The Submarines Bust up: What's The Feeling on The Street?

Published September 21st, 2021 - 09:23 GMT
The fight over submarines

ALBAWABA – The submarines deal cancellation row between France on the one hand and the US, Britain and Australia on the other is going down the social media street like wildfire. Frenchmen and Brits are at the throat of one another as if the deal would effect their day-to-day life. 

Historically there has been a love-hate relationship between the French and English. This is now galvanized in the latest row as Paris accuses Washington and London of signing a secret pact with Canberra to provide it with the technology to build nuclear submarines and thus bamboozling France's agreement with the Australian government in 2016 to supply it with submarines.

The French government is calling it a “stab-in-the-back”; and the Anglo-French street might just be having a field day as well. The French has been so upset they recalled their ambassadors in Washington and Canberra, supposedly for consultation but they didn’t do that with the French envoy to London. One would have thought he would be the first one to be recalled but no, he stayed put in his place. Is this good or bad one wonders? 

One suggests the Brits are junior partners in the deal that would mostly be provided by the United States. So Paris may have thought “let’s keep our ambassador there”, maybe for some influence on the Americans but others suggest otherwise. One is calling Britain the “fifth wheel on the carriage” which is unkind rather than insulting, however it might be both.

But there is no harm in that because everyone is talking about it and speculating. One Frenchman says the latest deal with the “Brits”, the “Yanks” and the “Aussies” is going to create a tidal wave as it is suggested by non-other than the writer when those submarines are built they would not be able to circumnavigate under the waters of New Zealand. Who would stop them it is to be wondered.

Some Britons are happy and “gloating” though ecstatic might be a stronger word for the British temperament that measures its psychological kick.

One may be reflective of a good section of the British public and are pleased with the government in London, says it’s about time the French noses got rubbed because they have been treating the UK very badly since the start of Brexit in 2016 and that this is the time for retaliation and to give them a “taste of their own medicine”.

What the French don’t like is the way the new AUKUS deal was hitched up – more or less behind their back, and Paris is angry because it has not been told beforehand. Before it is denied, the Americans have given a take on the issue. Political pundits in Washington say the new deal has been hitched to confront China in the Pacific which is showing aggressive tendencies to say the least.

Two things should be borne in mind hear. First, China rejects this assessment and says it is the West who are aggressive. In a sense, it is joining the French who are livid and wants the Americans and Brits to know they are angry.  

Second the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said and repeated that he told the French there are problems with the deal and the French needed to rectify it and if they didn’t Canberra would look elsewhere. So is  France over reacting? British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to calm things down and says anybody can join the AUKUS deal.

Is this true? The French aren't at all sure. This deal bust up has raised another issue that has been taken up by Paris which is trust and/or breach of trust raised by non-other than the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

He plainly said “there has been duplicity, there has been a major breach of trust. So it’s not ok between us, it’s not ok at all, it means there is a crisis.”

What this tells us also there is a difference in the character and personality of the French and British people. One puts it thus: When the French are not happy, they hit the streets, when Britons are unhappy they sit, watch TV and moan.


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