Saturday, December 4

The clash between France and the US makes NATO capsize

France has called for consultations with its ambassadors in the United States and Australia as a result of the announcement of the creation of the new military alliance that the Americans have created with the United Kingdom and Australia, which involves the cancellation of a multimillion dollar contract. Own Atlantic Alliance has received the announcement with some perplexity, taking into account that two of its members participate and the fact that it occurs while the wounds caused by the resounding failure of the mission in Afghanistan are still alive. Experts believe that the situation will eventually calm down, but that Europeans must begin to get used to the fact that The United States has other interests that no longer necessarily pass through this bank of the


The most obvious symptom of the nervousness at NATO headquarters is that not a single statement has been issued in reaction to this announcement made by two allies and a country that has very strong association ties with the organization. In fact, NATO sources have limited themselves to recalling that at the last summit, held in Brussels this summer, it was already decided to strengthen relations with the partner countries of the Pacific region as Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Korea “To promote common security and support rules-based international order” and analyze “global security challenges where NATO interests are affected, through deeper political engagement.” The situation would appear so normal that “the allies already met last week with the Asia-Pacific partners to discuss cyber defense issues”, although on that occasion Australia did not inform anyone that it was negotiating this agreement with EE. .UU. Which meant the breaking of the contract with France to manufacture submarines. Beyond this phlegmatic position, in other allied media it is taken for granted that the tensions between Paris and Washington are going to surface in a very strident way in the next meetings and they are preparing for it. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg travels to the United States at the end of the month and does not even plan a fleeting contact with the Biden Administration.

A mere intermediary

The Professor Frederik Ponjaert, from the Institute of European Studies of the Free University of Brussels, believes that the role of the United Kingdom in this case, as much as it satisfies the Brexit environment, has been that of a mere intermediary while France is clearly the big loser. “It not only loses money, but also prestige and its military industry in general is weakened” and by the fact that in reality “it is the only European country that has territories in the Pacific, where more than a million and a half French citizens live.” The situation is more nuanced in the case of the EU as a whole since, on the one hand, “the first consequence is that China is harassed by this abrupt movement and China is also an adversary of the EU. In the region, all the important European allies, that is, Japan, Korea, Taiwan or India, are interested in containing China, but on the other hand this brings them closer to the North Americans ”than to the EU, although the most bloody thing was the fact that “the pact was announced on Thursday, precisely the same day that the High Representative for EU foreign policy had to present the European strategy for the Asia Pacific region” which has been completely overshadowed and practically expired in the same moment. In any case, Ponjaert believes that the birth of this alliance, which has been given the acronym Aukus, will deepen the discussion about the usefulness of NATO “which has lasted for more than 20 years” although now it is that the first operation in which the Alliance was projected outside the European space, the mission of Afghanistan, has ended the catastrophic outcome that is known. “And it must be remembered that it was the Europeans who did not want to go outside the Euro-Atlantic zone, because they preferred a NATO centered on Europe, and now they should not be surprised that the North Americans have chosen other partners.”

Range of bilateral alliances

Seen from the United States, this movement can also be understood as the icing on the cake of the range of bilateral alliances that it already has in the area with Japan, with South Korea and in some way also with Taiwan, always within its own private interests. As the American Michele Chang, a professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, where she heads the department of transatlantic relations, says, “The creation of Aukus indicates that the European hopes that the election of Biden would mark the end of American unilateralism cannot be taken for granted. . The US turn to Asia is not new, and this security association emphasizes the importance of this region to Washington. NATO would not have been the best arrangement for this type of agreement since not all European countries share the United States’ concerns about China, making NATO an inappropriate forum for this. Furthermore, the sharing of artificial intelligence and nuclear technology, as in Aukus, cannot occur on the scale of a partnership like NATO. However, this does not make NATO irrelevant, as its structure, resources and function are not duplicated under the new agreement. The handling of Aukus has alienated some in Europe, particularly France, but NATO remains the best organization for collective defense ».

Niclas Frederic Poitiers, a researcher at the Bruegel Institute, one of the most influential think-thanks in Brussels, agrees with this opinion, for whom the “disappointment” that this unilateral decision by Biden has been able to cause among Europeans must be seen under the prism of American politics. “The idea of ​​containing China’s expansion is now Washington’s first priority Because it’s the only thing that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Biden may think that if the Democrats lose four years from now and Trump returns to power, the situation could be catastrophic for them and for the country. That is why I think we Europeans should face this patiently because we have no interest in Biden’s failure either. ”