The AUKUS submarine deal that deprived France of a hefty contract with Canberra has led to a “big loss of confidence” in the Biden administration, a former foreign policy advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.
The agreement between Washington, London and Canberra to provide Australia with nuclear-powered, yet conventionally armed submarines, which was announced earlier this month, became an “insult to a NATO partner” from the US, Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s former UN envoy, who advised Merkel on foreign policy for 12 years, told the Financial Times.
The emergence of the AUKUS deal prompted Australia to withdraw from a $66 billion contract for diesel-electric subs with France. Paris was outraged with the move, which it described as “a stab in the back,” while also recalling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra. However, after a mid-week phone call between US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron it was decided that France will return its envoy to the US and try to find ways to settle the crisis.
The new security alliance between Washington, London and Canberra has resulted in a “big loss of confidence” in the Biden administration. “And I don’t know if that loss has been sufficiently outweighed by the supposed increase in regional security,” Heusgen insisted.
AUKUS is believed to be aimed at countering China’s growing Influence in the Indo-Pacific region, with the US and its allies being increasingly concerned with Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its growing tensions with Taiwan.
The announcement of the pact “was all the more irritating because one had expected from Biden, based on his public statements, that he would adopt a different style to [his predecessor Donald] Trump, in terms of cooperation with his partners,” the ex-foreign policy adviser pointed out.
And AUKUS wasn’t the only troubling moment, as the same disregard for America’s NATO allies in the EU had been shown by the Biden administration during the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan in August, he added.
Heusgen’s statement appears to be the harshest reaction to the pact between the US, UK and Australia coming from Germany so far. Merkel’s government has largely restrained its criticism of AUKUS, with only German European Affairs Minister Michael Roth calling it a “wake-up call” for the EU.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who is also German, said that the submarine deal had left a lot of “unanswered questions,” while describing the treatment of France as “not acceptable.”
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