France recalled their ambassadors to the United States on the 17th of September, an unprecedented action never before done in their two-and-a-half century long relationship over the newly formed security pact between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.


    The pact, named “AUKUS”, provided Australia with new nuclear-powered submarines and closer military and intelligence integration. It was ostensibly just meant to strengthen their alliance, but clearly had a subtext of countering the Chinese in the Pacific. However, this came into direct conflict with the French, who still hold onto many islands in the region and have been seeking to expand their influence in the region in much the same way. By accepting the deal, Australia reneged on a deal almost fully negotiated where they were meant to buy non-nuclear French submarines for $90 Billion. They were legally allowed to do this, but it came as a large shock to the unconsulted French. The French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said that “It was really a stab in the back. We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed. This is not done between allies.” In addition, he hit Biden where it hurts, by comparing his actions to those done by Trump. 


   This is a major diplomatic incident that further strains the previously rock-solid Europe-US relationship. During the times of the Cold War, the US had a very Europe-centric policy to counter their main adversary. But as the USSR fell and China slowly took up the position as enemy, the US has in turn pivoted to Asia, to the detriment of the EU. The French have always been the most independent of the Europeans in foreign policy, keeping NATO at arms length from 1960-1990 and fighting their own wars in North and West Africa. With the soon retirement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who acted as de-facto leader of Europe for 15 years, the current president of France Emmanuel Macron likely hopes to use this incident to further his vision of an independent (and french-led) europe. Whether he will succeed will wait to be seen.