History is repeating itself: The loyal ally of the United States has been cheated. Lafayette is turning in his grave. Joe Biden and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, nicknamed “that fella down under” by the American president, [ https://nypost.com/2021/09/16/biden-appears-to-forget-australian-pm-scott-morrisons-name/ ] are liquidating the $60 billion Franco-Australian agreement, and planning the construction of 12 contractual submarines and a nuclear submarine flotilla by 2040 on the Australian border of the China Sea. This cements the exceptional trust given to Australia, which is becoming a fascinating player in nuclear military technology.
It is also the continued expression of American foreign policy and defense focused on China at the expense of smaller threats like the Middle East and its Afghan border. But that’s how America does it: The careless cowboy sends the Gallic rooster packing without any regard.
Once again, Great Britain, the traitor indentured to the United States, especially during and since World War II, is participating in the disaster, a bit like a jackal feasting on the victim’s remains. It was Winston Churchill’s Great Britain that, weary of Charles de Gaulle’s attitude of grandeur while hosting his scattered troops following the Appeal of June 18, 1940, kept raising the bar after the French defeat at the hands of Hitler’s army. It is also Great Britain that de Gaulle would humiliate twice, in 1963 and 1967, by rejecting its request to join the European Union. Finally, it is England, vilified by the EU following the ill-fated Brexit, that has given Great Britain the impression of having reconquered the open sea. For Australians, the irony is all the more memorable; decades earlier, the French nuclear trials in the Pacific lead to a deep diplomatic breach. Incidentally, neighboring New Zealand, devoted to nuclear opposition, has already announced that the nuclear submarines would not have the right to pass through its waters.
How is history repeating itself? Remember that at the end of World War II, European unification had become the watchword for the states freed of the Germanic yoke.
European greats like Jean Monnet or Robert Schuman were praised, but it is often forgotten that the European Coal and Steel Community was born through German industry’s return in force to the market, faced with weak French competition in depleted mineral resources. Furthermore, anxious to attach defeated Germany to the Euro-Atlantic base facing the rise in Soviet power, the United States rushed to replace all of the German factories transplanted in France, in accordance with war reparations, with new gas coal factories that were more efficient.
Likewise, once the Atlantic alliance was concluded in 1949, the United States did not rest until it found a way to rearm Germany and integrate it against the USSR. That is when France made the proposition to create the European Defense Community to insert Germany in a European framing, rather than at the mercy of the general staff of NATO. The American pressure on France to ratify the accord it had proposed, itself, was brutal, nearly blackmail while France was tangled up in Vietnam.
In addition, when the president of the French council, Pierre Mendès France, put the accord to a vote at the French National Assembly on Aug. 30, 1954 without even engaging his own government, the accord was rejected. In the months that followed, vigorously pushed by Great Britain, the United States forced Germany’s integration in the heart of NATO as a full member. During this period, France also suffered American reproaches in favor of quicker decolonization, notably in North Africa — except when any movement in this direction could benefit the USSR and, more incidentally at the time, China — until the Korean War. France’s defeat in Vietnam, in Diên Biên Phu, would transfer this Cold War gem to the United States.
Must it be recalled that the French veto at the United Nations against the American invasion in Iraq under George W. Bush in 2003 and the temporary end of french fries? It is certainly not the image of Donald Trump brushing dandruff off of Emmanuel Macron’s jacket that will change things.
But the lesson is clear: Allies, yes, when you need them — but American interests will always come first, especially when American power or influence is declining.
Europe is an all too important actor in the new world order being drawn. It must become the third hub of the world in all sectors. Maybe a new European Defense Community is necessary, with real means, without excluding cooperation across the pond, but as far as possible as an equal and non-plaintiff power.