Why submarine sale row shows France must re-think its role in the world


After a phone conversation on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron appeared to have at least partly defused tensions over the new military pact between Australia, the UK and the US which entailed the cancellation of Australia’s purchase of 12 French submarines worth 56 billion euros. In this op-ed article, Mediapart’s international affairs specialist François Bougon argues that the diplomatic crisis of recent days should prompt a re-think of France’s global role and an end to the notion of its grandeur and exceptionalism, a heritage handed down from Charles de Gaulle.

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France is angry, and one man in particular has been thundering with rage. Last Saturday evening, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was given the mission of appearing on the evening news programme of public TV channel France 2 to play the ‘bad cop’ over Australia’s decision to abandon what had been dubbed “the contract of the century”.