The military pact between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom is further proof that Europe's influence is eroding. To make up for the absence of a collective defense from the bloc's 27, it is urgent to establish alliances with different countries.
The slap that Australia, along with the United States and the United Kingdom, has just inflicted on us is a reminder of some disturbing truths — which happen to be opposed to the values we cherish. First of all, it reminds us that in international relations, friends don't exist. There are just allies who share common interests. Europeans have long lived with the illusion that the United States, a brotherly country, would only want the best for us and that Joe Biden had a special bond with the land of his ancestors.
The fact that President Biden convinced Canberra to break its commitments with France's Naval Group shows his determination to follow only one course: that of Washington's economic and commercial interests. From this point of view, Biden's actions are much more damaging than Donald Trump's, because they are more thoughtful and effective. This is actually the second time since the beginning of the summer that the French defense has been snubbed: last June, Americans had managed to impose their fighter planes on Switzerland, to the detriment of France's Rafale.
The Australian fiasco teaches us something else: our allies are less scrupulous than us in transferring their technologies. France has always refrained from exporting its nuclear-powered ships, because it sees them as the key to its independence and expertise. By agreeing to share theirs with the Australians, the Americans are breaking a major taboo.
History provides only one precedent, when Washington had offered its atomic expertise to the British. It was 1958, at the height of the Cold War — which says a lot about the anti-China front that is building up today. Will the American-Australian cooperation encourage other countries to develop their nuclear, civilian or military arsenals? Many fear so.
What's most cruel about this whole affair is to realize how much Europe's influence is eroding. Our hesitation vis-à-vis China is pushing the United States to forge alliances elsewhere, and without us. At the same time, they give Boris Johnson a great opportunity to achieve his ambitions to create a "Global Britain."
By contrast, Europe doesn't give any real weight to the common defense it calls for. The resistance of many countries, especially Poland, should push us to establish mini-alliances, as the United States is doing right now. We can only hope that the German election next week will choose a more proactive chancellor than Angela Merkel to actively support this strategic autonomy.
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