President Biden’s announcement that the United States and Britain would assist Australia in deploying nuclear submarines in the South China Sea has angered France and prompted mixed reactions from the US and Europe to a confrontation with China.
The deal aims to strengthen and renew the alliance as strategic priorities change. But in approaching his Pacific ally to meet China’s challenge, Biden appears to have alienated a key European ally and soured already strained relations with Beijing.
France reacted angrily to the deal, the US announcing the country just hours earlier. It is also a business case for closing a $66 billion deal to buy French submarines for Australia. French officials described France’s exclusion from the partnership as a moment that would widen the already widening gap between the old allies.
In response, France canceled a Washington holiday in honor of US-French cooperation in the War of Independence.
Worth noting: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the submarine deal was a “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision” by the United States. He compared the US move to the sudden and abrupt change in policy during the Trump administration.
Analysis: The deal reflects Australia’s strategic condition that the United States will compete with the great powers with China and remain the dominant and stable power in the Pacific.
Afghan refugees at a stalemate
Weeks after fleeing Kabul, thousands of Afghans trying to settle in the US remain on military bases both at home and abroad as medical and security checks slow the process. The small but worrying measles epidemic contributed to the delay.
While the evacuated Afghans have fled the Taliban, their lives are hopeless, with troubled children and little to do at military bases. About 100 Americans agreed to leave and a number of Afghans at risk are still in Afghanistan.
The inspection followed a shortened and accelerated evacuation effort. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken defended the operation in testimony to Congress this week. Republican critics have called for his resignation because Biden’s government failed to plot the overthrow of the Afghan government by the Taliban.
In numbers: As of Tuesday, about 64,000 people had come to the United States from Afghanistan, about 49,000 of whom live at eight domestic military bases. About 18,000 are based abroad, mainly in Germany. Some will go away within a few weeks, but most will take longer.
Remittances: Our journalists have visited rural Afghanistan where remnants of war are everywhere. But for the first time in years, filming stopped.