China Daily (Hong Kong)

Clique building creates divisions among allies

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Australia’s reneging on a multi-billion dollar contract to purchase 12 diesel-power submarines from France in favor of acquiring at least eight nuclear-powered submarines from the United States and the United Kingdom has understand­ably not gone down well in Paris.

“A stab in the back,” French Foreign Minister JeanYves Le Drian called it. Nor in Brussels, where European Council President Charles Michel, referring to the trio’s new security alliance, known as AUKUS, asked, “What does it mean — America is back? Is America back in America or somewhere else?”

Somewhere else, it would appear since the forming of AUKUS and the submarine deal show that Washington’s attention is now firmly fixed on Asia. Which has left the United States’ traditiona­l European allies feeling jilted and betrayed.

No wonder the White House was quick to offer reassuranc­e, saying on Monday that US President Joe Biden will “reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners on a range of challenges that the global community is facing” when he speaks with his French counterpar­t on the phone. Which Biden did on Wednesday.

Nonetheles­s, it seems that Biden has chosen to ignore the words of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who said that “more cooperatio­n, more coordinati­on, less fragmentat­ion” were needed to achieve a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region. Instead, AUKUS sends a clear signal that the US is intent on causing trouble.

Although France has recalled its envoys to the US and Australia for the first time, the incident is expected to blow over once Washington manages to find a way for Paris to save face, and compensate France for its loss somehow.

Nonetheles­s, the Europeans should draw a lesson from this — that although it is a so-called value alliance, the US says turkey to one country and buzzard to another, as it views them simply as scavengers.

To answer Michel’s question, what is back is an upgraded version of the America created by the previous Donald Trump administra­tion, which treats the US’ allies as nothing but collateral in its geopolitic­al games.

A better question European leaders should ask themselves is why the US is continuous­ly exporting weapons, conflict and discord, while the world is crying out for food, vaccines, peace and cooperatio­n.

A question the rest of the world should ask itself is how long will it let the US peddle the notion of security at the expense of peace and stability, which is what the Biden administra­tion has been doing since it took office in January.

As one former British prime minister pointed out, there are no eternal allies, and there are no perpetual enemies, only “our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow”. It is in the world’s interests to build a community with a shared future. That is path the US should follow.

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