France Recalls U.S. Ambassador


via Wikimedia Commons

The French flag flies proudly.

France has been allied with America since the Revolutionary war. However, France recalled its Ambassador to America for the first time in history over America’s new deal with Australia. 


America’s new military alliance with Australia and Britain called AUKUS to counter China’s growing presence in the Indo-Pacific. This will give Australia nuclear propulsion technology along with eight nuclear-powered submarines, all to be built in Australia.  The submarines are not armed with nukes, but instead are conventionally armed with torpedoes, and use nuclear energy to power themselves. This is more convenient than diesel-powered submarines because they don’t need to refuel and can stay underwater for three months before surfacing for provision.  This deal resulted in Australia canceling their $65 billion US dollar contract for 12 diesel-powered submarines with France.  Economically, the 65 billion dollar loss is a huge amount of money, especially relative to the size of the French economy.  This is also a huge loss for those working for the French Defence industry since they have been employed on the project for 5 years. Australia’s decision will also affect the thousands of workers working on the submarines.  Aside from the 65 billion dollar loss, the treaty does not include France, a major ally that has a strong presence in the Indo-Pacific.  With 1.5 million citizens scattered across France’s territories, mainly on the island of New Caledonia and Réunion, France is the only European country with possession in the Indo-Pacific.  


France claimed they were not informed about the deal until the media leaked it about an hour before Joe Biden met with Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison. Many different people have lots to say about this. Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the pact a “stab in the back” from their allies.  The Australian Defense Minister, however, said their decision to switch “is based on what is in the best interests of our national security.”  American officials claim to have told their French and European allies about the deal before and after the agreement, along with Australia saying they notified high-ranking French officials of their decision.  President Joe Biden replied with the fact that America is looking forward to cooperating between Europe and Asia to maintain peace in the Indo-Pacific.  Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the importance of having France as “a vital partner” in the Indo-Pacific as well.  


On September 22, President Biden spoke by phone with President Macron of France about the new defense partnership with Australia and Britain.  They agreed to meet in person in Europe at the end of October, and for President Macron to return the French Ambassador to Washington DC.