Turkey (12)
- Colombia (11)
Turkey and Columbia have more submarines than Australia.
How pathetic is that?
And look at that big gap between North Korea and the US. That looks ominous to the but the quality of the North Korean submarines is more than a bit suspect.
Apparently France can build them but it only has 9 of them. No wonder Australia doesn't trust them.
Regardless, to the bean counters there is a clear "submarine gap".
And if in addition to the 6 Australia already has, if it gets 12 more, that would move it into a more respectable 8th place.
After all, Australia does need to defend itself from Turkey, Columbia, and most of all New Zealand which remarkably has none.
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