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The EU Misread Biden and Misjudged Johnson, a Bad Combination

What's the real story behind Australia's dumping of French submarines for those built by the US?
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Triumph of the British

In the Wake of Aukus

The dunderheads at the EU still have not figured out what went wrong with the Aukus deal in which Australia suddenly dumped the French "deal of the century" to buy submarines from the US instead. 

Aukus Background and Triumph of the British

US Needs France? What For?

Wall Street Journal writer Walter Russell Mead says America Should Be Frank With France.

The two nations need each other, despite French anger over the Aussie defense deal.

It is, to begin with, a massive public humiliation for Emmanuel Macron just as the next French electoral campaign begins to heat up. President Macron and his government were blindsided by a development of vital importance to French interests and international standing. The French Foreign Ministry has accused the Aukus powers of “backstabbing” and even treachery, but it’s the business of a country’s diplomatic, military and intelligence establishments to prevent such surprises. The French don’t elect their presidents to be hapless patsies hornswoggled by stupid Americans, provincial Australians and unspeakable Brits.

But this is bigger than Mr. Macron. The submarine contract was a centerpiece of Paris’s strategy for the 21st century. Building on its military strength, diplomatic acumen and technological sophistication to defeat Japan in the original competition for the Australian submarine contract, France felt it had established a position of lasting influence in the heart of the Indo-Pacific. Better still, it had outmaneuvered Britain and broken into the Anglophone world of the Five Eyes to become a privileged defense partner of Australia.

Not once did the article make a case for why the US needs France. 

And who out maneuvered whom? 

Biden Deals Europe a Tough Lesson in Realpolitik

A second WSJ Op-Ed gets the story correct 

Please consider Biden Deals Europe a Tough Lesson in Realpolitik

European Union governments and their media followers couldn’t contain their glee when Joe Biden was elected president. “The Grown Ups are Back in Charge in Washington,” proclaimed a jubilant late-November headline in the Financial Times, the house organ of the European establishment, channeling as usual the Paris-Brussels-Berlin worldview.

A special bonus for the European elites was that the Brits were finally going to get their comeuppance. After all those years of talk about “the special relationship” between London and Washington, Boris Johnson, widely viewed by Democrats and Europeans alike as a more comical version of Mr. Trump, was going to get frozen out by the new president.

Flanked by video screens in the White House East Room beaming images of Mr. Johnson in London and Scott Morrison (or “that fellow down under” as Mr. Biden called the Australian prime minister) in Canberra, the president announced the formation of a new strategic alliance: Aukus—a tripartite security, technology and intelligence-sharing arrangement among the three countries.

The deal was an astonishing coup de main against the nation both sides like to describe as America’s oldest ally. Only five years ago Paris had signed a $70 billion deal with Canberra for a fleet of French nonnuclear-powered submarines, a deal that is now canceled.

But the French like to consider themselves foreign-policy realists, and they should understand that, in the famous diplomatic phrase, nations have “no friends, only interests.”

We see the rise of an Indo-Pacific strategy launched by the United States that is militarily confrontational. That is not our position.”

That’s because the EU continues to decline to take any serious responsibility for global peace and security, preferring to see the economic and commercial opportunities in the relationship with China, rather than the threat the Chinese Communist Party represents.

Germany, the economic behemoth in the EU, is the main driver behind this. It recently led the bloc’s effort to sign an investment deal with China. It has resisted U.S. attempts to restrict the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from developing its 5G network. German exports to China continue to be the source of millions of German jobs and in an uncertain international economic climate German politicians have no intention of jeopardizing them, as they have made clear in the election campaign to succeed Angela Merkel, which ends this weekend.

This is the existential problem for the EU exposed by Mr. Biden’s undiplomatic coup.

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Snookered by Anglo-Saxons

Eurointelligence provides the best political analysis of what precisely went wrong.

 Please consider Snookered by Anglo-Saxons

The withdrawal of an ambassador is the attempt to react to a 21st century strategic shift with 19th century diplomacy. Nato won’t be disbanded, but it will play a more peripheral role in the future. From the second world war until the last decade US foreign and security policy was focused on Europe and the Middle East. Under presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden it shifted to the Indo Pacific.

This begs the question: why is the UK part of this shift, and not France? The US considers France and the EU unreliable with respect to China because of their special relationships. Germany and France have pushed the EU-China comprehensive agreement on investment just before Biden’s inauguration. Germany runs massive export surpluses with China that it wants to protect. Armin Laschet and Olaf Scholz are both in favour of extending the bilateral relationship. Europe has also left a door open to Huawei for its 5G networks. It was only the UK that really cut the links. The Chinese ambassador in the UK reacted with unbridled fury. His colleagues in Paris and Berlin, by contrast, stayed quiet. I assume that they have received reassurances through back-channels.

The UK is clearly the junior partner in Aukus. But it is the only European country the US can trust in the pursuit of its strategic interests in the Indo Pacific. For the French, the UK is not the central issue here, but its participation constitutes the added insult to the injury. They have been, as they say in England, snookered.

If the UK had still been a member of the EU, this could still have happened theoretically, but not practically. From the UK’s perspective, Brexit allows strategic options that had hitherto been unthinkable. The UK is also part of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing group that comprises them, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The UK’s strategic realignment was not inevitable. It is to a large extent the result of how the EU conducted the Brexit talks. The EU leadership never missed an opportunity to criticise Brexit. Donald Tusk, former president of the European Council, aligned himself to the second referendum campaign in the UK. The EU could have, but did not, support MPs in the UK who sought compromise, like Kenneth Clarke or Stephen Kinnock.

The second mistake, even worse than the first, was the intent to force the EU’s regulatory system on the UK as a price for a free trade deal. At no point did the EU even consider what kind of strategic relationship it wanted with the UK after Brexit. The EU let anger over Brexit get in the way over rational decision-making.

The enormous cost of this stupidity is slowly becoming apparent. The UK will not flood the EU with cheap goods, as France had feared. The UK’s strategy is more subtle. It will gradually cut off from European security policy. It will also cut off from the GDPR data protection regime and financial regulation. The UK has invested more into artificial intelligence than any EU member states. It is a permanent member of the UN security council and the G7. What on earth was the EU thinking?

And no, Biden is not going intervene on the EU’s behalf in the current standoff over Northern Ireland. EU leaders have always underestimated Boris Johnson. And they always overestimated Joe Biden. A bad combination.

The EU’s diplomacy is driven by emotion and a superficial understanding of US politics, and UK politics for that matter. Why did the EU place so much hope, so publicly, into regime change in Washington last year? Donald Trump was loud and crass, but all he ever did to the EU, other than insult them, was impose tariffs. Europe never experienced anything nearly as hostile as Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan or the Aukus deal. But all of this was perfectly foreseeable.

The next foreseeable accident with Washington will be over nuclear sharing. The Greens and the Left Party, possible members of the next German coalition, want to get out of the US nuclear umbrella. The SPD still pays lip service to Nato, but the party is opposed to Nato 2% defence spending target.

Over time, I would expect Nato to wither, and the transatlantic link to weaken. The EU talks about strategic autonomy, but underestimates the size and, more importantly, the nature of the task. That would require a federal political union, with a federal foreign policy and European defence force, both independent of member states. To fund it, such a federal union would require tax raising and debt issuing powers. The UK’s inevitable strategic realignment is making that task even harder because the UK used to play a critical part in European security, one that Germany will not fill.

Biden Again Delivers a Trump Pledge

EC President Ursula von der Leyen told CNN that there could not be “business as usual” after the EU was blindsided by Aukus.

And France wants the EU to back out of scheduled trade talks with the US,.

Once again we have the irony of Biden delivering exactly what Trump wanted: A reduced importance of NATO, better alignment with the UK, and a shunning of Germany and France for not fulfilling NATO funding promises.

Biden, albeit very sloppily, also delivered the Afghanistan exit. 

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