The fallout over the AUKUS deal, as we are now seeing, has been a severe rift in relations between two historic allies, the U.S. and France. And the collateral damage may also include NATO.

The UK Carrier Strike Group 2021, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, departing the UK [Credit: Royal Navy/Flickr]
Only weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden courageously ended the war in Afghanistan—in the face of bitter opposition from the media and Congress—came the announcement of the formation of AUKUS, a new trilateral security alliance between the U.S., the UK and Australia.

The creation of AUKUS is only further confirmation—as if more was needed—that the Biden administration intends to wage a new cold war in Asia with China as its target.

This is not a development we should welcome. As the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft’s Anatol Lieven has recently observed, a new cold war “with China… will continue to lock in place the power of the U.S. military-industrial complex and squander trillions more on wasteful and unnecessary military programs designed to benefit American corporations rather than defend the actual security of actual American citizens.”

And so, as Biden puts an end to one hot war, he finds himself starting yet another cold war: One step forward, two steps back.

AUKUS’s debut has been marred by a high-profile controversy with France, which believed it had reached a deal with Australia to provide it with 12 diesel-electric submarines. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, meanwhile, noted in a statement that, instead, the Americans and the British will be providing Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

European leaders have come out strongly against AUKUS. Both European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned the move. And the French are furious. French President Emmanuel Macron has recalled his ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia, while the former French Ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud observed on Twitter, “The new reality of the world rivalry of great and middle powers should lead France to a 2.0 Gaullist stance. Allied but not aligned. Some confrontations are not ours.”

And so, the fallout over the AUKUS deal, as we are now seeing, has been a severe rift in relations between two historic allies, the U.S. and France.

And the collateral damage may also include NATO.

The AUKUS controversy puts the future of the transatlantic alliance in question. Recall that Macron has long been a vocal and perceptive critic of the nearly 75-year-old alliance. A self-described disciple of France’s wartime leader and former President Charles de Gaulle, Macron has criticized the foreign policy of his immediate predecessors as a kind of “imported neoconservatism.” His own foreign policy forays can be characterized as a quest for strategic autonomy, away from the dictates of Washington and London.

Biden’s AUKUS debacle just may give Macron the leverage he needs to move the rest of Europe in his direction, toward a foreign policy that rejects the decades-old Atlanticist consensus in favor of a continental security architecture that takes into account the interests of all of Europe, as de Gaulle once put it, “from the Atlantic to the Urals.”

At a minimum, the AUKUS debacle may have the effect of pushing France closer together with its old ally Russia. Macron may double down on his policy of detente with the Kremlin, which only recently was the target of criticism by his partners in the EU.

This would leave Anglo-American neoconservatives and liberal hawks seething, but such a development might be just what is needed for a stable and peaceful future for Europe.

James W. Carden is a writing fellow at Globetrotter and a former adviser to the U.S. State Department. Previously, he was a contributing writer on foreign affairs at the Nation, and his work has also appeared in the Quincy Institute’s Responsible Statecraft, the American ConservativeAsia Times, and more.

This article was produced by Globetrotter in partnership with the American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord.

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One Comment

  1. samir sardana says:

    The US needed a solid deterrence to reduce the risk of “miscalculation” by China’s leadership.

    That SOLID deterrence = AUUKUS !

    AUUKUS is not a tech sharing platform ! It is a military alliance ! Soon UK carriers plying through Russian waters will also become routine !

    But the Subs are many years away !

    There is a New POTUS,and so,a new formation was required = AUUKUS !

    AUKUS proves that POTUS has declared that,US has a new enemy,and it is PRC ! Islam is history, for the US !

    AUKUS is also a statement fron POTUS,that QUAD was a failure !

    Any bloc which has India and Chaiwala in it,is DOOMED ! A nation which CANNOT manage O2,for its people and cannot defend its land from the PRC – will take on the PLAN ? Indians are weasel limpets ! This pathetic nation has no EMP/DEW/Stealth tech and its Choppers and Sukhois,are crashed by PLA EMP,each time they fly close,to the Chinese Border !

    It is time for this nation to die ! These weasels were begging the US for help – AND THAT WAS A WAKE UP CALL FOR THE USA ! They realised the worth OF THE INDIAN WEASELS and LIMPETS ! These Indians use Nepalee Goo-r-khaa rats in their army,when they are NOT Indians.4feet 4 inch midget limpet hobbits ! The word Goo-r-ha means “himalayan rat”,called “Apodemus gurkha ”

    Nippon is not the race,which sank the Russian fleet,200 years ago,and it is also,not the race of Heidiki Tojo ! Nagasaki and the induced shame of WW2,has led to Nipponese RESTRAINING and HIDING.their TRUE DNA ! They are the master race of Asia – but have been emasculated by the US and the US bombing ! Nipponese will NOT risk annihilation,for a few islands and least of all,for some Indian vermin or Indian waters,or Aussie Iron Ore !

    And so,POTUS Joe gets in Aussie !

    The Diesel subs were planned,when the aim was to defend Aussie waters ! With POTUS, the target it SCS and PRC ! To prowl,patrol and block the SCS,you need subs,which can stay underwater for months and dock in pens in Aussie (all the way back) undetected !That is only a N-Sub ! The US N-Subs as of today,are FAR SUPERIOR to the PLAN,and so,can BLOCK THE PRC SHIPPING ROUTES and also OBVIATE A PLAN NAVAL BLOCKADE OF NIPPON AND TAIWAN ! BUT by the time the Aussies have the sub,PLAN will also roll out its new N Subs !

    Thence comes in the Aussie change of mind ! And thus,exists France ! France will not ANTAGONISE PRC ! A Nuke Sub by Aussie has ONLY 1 TARGET – and that is PRC ! What is the sense of ICBM and BM on a diesel sub ? Only a fool or Modi, will use a ICBM to kill a Frigate or destroyer ! Y will anyone load a Nuke payload on a diesel sub,as the sub will be killed,when it surfaces for air,for its batteries and O2 plant !

    A N Sub makes sense ONLY with N Payload,and a 1st and 2nd strike option – which is only targetted to PRC !

    That explains the Aussie love story ! All in all, it is a recipe for certain disaster in the SCS,very soon,for the PRC to divert from Evergrande !

    The Chinese real estate will sink banks,steel,cement and labour market.But some real estate companies will need to die,to send a message by Chairman Xi,to the Chinese,that rampant buccaneering consumerism,materialism and capitalism = doom !

    To divert from the abovesaid purge,PRC needs a diversion,in SCS.dindooohindoo

    There is a new untested POTUS,and the US Navy has not been tested,since WW2 !