Joe Biden cited his experience in foreign policy often on the 2020 presidential campaign trail. But it looks like one U.S. ally isn’t pleased with how the commander-in-chief is handling what is perhaps his most important job.
After Biden announced a new, trilateral security deal with Australia and the United Kingdom, French officials said they felt betrayed for having been left out of the arrangement, The Daily Caller reported.
“Trust has been broken”
News reports first revealed Wednesday that the U.S., U.K., and Australia had formed the new security pact, known as AUKUS.
The agreement is reportedly focused on maintaining order and security in the Indo-Pacific region, with an unspoken but obvious eye toward containing Chinese influence.
The first order of business for AUKUS would be a joint operation to help Australia build its own fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. But, as France was quick to point out, that nation already had a $40 billion deal worked out several years ago with Australia to provide it with a fleet of French-built submarines, according to Reuters.
“This brutal, unilateral, and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told local media, as the Daily Caller reported. “I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies.”
The official added: “It’s a stab in the back. We created a relationship of trust with Australia and that trust has been broken.”
Psaki plays dumb
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked during Thursday’s briefing about France’s outrage over the deal, but per usual, she was happy to dance around the question.
According to a White House transcript, the press secretary said the U.S. and France remain engaged on a range of other issues and directed any questions about the submarine deal to the Australians.
Psaki also repeatedly stated that France had been kept informed of the new arrangements before they were publicly announced — suggesting that they’d had plenty of opportunities to register their disapproval — but according to Reuters’ report, French officials assert that they were only made aware of the deal mere hours ahead of time.
As for the French foreign minister’s accusation that Biden’s unilateral behavior here was no different than what former President Donald Trump would have done, Psaki smugly told reporters, “I would say the president doesn’t think about [that] much.”
“The president’s focus is on maintaining and continuing our close relationships with leaders in France, with the United Kingdom, with Australia, and to achieving our global objectives, which include security in the Indo-Pacific,” she insisted, according to the transcript. “That’s what his focus is, and we will continue to work toward a productive, constructive partnership with the French.”