Aukus: How cross-Atlantic allies turned each other on China’s Indo-Pacific threat

The talks between US, UK and Australian leaders around the G7 Summit on June 12 seemed harmless enough. The result is a four-sentence communiqué that vows to “deepen” cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Celebration of the Western Entente after Donald Trump left the White House.

More important to the French delegation was Emmanuel Macron’s first bilateral meeting with Joe Biden that day before the evening beach barbecue at Carbis Bay in Cornwall. “The United States is back,” Biden told reporters sitting next to the French president. “Leadership is a partnership,” says Macron.

Paris’s assessment of what happened in Britain couldn’t have been wrong anymore. Last week, Biden, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison settled China’s growing military goals in Asia. The deal will break France-led $ 36 billion contract, build 12 diesel submarines for Australia and undermine Macron’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.

France’s subsequent diplomatic anger-recalling ambassadors from Washington and Canberra and pushing for a postponement of a major EU-US trade conference-was the biggest rift among Western allies since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Opened. Macron and Biden seemed to admit that France had been abused. He agreed to meet the French President in Europe next month to reset the relationship. Still, as Washington’s foreign policy shifts to Asia, Europe’s doubts about the credibility of the United States as an ally are likely to rise.

The so-called Aukus Alliance signals Europe as follows: [from a deeper] “Cooperation at least in the Indo-Pacific,” said Marie Jardine, a visiting researcher and former French defense official at the Atlantic Council. She added that this decision and the transatlantic line raised the question of “the importance of European allies to the United States in competing with China and Russia.”

Canberra has doubts, but Paris keeps faith

Australian officials include the heading that Pierre Eric Pomeret, head of the French submarine Builder Navy Group, landed in Adelaide in February and ordered a review of the Barracuda contract signed by Morrison in 2016. Paris said it ignored signs of problems with the contract.

Pommellet wanted to move the contract along the “detailed design” phase to unlock large payments. But he went home empty-handed.

In reality, Canberra was looking to withdraw from the French contract for months, Australian officials said. Morrison was concerned about the cost and the slow progress of local job creation and technology transfer. In January 2020, the State Auditor said in a report that the Defense Expert Advisory Board had requested the government to seek an alternative to French submarines as early as 2018.

There was a leak in the Australian media about government dissatisfaction. In Paris, inquiries about what appeared to be an “aggressive smear campaign” in the media against the deal reassured Australian counterparts, according to French officials involved in the talks. The French view was that such a large defense contract would lead to cost overruns and delays.

Many of Pomeret’s interlocutors were unaware of Secret Plan B, according to Australian defense officials. However, France also failed to grasp the impact of Australia’s growing concern over China’s military power in the Indo-Pacific.

Canberra has come to the conclusion that the diesel submarine requested in the first bid is no longer the best way to keep Beijing away. The French had their own nuclear propulsion technology. In June, Paris diplomats even asked Canberra if they would like to move to nuclear power.

Pierre-Eric Pommellet returns empty-handed from Australia © Fred Tannau / AFP / Getty

U.S. propulsion technology is one of the “jewels of the U.S. military crown” because it becomes stealth when the submarine is submerged and helps avoid sonar detection, a former U.S. commander of the nuclear submarine said. Thomas Sugart, who is currently in the center, said. New American security. (The French claim that diesel-fueled water pump jet technology is actually quieter than the reactor’s permanently operating cooling system.)

But beyond the technical debate, the Morrison government has decided to consolidate a broader alliance with the United States. Canberra believed that the Trump administration would never share the technology. The installation of Biden in the White House has opened up new opportunities, according to Australian defense officials. In early 2021, Morrison set up a small Cabinet Committee chaired by him to consider dealing with the United States. Britain will play a role in this committee.

BoJo and ScoMo hatch Plan B

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian later dismissed Britain’s role in the Augs Agreement as something similar to the “Fifth Wheel of the Carriage”. But Canberra saw Britain, which has shared nuclear technology with the United States since 1958, as a potential intermediary to help Australia secure Washington’s technology.

One morning in March, Royal Navy officers Tony Radakin and Nick Hein were first signed by Australian defense and military personnel during a video call in London.

The call seemed reluctant to initiate an agreement to unite the United States, Great Britain and Australia as allies to China in the Pacific. The news that Australians wanted to switch from traditional submarines to nuclear submarines was a “big leap,” according to British defense officials.

Malcolm Chalmers, Research Director at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said: “This is a big step for a complex that is very sensitive to security leaks.”

Representatives from the three countries have stepped up their jobs after Canberra and London submitted their proposals to Washington, US officials said. According to the British and Australians who attended the meeting, a personal relationship between Morrison and Johnson, two populist conservative politicians, began to work. Johnson emphasized including “ScoMo” in his G7 Summit guest list in Cornwall.

The United States has determined that providing information to Paris is Canberra’s job. However, Australian officials say it was not in their interest to warn Paris. Keeping the French deal alive put great pressure on Biden to agree on a deal that would bring enormous industrial rewards to the United States.

The second mmanuel Macron from the left and the central Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the deck of the Royal Australian Navy's Collins-class submarine HMAS Waller on Garden Island, Sydney, May 2018.
Emmanuel Macron, the second from the left, and Malcolm Turnbull, the former Prime Minister of Australia, on the deck of the Collins-class submarine HMAS Waller operated by the Royal Australian Navy in Sydney in May 2018 © Brendan Esposito / AFP / Getty

France knows something is going on, but is left in the dark

Meanwhile, Paris was in a hurry. It relied on Washington to clarify — the US company Lockheed Martin was to be part of the deal. Macron’s diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Macron, Defense Minister Florence Parli and Le Dorian were individually concerned about contracts with US counterparts from June to July, according to officials briefed at the meeting. Was expressed.

Their interlocutors claimed to be silent or unaware. On September 10, Le Drian and Parley requested to speak with US counterparts Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin, respectively. No calls were made until the Aukus agreement was announced on September 15 (paving the way for a more formal 18-month consultation phase). The agreement was confirmed in the morning by Jake Sullivan, Biden’s National Security Adviser to French Ambassador Philippe Etienne, who requested an emergency meeting at the White House. “Push from behind,” Le Drian commented on French radio the next day.

“It’s a pretty serious crisis between France and the United States. The president and minister talked about it, which is good. But confidence hasn’t regained yet, and it will take time,” France said. Maya Candel, director of the US program at the Montagne Institute in France, said.

Joe Biden and Scott Morrison, left, Boris Johnson announce agreement on September 15 © Oliver Contreras / Pool / EPA / Shutterstock

Johnson’s inner circle said he thought about the consequences of Macron’s pursuit of Aux’s ideas, called “Operation Hookless” in London. “The bigger prize was at stake,” they said.

However, some British diplomats say Johnson underestimates its impact on long-term relationships with London’s European neighbors and defense partners. “Many people have awakened to the fact that they have caused very serious damage to their relations with France,” said former British Ambassador Sir Peter Ricketts. “We can’t fix this in the short term. This is one of the opportunities French people remember.”

After meeting Biden in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Johnson patted Macron and said, “Dones Moian Blake.” According to attendees, the crisis with France was “widely” discussed at the Australian Embassy in Washington that night. However, the mood of the highest priority was celebration. At the end of the meal, Johnson and Morrison signed each other’s menu with Japanese beef with goat cheese stuffed Kurjet flowers and polenta.

Additional reports by Sebastian Payne in London and Anna Gross in Paris

The story of an Australian submarine

April 2016

France’s DCNS has forgotten the competition between Japanese and German rivals and has been selected as the preferred bidder to build a conventional submarine for the Royal Australian Navy. Under a contract of A $ 50 billion (US $ 36 billion), the company, which later changed its name to the Navy Group, agreed to build and maintain 12 short fin barracuda submarines for 50 years.

February 2019

After a long delay, the Navy Group signs a strategic partnership agreement with Australia for the delivery of submarines. Negotiations on technology ownership and the form of industrial partnerships were settled only after discussions between French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as bystanders at the G20 conference.

October 2019

Australia is reassessing its defense strategy and military strength for underestimating the rate of change in the region. Australia’s Defense Minister said the Indo-Pacific region has been the center of the most radical geopolitical change since World War II, and the Defense Forces need to adapt to meet the challenges.

January 2021

According to information from the United States and its allies, Chinese military aircraft simulated missile attacks on US aircraft carriers during their invasion of Taiwan’s air defenses.

September 2021

Australia has said it will cancel its deal with the Navy Group and instead procure at least eight nuclear submarines as part of an agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States.

Aukus: How cross-Atlantic allies turned each other on China’s Indo-Pacific threat

Source link Aukus: How cross-Atlantic allies turned each other on China’s Indo-Pacific threat

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