The French media was elated when U.S. President Joe Biden picked Antony Blinken as his Secretary of State. Headlines all over the country read, “Francophone Blinken has become the U.S.’s foreign minister.” In French diplomacy circles, the word was that “Francophile Blinken” would be a significant bridge between Paris and Washington because of the serious injuries sustained to the relationship during the Trump era. Everyone thought that Blinken would assume an extremely beneficial role indeed, in the sense that he would turn over a new leaf between the two allies. During his first visit to France, the French all but rolled out the red carpet for the new U.S. Secretary of State.
Blinken, who speaks French fluently, stayed quite a long while in France when his mother remarried at the beginning of the ‘70s. His stepfather Samuel Pisar was a writer and lawyer famous both in the U.S. and in France. After graduating from Melbourne University, Pisar went on to scoop up doctorate degrees from Harvard and the Sorbonne. He is also one of the prominent figures of the American Jewish Congress and, at the same time, was John. F. Kennedy’s confidant and foreign economic adviser. Pisar was also very tight with French presidents François Mitterand and Valery Giscard d’Estaing. He was also the lawyer of media mogul Robert Maxwell, who died in 1991 when he fell into the sea from his private yacht in the Atlantic Ocean. Pisar is said to be one of the last persons to speak to Maxwell.
Samuel Pisar, who also has a good rapport with former U.S. President Barack Obama, was highly influential when it came to his stepson Blinken’s career. When Pisar passed away in 2015, Barack Obama was president, Joe Biden vice president, and Blinken was their deputy secretary of state.
Now, if we are to return to the present, the AUKUS Defense Pact” announced on Sept. 15 between the U.S., U.K. and Australia has caused a deep rift in relations between America and France. It has basically killed the agreement France struck with Australia in 2016. The pact, which was deemed the “Deal of the Century,” being annulled in this cut-throat manner is a right stab in the back, according to France.
France defines itself as an established power in the region because of New Caledonia and French Polynesia. That's why it couldn't stomach the fact that it had no say in the Indo-Pacific with the AUKUS Pact. The French island of Reunion was adjacent to Australia. In fact, the United States, France, and Australia were conducting joint patrols in the Pacific. Paris is furious for being taken for a fool by the U.S. So much so that Paris recalled its ambassador to Washington. This is a first in U.S.-France relations. Such a thing didn’t even happen in the Trump era, which was full of its own ups and downs.
Following the act, Biden tried to assuage French President Emmanuel Macron during a telephone call. After this call, Macron agreed to re-instate the French ambassador to Washington. Even if Biden has comforted Macron, who aspires to be “Little Napoleon, like a child, it is clear as day that the rage of the French public will not be alleviated any time soon. The French elections are due to take place in April 2022. Macron is unlikely to mend his reputation that was damaged by the AUKUS deal and, unless he retaliates against the U.S., the opposition will use this as a significant trump card against him in the elections.
At the end of October, Rome will play host to the G-20 Summit. Biden and Macron are expected to meet there. In this meeting, Macron wants to get Biden's guarantee to support Europe's autonomous defense. Meanwhile, France will assume the EU Presidency in January. If Macron does not get the commitment he expects from Biden, he will attempt to use the EU as leverage against the United States. France’s voice rings the loudest when it comes to discussing the establishment of a “European Army.” However, it is unlikely that the EU will clash with the U.S. as a bloc. Establishing a "Joint European Army" without the U.S. on board will not be easy as pie.
Last week, Blinken traveled to Paris for the Ministerial Council Meeting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). However, this time, “Francophile Blinken” was given the cold shoulder. There was a stark contrast between his previous welcome and this one, to say the least. His tête-à-tête with Macron was also a huge surprise, because there was nothing in his schedule about a meeting with the French president. Furthermore, it didn’t escape anyone’s attention that a joint press conference did not take place, although Blinken met with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.