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Macron recalls France’s ambassadors to US, Australia over submarine deal. White House responds how?

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President Joe Biden’s foreign policy incompetence has been on full display with consequences from his completely botched withdrawal from Afghanistan still unfolding in tandem with the fallout from Wednesday’s submarine deal with Australia that has seriously hampered the U.S.’s relationship with its oldest ally, France.

French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the recall of France’s ambassadors to the United States and Australia on Friday after the U.S. effectively dissolved a $90 billion submarine contract with Australia’s government that France won in 2016 in favor of a partnership with the United States. 

“This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15th September by Australia and the United States,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement after characterizing the decision as a “stab in the back” to Franceinfo the day before.

“The cancellation of the Attack class submarine program binding Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States meant to launch studies on a possible future cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, constitute unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, whose consequences directly affect the vision we have of our alliances, of our partnerships and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe,” Le Drian added.

Biden administration officials claim that they gave France ample notice of the new pact between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, President Joe Biden, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but it appears that France found out just hours before.

The pact involves the creation of an enhanced trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS” which will allow the U.S. and the U.K. to share highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology with Australia.

This is likely the first time an ambassador to France has ever been recalled from the United States in the history of the alliance between the two countries.

Earlier this year, Russia recalled its ambassador to the U.S. after Biden agreed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “killer” in an interview with ABC News. The U.S. recalled its ambassador to Russia in retaliation, but both officials have since been returned.

The United States has been “in close touch” with its French partners on the decision to recall Ambassador Etienne according to National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne.

“We understand their position and will continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve our differences, as we have done at other points over the course of our long alliance. France is our oldest ally and one of our strongest partners, and we share a long history of shared democratic values and a commitment to working together to address global challenges,” Horne explained.

In a statement that offered too little, too late, State Department spokesman Ned Price tried to affirm America’s loyalty to the Transatlantic Alliance, saying it “has fostered security, stability, and prosperity around the world for more than seven decades, and our commitment to those bonds and our work together is unwavering.”

“We hope to continue our discussion on this issue at the senior level in coming days, including at UNGA next week, in line with our close bilateral partnership and commitment to cooperation on a range of issues, including the Indo-Pacific,” Price said, mentioning the United Nations General Assembly that both Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are set to attend. 

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby claimed Friday that senior government officials from the United States have been in touch with their French counterparts, but that “it was clear from the discussion that there is still much work to do in terms of our defense relationship with France,” Kirby said, later clarifying that “work” revolves around shared challenges and interests.

“There is no regional divide that separates the interests of our Atlantic and our pacific partners,” Kirby added.

Twitter was not kind to President Biden, who jetted off early to the beach in Delaware on Friday afternoon, in total disregard of the Pentagon’s confirmation that a drone strike in Afghanistan last month killed seven children, news that 10,000 migrants are flooding a bridge in Texas, the FDA rejecting the administration’s push for universal booster recommendations and of course, the French ambassador’s recall.

All horrible news stories breaking within hours of one another for an administration which remained mum.

Kay Apfel

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