Australia Lets Kids Have “Friends Bubbles” if Parents Are Vaxxed

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Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), which went into lockdown mode this summer with draconian restrictions and even more draconian measures to punish violators, has just allowed young people to get together with two other friends. That is, if all of the provided conditions of such meetings are met.

The establishment of the so-called friends bubbles was announced on Tuesday by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as a reward for the improved vaccination rate throughout the state. The measure took effect at noon on September 21, and covers people aged 18 years and under who live in stay-at-home areas and the so-called areas of concern across NSW.

Young people, who were not allowed to socialize other than online, are now granted permission to chose two friends and visit each other’s homes “for play and activity” if the following conditions are in place, per the NSW government:

  • Each child is allowed to have two designated friends come to their house. These two friends must always be the same, creating a three-person “friends bubble”;
  • All people older than 18 years in all the households must be fully vaccinated;
  • The friends must reside within 5km of each other or in the same Local Government Area (LGA); and
  • If parents/carers are dropping children off, they must not stay to interact with other parents or carers.

While the new policy may seem to many in a free society as unacceptable government overreach, Premier Berejiklian saw the measure as an act of care and compassion. She said, “Parents and children have had a difficult few months, trying to balance both work, often from home, as well as home schooling,” adding, “This change will hopefully make a big difference for families during the school holidays and allow young children and teenagers to catch up and reconnect with their friends.”

Berejiklian failed to mention that it was her government that has kept children disconnected from each other for no legitimate reason while actually hurting their health and wellbeing. Australia, and NSW in particular, has seen a rapidly rising number of mental disorders and suicides among all demographics, with a disturbing number of young people taking their lives during the lockdowns. It has been reported that children as young as five are being treated for anxiety.

Two top NSW government officials overseeing healthcare and education praised the premier’s move as a kind and wise gesture.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard noted that the government tried hard in balancing “between the best possible health outcomes, whilst easing the pressures on families and individuals living in lockdown.” Many would disagree, arguing that the “best possible health outcomes” would be achieved if the lockdowns were lifted altogether. After all, the experience of Sweden, which has never imposed lockdowns on its people and now sees zero COVID deaths, may be considered as an inspiring example in approaching the pandemic. But NSW and other Australian states are evidently choosing a completely different path.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Sarah Mitchell claimed the “friends bubbles” will also benefit older students, allowing them to create a “study bubble” ahead of tests for their high-school graduation.

Neither of the officials expressed a concern that children of the unvaccinated parents would be excluded from the new rule.

Local media reports that NSW children met the news with excitement. One said, “It’s been very hard because since we’ve been in lockdown all school term, we haven’t been able to hang out and see all our school friends in person.” Others remarked on how sad it was to only be able to see their friends’ faces on a computer screen. Now, the “friends bubbles” will give them a chance to finally see their pals in person — well, at least a couple of them.

Australian outlet for parents Mamamia, however, pointed out the new policy comes with many caveats.

Some of the parents said they felt “awkward” that they would have to inquire about the vaccination status of other parents.

Others stated that the whole idea of rating friends goes against their belief of inclusivity and equality. One of the mothers stated: “We avoid language such as best/second best friend, and always try to be as inclusive as possible. I’m just not going to ask my children to rank their friends,” while adding that she is not at all comfortable with many of the children being left out and will not be participating in or creating any “bubbles.”

Also, while many of the children have playdates booked all week, the others don’t see anyone because all of their friends are busy seeing somebody else. Some of the friends don’t live in the same LGA. Some have unvaccinated or partially vaccinated parents. Some of the children are being rejected because they are not “popular enough.” In the end, for many children and their families, the “well-intended” measure has turned into an additional stressor.

The “friends bubble” policy comes as a part of the lifted lockdown restrictions announced earlier this week in preparation for NSW’s so-called Freedom Day, when the state reaches a 70-percent vaccination rate, and all vaccinated Aussies will be allowed to return back to normal. The Orwellian “Freedom Day” is predicted to come October 18.  

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Ben Roback: AUKUS shows that delivering ‘global Britain’ creates losers as well as winners

Ben Roback is Head of Trade and International Policy at Cicero Group.

It has been a busy month for geopolitical analysts. Rarely does the world slow down, but a sluggish summer has turned into a busy autumn.

Joe Biden abandoned his globalist heritage and pulled the United States out of Afghanistan, taking the western coalition with him by default. Kabul fell and a once nascent democracy is now run by a terrorist organisation that diversity groups have been surprised to learn is clamping down on women’s rights.

The announcement of AUKUS – Australia, UK, USA – pulled the rug from the Five Eyes network and questioned the relevance of Canada and New Zealand, although Auckland frequently gives Beijing the benefit of the doubt to the frustration of the other four Eyes. France reacted with unprecedented fury, but in a bruising re-election campaign it was perhaps not surprising to see Emmanuel Macron lash out.

Energy politics has created a new frontier for international diplomacy, as ministers in Western Europe rush to warn their citizens that the lights won’t be going out any time soon. Raging wholesale gas prices have once again reminded continental Europe that hard politics often begins first with raw materials and natural power.

“Global Britain” creates winners and losers

At the United Nations, all of these factors are coming together. It is a good week to be Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan. From Downing Street’s perspective, it is a fresh chance to plant the Union Jack on the world stage and prove that “Global Britain” is more than just a strapline.

Johnson and Biden met yesterday in the White House, where the expected back-slapping bonhomie was missing owing to the Biden administration’s ongoing insistence on mask wearing.

There was plenty for the two men to discuss, chiefly the AUKUS trilateral, a fledgling US-UK FTA, Covid-19, and COP26. Although AUKUS featured only briefly in Downing Street’s published remarks, the newly minted partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States loomed large over the meeting.

It followed last week’s announcement in the East Room of the White House, where the President and Prime Ministers Johnson and Morrison announced the creation of a new trilateral grouping, “AUKUS”. It lacked the zip or panache of a “G7” or “Five Eyes”. Presumably “Bojo, ScoMo & Joe” was vetoed. The announcement proved the joint opportunity and challenge ahead for “Global Britain” – picking winners (in this case Australia and the United States) which results in losers (France).

“AUKUS: a partnership where our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defense forces are all working together to deliver a safer and more secure region that ultimately benefits all”, Morrison described. In the first instance, a signed agreement that would deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia.

The Australians “intend” to build these submarines in Adelaide, but from a British perspective there is a clear appeal given our own expertise in the field. After all, the Royal Navy launched our first nuclear submarine in the UK over 60 years ago, and the domestic manufacturing and skills base have never looked back since. Johnson’s remarks therefore turned quickly turned to the hundreds of highly skilled jobs that could be created across the UK.

From an international perspective, the three leaders were guarded about the rationale behind AUKUS. The “Indo-Pacific” was mentioned a dozen times in the shared remarks. China? Not once. But when world leaders talk about “threats in the Indo-Pacific region”, they mean Beijing’s expansionist tendencies.

China’s growing defence capability has caused grave concern in democratic capitals for decades. The 2020 Department of Defense’s China Military Report describes PRC as having the largest navy in the world. It has more ships than the United States, is the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage, and is increasing its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes.

AUKUS proved that geography matters in international politics. The UK has the domestic expertise to help provide the naval capacity the Australians need given their nautical proximity to China and Beijing’s ‘freedom of navigation’ missions. The US retains a clear interest in supporting measures to push Beijing back. Europe was simply a geographic and therefore political afterthought.

Whilst it was a bad week for Macron, who recalled France’s ambassador the United States for the first time in 243 years, AUKUS is a telling reflection of where international priorities lie for the Biden administration. International trade is viewed through the prism of reshoring jobs back to the United States, whilst the major international priorities are climate change and combatting the rise of China.

If the President was taking his international obligations more seriously, he would speed up the excruciatingly sluggish pace at which the White House is nominating ambassadors to supposedly key posts. The US still has no confirmed ambassador in Paris or London, at NATO or at the EU. It is unlikely that an approved ambassador would have changed the course of AUKUS events, but with more informed ears on the ground, Washington might have been better prepared for the fallout.

The AUKUS announcement has shifted the geopolitical sands further, whilst the dust has still far from settled in Afghanistan. Biden was supposed to bring a sense of calm and normality back to international policy, but he has become wildly unpredictable. In this instance, Macron’s loss was Johnson and Morrison’s gain.

In London, the Prime Minister has shown that “Global Britain” and “Levelling Up” can be delivered hand in hand. But just as the motivation for AUKUS was geographic proximity and Australia’s concern about a noisy neighbour, there are dozens of issues at home which rely on cooperation between the UK and France. The small boats carrying illegal immigrants from French shores to Britain’s is the Home Office’s top priority and said to be an increasing imperative for Johnson. Any solution will require increased collaboration between the UK and France just at the time when Paris is apoplectic with London.

Global Britain can be a guiding light for the United Kingdom, bold and brave outside of the EU, but the challenge becomes how to manage the winners and losers it creates.

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US Says Planned Meeting With European Nations Including France Was Canceled Due to Scheduling Issues

A meeting between leaders from the United States, France, and other European nations that was set to take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York has been cancelled due to scheduling issues, according to a senior State Department official.

The transatlantic Quad meeting between the United States, France, Germany, and the UK was scheduled to take place on Tuesday alongside the 76th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

In a Tuesday briefing with Senior State Department Officials On U.S. Engagements at the United Nations, a senior State Department official told reporters that schedules had prevented the meeting from going ahead.

“We did have a Quad at my level today,” the state official said. “I think that schedules got in the way of that at the ministerial level, but a lot of those countries are going to see each other in other formats both at the … the G-20 meeting and at least the P3 [permanent members meeting] will all be part of the secretary-general’s P5 meeting tomorrow night.”

The state official noted that he expects U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will “have a chance to exchange views at some point over the course of the week.”

The cancelled meeting was one of the three planned get-togethers that would bring together Blinken and Le Drian, among other countries’ representatives, for the first time since a diplomatic spat between the United States and France.

France has berated the United States for negotiating a security pact in secret with Australia and Britain that would help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, and cost Paris a lucrative defense deal.

Australia says the United States’ offer of access to U.S. nuclear technology to build nuclear-propelled submarines was too good to refuse.

Previously, Australia struck a $65 billion deal with France to provide subs in a security agreement in the Asia–Pacific region. France said it was now assessing all options in response to Australia’s scrapping of the billion-dollar submarine contract, with officials noting that they learned about the new agreement between the United States and the U.K just hours before it went public.

The move prompted France to withdraw its ambassadors from Australia and the United States and cancel a planned gala in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile Germany, France’s biggest EU ally, has rallied behind it, saying Washington and Canberra had damaged trust between allies that would be difficult to rebuild.

The official did not state whether or not the cancelled meeting was due to the recent tensions between the U.S. and France.


Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.

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Australian UN Reporter Was “Startled” by Biden Press Team Strictly Ushering Journos out of the Room – RedState

President Joe Biden addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday and the foreign press was treated to a common occurrence here in the states. Biden did not stop to take questions, but more than that, his press team seemed to aggressively usher the press out of the room in order to avoid Biden having to do it.

According to National Review, French reporter Kethevane Gorjestani “was asked by a very startled Australian reporter whether WH wranglers were always so strict about ushering the pool out without questions,” after Biden publicly met with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.

To answer the reporter’s question, it depends on the President, but with this one, the answer is yes. One of the things Biden will go down in history for is the President who rarely, if ever, took questions. As Sister Toldjah recently covered, our own media is becoming increasingly frustrated with Biden’s lack of communication with the people and his press secretary, Jen Psaki, continuing to make excuses for it. This is especially being highlighted with the border crisis surging into overdrive.

Biden’s appearance and swift disappearance at the U.N. was said to happen beforehand because the gathering would be a “super spreader event.”

What it really is, as Americans have surmised, is a way to keep Biden from saying anything that would make the Democrat party have to go into damage control mode over. Biden himself has said that he’s been instructed not to take questions on multiple occasions or instructed to take questions from only certain reporters.

Funny enough, this isn’t the first time Australians have been taken aback by the Biden administration’s interactions with the media. In June, Australia’s Sky News saw several commentators noting how “appalling” it was to watch the American media simpering and fawning over Biden’s appearance at the G7 summit as if he could do no wrong when they had previously slammed President Donald Trump over everything as if he could do no right.

(READ: “Appalling to Watch”: Australian Media Tears American Media Apart Over Its Fawning Over Biden)


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WATCH: The AUKUS deal “is not exclusionary or adversarial towards anybody”, says Johnson

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Olivier Guitta: Biden’s decision to snub France will weaken, not embolden, the U.S. in its dealings with China

Olivier Guitta is the Managing Director of GlobalStrat, a security and geopolitical risk consulting company for companies and governments.

On September 16 President Emmanuel Macron announced that French forces had killed Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the emir of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, in Mali.

Coincidentally, al-Sahrawi had been at the top of the U.S. wanted list for murdering American Special forces in Niger in 2017. So, it is quite ironic that on the same day U.S. President Joe Biden back-stabbed France by announcing a defence alliance with Australia and the UK that included taking away from Paris the contract of the century.

France had signed in 2016 a deal worth $66 billion to supply 12 diesel-powered submarines to Australia. As late as August 30 both countries’ leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the submarine programme. This while Australia had been negotiating since at least March with the UK and the U.S. on getting a deal for nuclear-powered submarines.

It was a deal so secret and so controversial that reportedly only 10 people in the British government knew about it. The project was almost finalised at the G7 meeting in England in June under the nose of Macron while he was cosying up to Biden.

The Biden administration blindsided France, which accused top U.S. officials of hiding information about the deal despite repeated attempts by French diplomats to know what was going on. French diplomats said they first learned of the deal when news leaked in Australian media hours before the official announcement on Wednesday.

Expressing his fury for not only the cancellation of the deal but the handling of the announcement and the non-consulting of France, Macron immediately recalled its ambassadors in Washington and Canberra.

It is quite telling that this is the first time ever happened that France recalled its ambassador to the U.S., showing the seriousness of the diplomatic crisis. Interestingly enough, even Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said he understood Paris’ fury to be cut out from the alliance.

Things could have gone down way differently: If technology was the problem, why did the Australians not talk to the French about it since, incidentally, France also has nuclear-powered submarines?

We are not talking here about $60 million or $600 million or even $6 billion but about $66 billion. There was surely a way to find a consensus between the four allies, even when bringing to the table the U.S. and the UK, like splitting the contract in three.

In fact, the bigger picture is even more important than the huge defence contact since this AUKUS alliance, as it is called, is all about standing up to China. It is quite ironic that Biden has pushed away France from that alliance since in the past few months Paris has been one of the most sanguine to oppose China’s influence in the region.

Indeed, back in March, China complained about the French military’s activities in the disputed South China Sea, after it sent two warships there. In April, these ships took part in a three-day military exercise with the four members of the Quad alliance- Japan, India, Australia and the U.S.

That’s not all: France, that has several territories in the Pacific, has committed to helping Japan on the military and security level, i.e., protecting against China. Indeed, when Macron visited Japan during the Tokyo Olympics, Prime Minister Suga said he welcomed French plans to build on regional cooperation by boosting Paris’ efforts to “reinforce its strategic orientation, presence and actions in the Indo-Pacific in order to contribute to security, stability and sustainable development in the region.”

In light of this, Biden’s decision to snub France is another major faux-pas that is basically undermining his plan for an anti-China front. This hasn’t escaped Beijing that while officially very angry about the deal denouncing it, China might turn out to be the ultimate winner since it has de facto possibly broken the French resolve to side with the US against Beijing. Indeed, Macron said that France might narrow its focus to concentrate on its specific Indo-Pacific interests, rather than working to push back against China more broadly.

Biden, who wanted to break off from his predecessor when it came to trans-Atlantic relations, has missed yet another opportunity to do so with the AUKUS alliance. His potential anti-China front has been definitely undercut and ironically only of his own doing.

Including France in the alliance would have been wise to repair a deteriorating relationship with Europe that has witnessed the huge historical debacle in Afghanistan, the de facto approval of the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. Biden has in just eight months lost all of his credibility in European capitals, not a small feat indeed.

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Elderly Woman Thrown to Ground by Police, Construction Workers Attack Union Office – RedState

We reported yesterday on some of the continuing craziness coming out of Australia in regard to COVID lockdowns and restrictions. There was a big anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne during which police began pepper spraying the crowd and then the crowd stampeded right over them.

Several police officers were injured and 235 people were arrested which is a huge amount. Most of the arrests were for breaking “health restrictions.”

Now we have more video showing how out of hand it got — with police targeting journalists with pepper spray and even throwing an elderly woman who wasn’t threatening them in any way to the ground. Then two cops pepper-sprayed her right in the face as she lay on the ground hurt and unable to defend herself. You can see the old woman in red being thrown to the ground on this video.

Other cops did come to help her later but that whole action was just wrong, as was spraying and appearing to target the journalists who were the only folks within range of the police at that moment on the video.

There was more violence and craziness when construction workers protested their own union, CFMEU, for not standing up for them against mandatory vaccination requirements to be able to work. They’re required to have at least one shot by Thursday.

Warning for graphic language:

Then it got crazy.

Police came out and shot at the workers, allegedly with rubber bullets.

Now, the premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews, is going to punish the construction workers for resisting. They are shutting down the construction industry for two weeks, according to The Age. If you resist, the government will make sure you don’t work.

From The Age:

Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas said the decision had been driven by multiple outbreaks linked to the industry, as well as “widespread non-compliance” with COVID safety rules.

“We put the industry on notice just a week ago, we have seen appalling behaviour on site and on our streets, and now we’re acting decisively and without hesitation,” he said in a statement.

So this is how they will try to force compliance. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to work.

Wasn’t Australia once a free society? Not so much anymore.

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AUKUS and the Indo-Pacific. A tilt to it, yes. A lunge, no.

In a chapter of their book on Britain’s defence capability, White Flag, our proprietor and Isabel Oakeshott describe “Operation Tethered Goat”.  It sets how in the event of a Russian incursion a small NATO force would attempt to defend a 65-mile stretch of the Polish-Lithuanian border “straddled ominously by Kaliningrad to the west and the Russian satrapy of Belarus on the east.”

“If Russia were to attempt to close the gap, NATO’s only option would be to punch north with the US-led brigade based here. Until then, it would be up to the Baltic states to hold their ground, supported by small detachments of NATO forces stationed inside their borders.

“One of those forces would be headed by a small but fierce battalion of UK troops stationed in Tapa, Estonia. Some 800 troops from the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh are here, supported by smaller deployments from other member states”.  The isolation and vulnerability of our troops gives rise to the operation’s grim nickname.

This is the background against which to see the Americo-British-Australian deal over nuclear-powered submarines, the wounded reaction of France, and the new security pact between the two countries: AUKUS.

Further war in eastern Europe is relatively unlikely, for all the recent tangle between Russia and Ukraine.  But were it to happen, it would directly affect Britain and the alliance on which our security has depended for the best part of three-quarters of a century: NATO.  It would be war in our back yard.

Conflict in the South China is perhaps more likely, but would affect the UK less directly.  We wouldn’t be bound by our NATO obligations to participate.  And whatever may be said of the South China Sea, it is not in our neighbourhood.

None of which is to say that either the new deal or the pact is a bad thing.  Their core for us is the transfer of material – including in “cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and undersea capabilities”, as Boris Johnson put it last week – not that of troops, for all the recent journey of the Carrier Strike Group to the South China Sea.

As he went on to say, “this project will create hundreds of highly skilled jobs across the UK, including in Scotland, the north of England and the midlands,” including perhaps the Red Wall-ish areas of Barrow and Derby.

The deal also shows how fast time moves and frail attention spans can be.  Only a month ago, Joe Biden’s sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan raised the prospect of an isolationist America withdrawing into itself.  Any prudent British government should be alert to the possibility and what it could mean for the future of Europe.

AUKUS is a sign that, whatever else might happen elsewhere, the United States is commited to the Indo-Pacific and that, as in Afghanistan, there is continuity between what Donald Trump did and what Biden is doing.

There has been a startling shift there in attitudes to America within the last five years or so – just as there has been one here since David Cameron declared a new “golden age” in Anglo-Sino relations.  That was before Brexit.  Of which there is a point to be made about the pact and the deal.

In the wake of Biden’s Afghanistan decision, Remain obsessives raised our exit from the EU, suggesting that it was responsible for Johnson failing to persuade Biden to delay the withdrawal, because Washington no longer listens to us.

Never mind that Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel took much the same position.  The boot is now on the other foot.  Some of our fellow Leavers argue that were it not for Brexit, Britain would never have abandoned France for America and Australia – just as, were it not for our exit from the EU, the Government wouldn’t have summoned up the nerve to get on with our own Covid vaccine programme.

Like other counter-factuals, this one is unprovable.  And the lure of new jobs, plus the tug of Anglo-American and Anglo-Australian relations, might have been enough to lure some other Prime Minister in an EU member Britain to make the same decision.

What can safely be said is that our relationship with America carries on as before, regardless of Brexit, and that Britain remains a member of the UN Security Council, the G7, NATO, the Commonwealth, and is one of Europe’s two armed powers, a top five aid donor, and in the top ten influential nations list on any reckoning.  All of which Leavers spelt out during the referendum campaign.

The Global Britain slogan has been ridiculed but, whatever one’s view of leaving the EU, it touches on a fundamental reality which AUKUS, that G7 membership, that Security Council presence and all the rest of it helps to illustrate.

Liz Truss is straight out the traps banging that drum, but it is worth pondering Global Britain, as suits that spherical image, in the round.  Europe is part of the globe.  It is a lot closer to us than Australia, if not in kinship than at least in distance.  And, as we have seen, a conflict in our continental hinterland would disturb us more immediately than one in an Asian sea.

Which takes us to France, and an entente that at present isn’t all that cordiale.  It’s scarcely unknown for Macron to withdraw its ambassadors when piqued: in recent years, they were brought home from Italy and Turkey.

But he will be very bruised, not least because the deal and the pact seem to have been firmed up in private between the three powers during the recent G7, while he was talking up France’s relationship with America (plus its interests in the Indo-Pacific), and taking potshots at Britain over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The real-life cast of The Bureau – i.e: the French intelligence services – may have been asleep on the job, and there is certain to be an inquest.  British crowing at the Gallic cockerel’s embarrassment is inevitable.

But while your own neighbour next door may eventually move out, France won’t be going anywhere, and it isn’t in our interest for this complex relationship to cool further.  France is our only major military partner in Europe (and elsewhere: see Mali), a top five trading one, home to up to 400,000 Brits, the source of most of those channel boats, and tortously intertwined with our culture and history.

Nord 2 has brought Germany closer to Putin’s orbit.  The former’s election takes place soon.  Whatever the result, France will feel the tug from Germany, as will the whole EU.  We don’t want to see the latter plump itself up as a potential rival to NATO.  But it would help us, America, and Europe itself for our neighbours – bearing that Russian presence in mind – to spend more on defence.

Their unwillingness to do so (Mark Francois recently set out the figures on this site), Germany’s passivity and a certain strain in French thinking suggests a drift into the Russian orbit.

De Gaulle’s ambivalence about the old Soviet Union, on which he blew cool post-war and warmer later on, had its roots in a French cultural antagonism to America and periods of alliance with Russia.  The ghost of the General will believe that AUKUS proves him right: that when push comes to shove, Britain will always throw its lot in with its American cousins.

We should turn a new page with France, or at least try to  – and remember that while a tilt to the Indo-Pacific is a one thing, a lunge there would be quite another.  Putin hasn’t “gone away, you know”. And Islamist extremism hasn’t, either.

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French President Emmanuel Macron to speak with Biden about Australian deal

French President Emmanuel Macron will speak to President Biden in the next few days about the diplomatic flap between Paris and Washington following the submarine deal with Australia, a French government spokesman said Sunday. 

Biden initiated the phone call, spokesman Gabriel Attal said during an interview with French news outlet BFMTV. 

The Biden administration last week announced a deal to sell nuclear submarines to Australia as part of a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with Britain and Australia, scuttling a 2016 contract with France to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines. 

​Instead, Australia signed an agreement with the US and Britain to build eight nuclear-powered submarines.

​France insisted that it was not informed of the trilateral deal and on Friday recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia over the “grave crisis.”

President Biden announced on September 15, 2021 that he plans on selling nuclear submarines to Australia as per a deal with Australia and Britain.
POIS Yuri Ramsey/Australian Defence Force via Getty Images
According to the agreement, the US along with Britain would help Australia build eight nuclear-powered submarines.
According to the agreement, the US along with Britain would help Australia build eight nuclear-powered submarines.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Attal said Macron wanted “clarification” over cutting France out of the submarine order. 

“What’s at play in this affair, this crisis … are strategic issues before being commercial issues. The question is … the forces present, the balance, in the Indo-Pacific where part of our future is at play, and our relations with China​,” Attal said in the interview.​​

The agreement marks the Biden administration​’s focus on the Indo-Pacific region amid China expanding its influence in the region.​

According to the French Government, President Emmanuel Macron (left) had no idea the agreement had been made.
According to the French Government, President Emmanuel Macron (left) had no idea the agreement had been made.
Joe Biden
By signing this new agreement, Biden has
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Australia on Sunday defended entering the deal with the US and Britain and said it informed Paris of the talks. ​

“I don’t regret the decision to put Australia’s national interest first,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said​.​

“This is an issue that had been raised by me directly some months ago and we continued to talk those issues through, including by defense ministers and others,” he ​said​.

With Post Wires​​

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Australia Defends Scrapping of French Submarine Deal; Macron and Biden to Talk

SYDNEY—Australia on Sunday defended its decision to ditch a multi-billion-dollar order for French submarines and opt instead for an alternative deal with the United States and Britain, saying it had flagged its concerns to Paris months ago.

Canberra’s move triggered an unprecedented diplomatic crisis that analysts say could do lasting damage to U.S. alliances with France and Europe. It has also riled China, the major rising power in the Indo–Pacific region.

A French government spokesman said on Sunday that President Emmanuel Macron would have a call with U.S. President Joe Biden “in the next few days.” Paris has recalled its envoys to Washington and Canberra for consultations.

“I don’t regret the decision to put Australia’s national interest first,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday.

Morrison said he understood France’s disappointment over the cancellation of the order—valued at $40 billion in 2016 and reckoned to cost much more today—but reiterated that Australia must always take decisions in its best interests.

“This is an issue that had been raised by me directly some months ago and we continued to talk those issues through, including by defense ministers and others,” he told a briefing.

Under its new trilateral security partnership, Australia will build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. and British technology. The scrapped deal, struck with France’s Naval Group in 2016, was for a fleet of conventional submarines.

The new trilateral deal has cast into doubt the united front that Biden is seeking to forge against China’s growing power.

‘Open and Honest’

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFM TV that Macron would seek “clarification” of the cancellation in his call with Biden. Discussions would then need to take place over contract clauses, notably compensation for the French side.

Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said Canberra was “upfront, open and honest” with France about its concerns. He declined to reveal costs of the new pact, saying only that “it’s not going to be a cheap project.”

Britain’s role in the trilateral partnership demonstrates its readiness to be “hard-headed” in defending its interests post-Brexit, newly appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in an article published on Sunday.

She said it also showed Britain’s commitment to security and stability in the Indo–Pacific region.

By Lidia Kelly and John Mair


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