Speaking to Express.co.uk, James Shields, Professor of French politics at Warwick University, said Emmanuel Macron has been dealt a humiliating blow by his nation’s snubbing from the Aukus submarine deal by Britain, the USA, and Australia. Professor Shields suggested that as a result President Macron has been forced to learn two important lessons about himself and France moving forward as he faces down a Presidential election in 2022 and the realisation of France’s standing on the world stage becomes clear.
Professor Shields said: “The Aukus pact has been a major humiliation for France.
“And a reminder that France’s global ambitions have to be tied to bigger alliance structures.”
He gave examples of France’s links to NATO as well as pondering the idea that President Macron could eventually be invited into the Aukus pact.
But in a sobering admission, he said a central vision of President Macron’s efforts to be tie France into bigger alliances is “by developing a viable EU security and defence capability”.
But the professor did stress “we are a long, long way from that” but noted this EU army plan has been an argument that Macron has been making “both before and since his election in 2017”.
Professor Shields went on to highlight how the formation of Aukus without France in it is “all the more humiliating” since France sees itself as a major player in the Indo-Pacific region.
This is because the Indo-Pacific region is home to a number of French military bases and a couple of million citizens who hold French citizenship and identity links to the country.
As a result, President Macron feels France cannot be shown to be a military presence to protect these people.
The French expert went on to suggest how the way President Macron handles the humiliation “beyond the theatrical posturing of recalling French ambassadors” moving forward will be his next biggest challenge.
He added how the humiliation of Aukus will be a factor in the upcoming French Presidential election race in Spring 2022 for Mr Macron and will be a point of ridicule for his opponents who include Marine le Pen.
Professor Shields stressed this is an issue for Macron especially given that his administration is accused already over “amateurism”.
In conclusion, he warned: “Two immediate lessons emerge from this: France is back, only insofar bigger power structures allow it to be back. That is the harsh lesson of the Aukus partnership.
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“The other is one Macron should have learned from De Gaulle… and we have now seen it enacted by Australia.
“In international relations, there are no friends or permanent allies – There are only national interests.”
The Aukus deal saw Australia tear up a massive €31 billion diesel-powered submarine building contract with the French to pursue the means to produce nuclear submarines with the help of US technology under the new Aukus pact.
It is one of Australia’s biggest defence partnerships in decades and intends to counter growing Chinese military power analysts say, but China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race”.