The USA as a superpower was admired through its earlier history due to its bipartisan approach to foreign policies. President Trump lost the election by a wide margin and the transfer of power took place under very noisy circumstances. President Joseph Biden emerged as a victor during senate ratification of electoral college votes by Trump’s own Vice President Mike Pence.
As Trump changed some of the Obama-era policies, Biden appears to be restoring some of the old policies regarding China, Russia, and other countries. Some are cosmetic and some are real that may have a profound effect in the world transiting into the multipolar world, sooner than earlier anticipated. There are feelings of uneasiness and geopolitical fallouts from some of the sudden shifts in the United States’ Policies towards its important allies through miscalculations and missteps.
AUKUS and France:
The dusting of the WW2 era “AUKUS” treaty is viewed by major allies as an “Anglo-Saxon” substitute to bypass other “Non-Anglo-Saxon” allies of the Indo-Pacific quad alliance. Japan, India, and South Korea were earlier denied the requests to purchase nuclear-powered submarines by the USA, which now is offered to Australia who is a non-nuclear country. Other allies have difficulty reconciling this anomaly.
France was particularly annoyed and felt betrayed due to the cancellation of the submarine deal with Australia over $ 19 billion. Australia also canceled the contract for EU helicopters with Airbus where France is a participant. Australia can be forgiven as a victim of circumstances as China intensifies its bullying against Australia but not the United Kingdom as a driver of this idea and Americans accept this as a normal foreign policy -military transaction, disregarding any prior consultation with France.
France as a nation has a great sense of her history and it may go back to the days when France and the United kingdom were rivals in the imperial age. France remembers the rout of Napoleon by Admiral Nelson. British remembers how France aided American revolutionaries to achieve their independence from the colonial British Empire. During the second world war, Charles De Gaulle representing liberated France from Hitler’s clutches was largely excluded from the postwar planning of new states by Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. De Gaulle’s repeated pleas through the U.S. State Department were ignored. It was humiliating for Charles De Gaulle and France and the bad feelings and lack of trust made France leave NATO albeit temporarily. This distrust continued during the Nixon era when France under De Gaulle demanded Gold as a payment to cash in France’s excess dollar reserve. The gold transfer from Fort Knox was huge and the Gold reserve drain forced President Nixon to decouple Gold from the US Dollar. Now, the UK and USA allowed Australia to cancel the deal for submarines and Helicopters reviving old bitterness among fellow NATO ally France. President Macron of France is not a very happy man. Macron felt backstabbed by his key allies.
India, Japan, and Korea already noted this divergence from Quad where equality was assumed by all members. India already has accumulated years of experience leasing nuclear-powered Russian Submarines, but the AUKUS deal sent a reminder that maintaining strategic autonomy and diversification provides the best guarantee of national security interest.
French President Macron responds in kind:
The Middle East is regarded as an established turf for Anglo-American Arms manufacturers. Upon assumption of the office and pressured by the ultra-left wing of the Democratic party, President Biden was forced to open up an issue that is considered closed with Saudi Arabia. The opening of Jamal Khashoggi’s issue with Saudi Prince, a de facto ruler. Not only that President Biden canceled and revised downward President Trump’s 100 billion arms deal spread over several years and withdrew support to Saudi over the Yemen war. President Biden said, “This war has to end as it is a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.” Sensing this reversal and letdowns from the Trump era to the Biden era came as a shock to the Saudi monarch. French President Emmanuel Macron grabbed the opportunity and hit back at “Anglo-Saxon” interest in West Asia where it can hurt most — in Saudi Arabia and UAE.
Early in December, the United Arab Emirates, which is a member of Quad # 2, (an informal block that includes India, Israel, and the USA.) was visited by French President Macron. The United States earlier had objected to Abu Dhabi pursuing a 5G deal with China and offered an F-35 deal worth $ 23 billion to UAE.
Quad # 2 allies are believers in “strategic autonomy” and are more interested in keeping the Middle East, a Nuclear-free zone. In the muti-polar world, the geopolitical interest of the countries is more likely to be dictated by their GPS coordinates and not dictated by any powers. There are substantial pieces of evidence that the world is moving into “Multi-Polarity” from “single or dual” polarity. President Macron wrapped up an arms deal with UAE of significant proportions that involved 80 French Rafale fighters and 12 Helicopters amounting to nearly $19 billion. This will keep Dassault Aviation going until the year 2032.
This does not include potential Saudi interest. We can be sure the Saudi Royals were consulted by UAE before inviting President Macron. Earlier in absence of a French alternative, UAE was willing to buy the F-35 subject to the American condition that their usage will be under American control. This F-35 package to UAE was not comparable to the advanced F-35 version Israel is receiving. After the agreement, France issued a statement “This contract cements a strategic partnership that is stronger than ever and directly contributes to regional stability.”