Submarine affairs: how far can the diplomatic crisis go between France, the United States and Australia?

the essential On 15 September, Australia announced that it was breaking the contract for the supply of 12 sub- French military sailors, preferring to ally themselves with the United States and the United Kingdom. A “rupture of confidence between allies” for the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian. An expert in geopolitics, Yannick Pech explains the diplomatic consequences that may arise from this crisis.

The contract negotiated with the French Naval Group in 2016 for the supply of 12 French conventional propulsion submarines to Australia is therefore null and void. What are the consequences for France?

In fact, the Australians considered that they should not stick to simply conventional submarines, like those proposed by Naval Group, and considered it more strategic to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. A first humiliation for France and for the company, which was able to supply submarines with this type of propulsion.

There is also a diplomatic and commercial humiliation, which has resulted in the withdrawal of French ambassadors in Australia and the United States. But I think it probably won’t go further, it’s more symbolic. We could sever relations altogether, but it is unthinkable between such allied countries. Finally, there is an international consequence with a possible nuclear proliferation. Indeed, even if it is only nuclear propulsion, it gives a tacit carte blanche to all those who want to sell products of the same nature to all the States of the region.

What can we envisage for future relations between France and these two countries?

What is difficult is that the Americans are locking up France, which will no longer be part of the alliance that existed against China in this region of the Indo-Pacific. Indeed, there was a Franco-Australian strategic partnership with the principle of creating a three-pillar axis with France, Australia and India. An axis that can never be done since the contract with these 12 submarines was its pillar. More broadly, this only reinforces what we already know: the United States will always satisfy its own interests. Whether in the economy or in politics in general, the French are only adjustment variables for the Americans.

Will there be boycotts from France on American products, and vice versa?

It’s hard to predict. We see that American policy does not change, whether it is Trump or Biden, the logic is the same: China is the new enemy of the United States, and whatever the government, they will continue in this adversity. France is therefore indirectly paying the price.

Boris Johnson on Sunday underlined the importance of the relationship between the UK and France. Will there always be a partnership in the future?

It could be complicated. Everything that’s happened now, with this alliance, this split and this integration of the Anglo-Saxons together only supports Brexit in a way. We see that the commercial situation is very complicated. Now it is the Lancaster House agreements, on a strategic union between the United Kingdom and France in defense, which will surely lapse.

Can France count on support from the European Union?

There were not many demonstrations of support. There may be very occasional diplomatic support, but that does not concern them directly. From a general point of view, however, what can be noted is that the European Union is a little more wary of its American ally, but in fact it is too divided to be able to take on a confrontation with the United States. United.

Back to top button