France 'could join AUKUS' in a few years says Shields
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Speaking to Express.co.uk, James Shields, Professor of French politics at Warwick University, explained that due to the various global challenges faced by Emmanuel Macron, France may end up joining the Aukus partnership, the very security pact that France was snubbed from by Australia, the UK and the USA. He claimed this is because President Macron is aware France “cannot go it alone” on the world stage.
Professor Shields argued that Emmanuel Macron’s demands for an EU defence capability, aka an EU ‘army’, has always been a clear sign of his awareness of France’s inability to defend itself alone.
He pointed to how demands for such a defence capability also come as a result of France, over the decades, always feeling an “uncomfortable member of NATO”.
But he stressed how President Macron is “a thousands miles from achieving an EU defence and security capability” despite his desires for a formation.
Despite this, the French expert went further into the issue of defence as he drew on Operation Barkhane, the French-led military operation in central and west Africa spanning the Sahel region, which aims to oust terrorism from Mali to Niger and Mauritania, all former French colonies.
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Professor Shields stressed the Sahel conflict is another prime example of how France have lost their independent military capability and as a result seek the assistance of others.
He stressed: “Americans, British, Estonians, and other military forces are lending France support either in military engagements, around the margins or in intelligence gathering.
“So Macron sees even from that limited sphere of conflict that France go it alone even there – never mind in the South China Sea or in a bigger platform!”
The expert went on to say how President Macron’s reliance on other nations for support in The Sahel is his acknowledgment that “he understands the old idea that France can go it alone”.
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He added how now the question is “finding the partnership that works for France” in this new world of military challenges and changing alliances and Aukus may not be out of reach just yet.
Professor Shields said: “That [EU army] is his idea, that’s his dream. But in the meantime he’s got to look at NATO, he’s got to look at Aukus. He must feel that France belongs in Aukus.”
But in a surprising revelation the professor speculated how “further down the track” France could in fact join Aukus.
He went as far as to say “I don’t think it is formed to exclude France” adding “my guess would be that this is a theatre of cooperation” and that “Macron would feel that France should fit eventually”.
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He concluded as a result, in the absence of an EU defence capability, Aukus would seem ”a natural locus” for France to lend its military support to.
The Aukus deal saw Australia tear up the multi-billion dollar diesel-powered submarine deal and instead pursue the means to produce their own nuclear submarines with the help of US technology including advanced Artificial Intelligence and digital capabilities.
Aukus is one of Australia’s biggest defence partnerships in decades and intends to counter growing Chinese military power, analysts say. But following the announcement, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the pact “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race”.
While UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the pact would “preserve security and stability around the world” and generate “hundreds of high-skilled jobs”. He stressed how the UK’s relationship with France was “rock solid” despite the brutal snub.
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