Sept 17, 2021: US President Joe Biden’s decision to form an Indo-Pacific alliance with Australia and Britain to counter China has angered France and the European Union. They feel left out and see it as a return to the Trump era.
Biden administration’s security initiative to curb China’s power in the Indo-Pacific that came to light this week has abruptly ended Biden’s summer of love for Europe. The AUKUS, which excludes France and the EU in particular, is the latest in a series of measures from Afghanistan to East Asia that have taken Europe by surprise.
After promising European leaders that “the United States is back” and that multilateral diplomacy will guide US foreign policy, Biden has distanced several allies from a single point of view on key issues.
The French foreign minister expressed “total incomprehension” of the recent move, calling it a “stab in the back” and the EU’s foreign policy chief complained that Europe had not been consulted.
Some have compared Biden’s recent actions to his predecessor Donald Trump’s “America First” ideology. Surprisingly, a president immersed in international affairs ran for the White House, pledging to mend broken relations with allies and restore America’s global reputation.
While it is impossible to predict whether the damage will be lasting, the short-term effects have rekindled European skepticism about US intentions, with Biden’s broader goal of uniting democracies against dictatorships. With potential implications, mainly focused on China and Russia.
Since June, Biden has left the United States’ oldest allies, France, Poland and Ukraine, questioning its commitment to security and worries the European Union more than unilateral decisions from Afghanistan to East Asia. Do And, while Europe rejoiced when Biden promised to return to nuclear talks with Iran and resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, both efforts stalled for nine months under his administration.
In addition, Biden’s acquiescence of a German gas pipeline from Russia to Germany in July began to unfold that would ignore Poland and Ukraine, and a month after the US chaos in Afghanistan in August. With the withdrawal, it shook Europe to continue after expressing concerns about the evacuation.
Then just this week, Biden angered France and the European Union with his announcement that the United States would join Britain and Australia after Brexit in a new Indo-Pacific security initiative aimed at increasing China’s aggression in the region.
While it is understandable for China to react angrily to the decision, but the reactions from Paris and Brussels were equally severe. The European allies both complained they were not only excluded from the deal but not consulted on it.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who praised the Biden manifesto “America is back” in June, described the move as “completely incomprehensible”. “It was really a stab in the back,” he said.
The White House press secretary Jen Psaki meanwhile played down France’s reaction and said in a statement said, “The president’s focus is on maintaining and continuing our close relationships with leaders in France, with the United Kingdom, with Australia and to achieving our global objectives, which include security in the Indo-Pacific.”
To lend some perspective, it may be noted that France will lose a $100 billion contract to build diesel submarines for Australia under the terms of Biden’s new AUKUS initiative, which will help the United States and Britain build Canberra’s nuclear power.
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