AUKUS & the French Submarine Crisis

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - AUKUS & the French Submarine Crisis

In what its Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described as a “stab in the back”, France has heavily criticised Australia’s decision to cancel a huge deal she had signed with her in 2016 to purchase conventionally powered submarines in preference of a strategic partnership with the US and Britain. America and Britain announced also that they would supply Australia with the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines within the framework of a strategic security partnership and a tripartite alliance known as AUKUS.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton announced that the security agreement his country concluded with the UK and the US would allow Washington to bolster her military presence in Australia. As the AUKUS agreement was announced, and despite statements from Europe sympathising with France, the European political division nurtured by the rift between the US and France emerged and was evident in the conflict between upholding a unified standpoint and exercising one’s volition and in the newspapers as well as the statements of several officials. In her State of the Union address, President of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen tackled the direction of the EU on three important and strategic topics which all serve Joe Biden’s agenda towards China, namely a rival initiative to the Belt and Road Initiative, a European policy for the Indo-Pacific region and European security and defence policy. However, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, described the European vision towards the Indian and Pacific Oceans as being a cooperative rather than a confrontational approach, which is the policy France has been calling for towards Russia and China, thus contradicting the American approach built on alliances that Biden referenced when saying “When we strengthen our alliances, we amplify our power…..we will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s.”

The aim of the American approach is to isolate Russia and China while dwarfing France, subjugating and integrating her into the policy devised for the EU to preserve the current world order that in turn guarantee’s US long term undisputed dominion over the international situation. This was expressed by former Secretary of State Pompeo who said the “…Chinese Communist Party[‘s] … actions are the primary challenge today in the free world…Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity” adding “We must admit a hard truth that should guide us in the years and decades to come, that if we want to have a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams.”

Hence, it is now clear that the step America, Britain and Australia have taken falls under the necessary plans and arrangements to reassure Britain, who has exited the EU, and reassure Australia and the countries neighbouring China, and on the other hand, isolate and contain China, lay siege to her economic growth and regional ambitions, prevent her from taking any steps that may undermine the political, security and economic system that America has anchored in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the South China Sea, prevent her from bullying the countries of the region and any endeavours that may lead to changing the status quo, destabilise the world order and threaten US interests and Western values. This was alluded to by the White House spokesperson when she commented on the tripartite partnership and alliance by saying “This partnership, announced yesterday, is not about any one country. This is about advancing our strategic interests, the strategic interest of the United States, upholding the international rules-based order, and promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.” Over the last two decades, China has embarked on upgrading its naval defence system since its major strategic dilemma lies in her need for safe passage to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, especially as she has been targeted by the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), strengthening of Taiwan’s defence capabilities via a host of arms deals, bulwarking Hong Kong through the Sino-British agreement of 1997, the highlighting of the Uyghurs’ issue and demonising her on Covid-19. China has also been targeted by the Integrated Strategic Deterrence, which US military commanders urged to be swiftly implemented two months ago and is designed to deter China from thieving technology, violating intellectual property and staging cyberattacks, and to tackle the “evil Chinese influence”. The tripartite alliance between the US, Britain and Australia further targets China with the submarine deal whose aim was summed up by French Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire with “the US has one obsession, which is to contain the surge of China’s power” and corroborated by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who commented on Macron’s reaction with “Donnez-moi un break” (give me a break).

The issue of the French submarines, Australia’s decision to cancel the$56 billion deal which led France to recall her ambassadors to Canberra and Washington for consultation, Switzerland’s decision to cancel the purchase of French jetfighters Dasseault Rafale worth over $5 billion for US F35 jetfighters instead, and the Romanian government’s decision to reconsider a similar deal worth €1.2 billion to build four French Gowind corvettes, was the culmination and result of America’s arrangements for the current century, and of the turbulent relationship between France and America, which the latter will add to her ammunition used in the battle to dismantle the deep state in France and harness it against Macron in the presidential election of spring 2022. The tripartite alliance and the cancelling of the arms deals with Australia and Switzerland have dealt France a heavy blow, and made her rush towards India lest the latter should withdraw from an earmarked deal to purchase Rafale Dassault jetfighters. They have also shaken her diplomatic abilities and her continental and international weight which may destabilize her and have an impact on her endeavours to form a European force independent of NATO. Boris Johnson taunted Macron following France’s misfortune and addressed him from outside US Capitol with “get a grip”.

The extent of the pain that France has suffered was reflected in the reactions of the French leaders; French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Radio France Info “it is indeed a stab in the back”, and that he was “infuriated” and “very bitter” adding “we established a relationship based on trust with Australia, and this trust has been betrayed… the Europeans decided three days ago to adopt a strategy specific to them in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.” He also said his country was in the process of reassessing her standpoint vis-à-vis her allies within the context of responding to the strategic alliance between the US, Britain and Australia.” He told Channel France2 “the issue of the submarines is a serious crisis that will affect the future of NATO”, and he accused Australia and the US of lying and Britain of persistent opportunism.

The reason behind America’s targeting of France is the latter’s assiduous endeavour to ratify the agreements on deepening European political integration and security independence based on the principle of “we are with America, but we are independent”. France has also been targeted because of her bitter resentment towards the Anglo-Saxon fiscal system which was exasperated by the 2008 financial markets collapse, and because she is a nuclear power who unlike Britain, has maintained independence of the French nuclear deterrent and arms industry and was never fully integrated with NATO despite her membership. She withdrew from NATO’s operational aspect since the days of De Gaulle and has never partaken in the projects of military cooperation and collaborative industries as Britain has. And this is what infuriated America and led her to persistently call for an increase in NATO’s military spending in the face of France’s attempts to wriggle out of it. Moreover, France has been targeted because Macron has been attempting to intervene to solve the issue of the short and medium-range missiles treaty, persuade EU member states to establish a European military force, restore the relationship with Russia and dissipate the state of uncertainty America is instigating to corroborate NATO’s role and control of European security.

Hence, America has been working directly and through her agents to sow despair in France, dwarf her and sweep her back to the French inland. this explains why Macron has been attempting to conceal his failure and compensate for it by launching an onslaught on Islam with the aim of mobilising the Europeans behind him and by taking precautionary measure domestically through evoking the fears of French citizens from the threat of Islam on their identity.

This shock and its fallout has unnerved France and made her lose her composure which lead her leaders to seek a solution to the crisis that has damaged her diplomatic and political existence and her international image. She could either pursue her hybrid approach of “we are with you but we are independent” and move towards bolstering her relationship with Russia and China, which a large number of EU member states are averse to as it weakens the EU further, or opt for full integration under the umbrella of the EU, thus evaporating any independence she has left due to the method of European decision making which necessitates political consensus in security and political matters and exactly what the US wants.

Finally, this event confirms yet again that the capitalist West is divided, even though they are united in their war against Islam and the Muslims, because the capitalist doctrine they embrace promotes individualism and egoism, and only recognises the criterion of materialist expediency and interest. This makes Islam the only viable ideology to guide human life and makes the Islamic Ummah the sole, fair and just leader to govern people’s affairs and safeguard their interests.

17 Safar 1443h
24 September 2021