By Ali Riza Tasdelen
It is now a well-accepted reality that the Atlantic camp led by the United States has been in a dissolution process for the past decade, while the Asian camp led by China, is growing now more than ever. Two separate events that took place last week have confirmed that reality once more. One of the events occurred during a video press conference between the US President Joe Biden, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, when iden announced that they have concluded a new defense cooperation pact under the name of “AUKUS”, and by that, the United States and the UK would share their nuclear-fueled submarine technology with Australia. Thus, a contract signed between Australia and France in 2016, with 90 billion Australian Dollars (or 66 billion US Dollars) worth of 12 conventional diesel electric submarines construction agreement, was cancelled.
The other event was that the 21st Leaders’ Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in which the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced that Iran had been accepted as a full member of the SCO and said, “The world has now entered a new era. Hegemony and unilateralism are declining, and the international system is changing towards the polarization and redistribution of power in favor of independent states”.
The split between Continental Europe and the Anglo-Saxon Sphere
Today, the term “Anglo-Saxon Sphere” includes the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which all have English as their official language and all have stronger historical and ethnic ties among themselves compared to the rest of the Western World. The Continental European countries on the other hand, consist of countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
By cancelling Australia’s purchase of conventional submarines from France after the conclusion of the AUKUS Pact, the Anglo-Saxons have basically “betrayed” or “backstabbed” France, which had been one of the most prominent countries in the Continental Europe. This naval deal between France and Australia was considered the “Deal of the Century” back in 2016, however, today it has turned into the “Betrayal of the Century” as far as France is concerned. In short, French politicians from both the government and the opposition considered this an “American betrayal of France”. The French government has immediately recalled its ambassadors to Australia and the United States, saying that this would not go unanswered.
The United States has made huge efforts to get Europe to follow it in its crusade against China. The issue was brought up at the recent NATO Summit, but this time the call received stiff resistance from France and Germany. These two prominent countries of the Continental Europe have now instead taken a rather balanced approach towards China.
The United States is in a rush to compete against the rapid growth of China and the rise of Asia. They have finally formed a strategic alliance against China in the Indo-Pacific Region, taking its eternally closest ally the UK, which has left the EU (Brexit), and Australia with it.
The US not only burned up bridges with France, but with the entire EU.
A new opportunity for Continental Europe
France, which had been one of Washington’s closest allies in Europe, has now been humiliated by the United States and suffered a major economic blow with severe social consequences. In the statements made right after this event, Paris highlighted the importance of the EU developing “a strategic autonomy” that does not rely on technological or military support from the US, which President Macron has long been repeating, to defend their common interests and values around the world, including in the Indo-Pacific region. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell shares Paris’ sentiments.
While French Foreign Minister Le Drian stated that this Submarine Deal crisis would surely have some reflections over new NATO strategy concepts, the leader of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen and the leader of France Unbowed Jean-Luc Mélenchon have blamed the United States, arguing that France should withdraw from NATO in retaliation.
An opportunity for Europe to break away from the United States
This situation presents an opportunity for Europe, which has been tending toward breaking away from the United States for the past decade, but has oscillated back and forth. France, which will take the European Council leadership in the next term, will be expected to take further steps on the concept of “a joint European Army”. EU Commission Head Ursula von der Leyen has already announced today that they will hold a summit on an “EU Defense Alliance” with President Macron. These recent events will surely lead to serious questioning of NATO’s purpose. It seems inevitable that Europe will move further away from their EU mentality and take part in the multipolar world, and that the dissolution of the Atlantic front will even further accelerate. On the other hand, Iran’s membership in the SCO and Turkey’s plans to follow a similar course will even further strengthen the growing Asian camp.