First, which country is immediately west of Australia? Second, which country is immediately east of Australia? Thirdly, which country sprawls most widely over the globe?
The answer to all of these questions is the same: France.
The nasty row which has broken out between Paris, Washington, Canberra and (to an extent) London, is about more than a €60bn French contract to build 12 submarines for the Australian navy.
It is about France as a Pacific and Indian ocean nation; it is about France’s desire to play an important role in Indian-Pacific affairs, containing China without antagonising China; it is about America’s willingness to treat allies as allies, not vassals; it is about honesty and openness in international affairs. President Emmanuel Macron has withdrawn the French ambassadors to Washington and Canberra after the US, Australia and Britain announced a new security pact, called AUKUS, after 18 months of secret talks. As part of the pact France’s 2016 deal to supply 12 diesel-powered, Barracuda-class submarines to Australia has been replaced by a US-UK promise (not yet a deal) to supply nuclear-powered, but not nuclear armed, subs. Läs artikel