âThe United States and France are NATO countries,â Morrison explained at his press conference in Washington on Thursday. âThere are certain expectations among NATO partners as to how they engage with each other on national security issues. Australia is not a member of NATO. The dialogue between the President of the United States and the President of France depended on their relationship.
It was a strange way to put it. Was he really saying that Australia and France were somehow second-rate friends, subcontracting partners more than allies?
That seems to be what he was getting at. âWe communicated, as I have said many times, that we believe a conventional submarine is not going to meet our requirements. We discussed this issue with the French for several months, and I was very clear that we would make a decision based on Australia’s national security interests. We made this decision. I understand that they are disappointed. We have acted in accordance with what we were able to do under the contract and we will honor the obligations that flow from those decisions in the contract.
Biden clearly expected Morrison to be more open with Macron and was shocked by the flashback. Biden didn’t want the pact with Australia and the UK – the awkwardly named UKUS – to be read by Paris as cutting them off from the Indo-Pacific. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told the Washington News Agency on Wednesday: âThe AKUS announcement last week was not meant to be any indication – and I think it was. is a message that the president also sent to him – to Macron – that there is no one there. others who will be involved in security in the Indo-Pacific.
Still, Biden can’t have it both ways. The United States was happy to poach France’s first customer in the region. If he wanted to be sure Macron was okay with the deal, he should have checked to see if Morrison had warned him.
Morrison, for his part, rekindled the imagery of the Great White Fleet. History buffs would recognize the echo. Alfred Deakin invited American ships to visit Australia in 1908. The irony at the time was that the arrangement was a surprise to the Colonial Office in London. As Peter Cochrane wrote in his groundbreaking book Best We Forget, The War for White Australia, 1914-18: âDeakin snubbed ‘the proper channels’, believing that national security should prevail over imperial procedure.
Morrison unknowingly plagiarized Deakin’s playbook by snubbing Paris. âI have acted in accordance with Australia’s national security interests,â he told media. Reporter: So you won’t apologize for that? Morrison: “And that’s something Australia should always do, and I think all Australians would expect me to do it.”
Watch this space, however, as Biden and Macron could potentially strike a deal to share the Indo-Pacific market, with the French providing a small number of submarines to Australia, after all. Remember that in Morrison’s rush to announce last week, he actually left Australia without a contract. The AUKUS deal still has 12 to 18 months of bargaining and review before it is signed.
The French, as another source said this week, are either going to fuck us or treat us with contemptuous indifference. Either way, Morrison would be aware that the free trade deal that Australia started negotiating with the EU while he was still treasurer in 2018 won’t be easier to sort out now.
Morrison is no longer a recruit. He is our longest-serving prime minister since John Howard. Yet he continues to make the same mistake by viewing foreign policy on the wrong side of the periscope, his gaze fixed firmly on the navel of the Australian electoral map where parish voters in Queensland, Western Australia and regional NSW hold the key to another mandate. in office for his government.
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