World Sub snub just one symptom of longtime French unease with US
Military junta to open talks over Guinea's future post-coup
CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinea's junta is expected to face more pressure Tuesday to set a timeframe for new elections as the military rulers open a four-day series of meetings about the West African nation's future following the coup just over a week ago. Concerns are growing about how quickly the junta led by Col. Mamady Doumbouya will give up power to a civilian-led transitional government as called for by regional mediators and the international community.
NEW YORK (AP) — Liberty and Fraternity, yes. Equality, not so much.
Born of a revolution fought for liberty, ties between the United States and its oldest ally, France, have long been fraternal, but they've also been marked by deep French unease over their equality.
Overnight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France
It's Thursday, welcome to Overnight Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.French officials are furious over the Biden administration's decision to scrap a $40 billion nuclear submarine deal that the European nation had signed with Australia, lashing out at President Biden over a perceived hidden deal that sidelined Paris.We'll break down what caused the rift, how the French have reacted and the U.S. government's response.For The Hill, we're Ellen Mitchell and Rebecca Kheel. Write to us with tips: emitchell@thehill.
French concerns about being the junior partner in the relationship boiled over last week when the U.S., Britain and Australia announced a new security initiative for the Indo-Pacific, aimed at countering a rising China. The AUKUS agreement scuttled a multibillion-dollar submarine deal that France had with Australia, but, more alarmingly for the French, pointedly ignored them, reinforcing a sense of insecurity that has haunted Paris since the end of World War II.
France has long bristled at what it sees as Anglo-Saxon arrogance on the global stage and has not been shy about rallying resistance to perceptions of British- and German-speaking dominance in matters ranging from commerce to conflict.
Afghanistan updates: Blinken faces 2nd day of grilling on Capitol Hill
The Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan even as some Americans and Afghans continue desperate efforts to get out.But even as the last American troops were flown out to meet President Joe Biden's Aug. 31 deadline, other Americans who wanted to flee the country were left behind. The Biden administration is now focused on a "diplomatic mission" to help them leave but some hoping to evacuate are still stuck in the country. Meanwhile, the Taliban has announced its new "caretaker" government that includes men with U.S. bounties on their heads -- and no women.
Successive American presidents through the decades have ignored French warnings about military involvements from Indochina to Iraq. France's lessons learned in Vietnam and Algeria didn't translate. And, when France has on occasion supported military interventions, notably in Syria in 2013, the Americans have pulled back.
Thus the latest affront, AUKUS, resulted in an explosion of ire, with the French loudly protesting and recalling their ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia while shunning the British in an overt manifestation of centuries of rivalry.
France seeks European support after submarine deal surprise
PARIS (AP) — France canceled meetings with British and Australian officials and is trying to rally EU allies behind its push for more European sovereignty after being humiliated by major Pacific defense pact orchestrated by the U.S. Australia and Britain insisted Monday that the diplomatic crisis wouldn't affect their longer-term relations with France, which is seething over a surprise, strategic submarine deal involving the U.S., Australia and Britain that sank a rival French submarine contract.France recalled its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia for the first time because of the deal, and its anger is showing few signs of subsiding.
The French argue they are a natural partner for an initiative to blunt China’s growing assertiveness in the Pacific, with far more territory, troops and influence in the region than Britain, whose empire has shrunk to just one inhabited island there. As such, they would have expected to have been consulted, particularly by a U.S. administration that ostensibly champions multilateral diplomacy and values allies.
“It leaves an unpleasant taste of being disdained and sidelined,” said Pierre Vimont, a former French ambassador to the United States who is now at Carnegie Europe, a branch of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “France was totally left out by this new alliance even if we didn’t want to be a party to it.”
And, while Biden administration officials raised eyebrows over the intensity of the French reaction, many acknowledge that the announcement of the initiative was handled poorly with little to no thought to how Paris would respond.
Indeed, the joint U.S.-French statement following the Wednesday make-up call between Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron said “the two leaders agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners.”
Biden agrees with France's Macron that sub snub could have been handled better
The White House and the Élysée Palace struck a reconciliatory note. Biden and Macron spoke on the phone Wednesday, in a bid to smooth over the diplomatic fallout from a defense partnership the U.S. struck with Australia and the United Kingdom.
Privately, some American officials see the rollout of the submarine deal as clumsy. “Here’s a new ANGLO SAXON bromance partnership with our besties, the Brits and Ozzies. No Gauls allowed,” a veteran diplomat who was not authorized to speak publicly to the matter said in an email.
That sense of resentment is palpable among French academics and leaders, especially those who barely concealed their disgust at President Donald Trump and his brash and brusque “America First” ideology and heartily welcomed the arrival of Biden and his “America Is Back” mantra.
“France is disappointed because it didn’t expect this from the Biden administration, which it thought would be much more multilateral and trans-Atlantic, and even Francophile,” said Laurence Nardon of the French Institute for International Relations.
In fact, Biden's top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is a fluent French speaker who grew up and went to high school in Paris. And despite the fallout from AUKUS, Blinken still plans an official visit to Paris in early October.
Yet, French anger over the snub was such that a normally routine meeting between Blinken and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York this week became an issue, leading to uncertainty about whether it would actually take place.
When it finally did, on Thursday, a day after Biden spoke to Macron, the French foreign ministry said the meeting was aimed at “restoring confidence,” but Le Drian said "it would take time to end the crisis between our two countries and would require actions.”
The American account of the meeting made no mention of a “crisis” or “restoring confidence” but did give a nod to Indo-Pacific issues and “the need for close cooperation with France and other European allies and partners active in the region.”
Charlton reported from Paris.
France's role in NATO not in question despite US rift .
BRUSSELS (AP) — As tensions between France and the United States simmered this week over an Indo-Pacific defense deal that sank a multi-billion-dollar French submarine contract, a French general handed the baton of a key NATO command center to a fellow French air force officer. At a ceremony Thursday in Norfolk, Virginia, Gen. Philippe Lavigne took charge of Allied Command Transformation, where NATO does its strategic thinking, from Gen. Andre Lanata, who had led the center for three years. The handover cemented France’s place at the head of one of the military alliance's two strategic command centers, and NATO’s only headquarters in North America.