The Australian Prime Minister has behaved very badly towards France. There is no question about his brutality and especially his duplicity. This behaviour cannot be attributed, it goes without saying, to all his compatriots. Only in primitive societies is the whole community punished for the fault of a single one. Voices such as that of Labour Kevin Rudd, one of the predecessors of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have risen to express themselves diametrically opposed to the decision to break the submarine contract with France.
The case is probably just beginning for Australia. It is not at all certain that a contract supply of nuclear-powered submarines – which will take many months, if not years, to develop – will ever be implemented. The Australian Prime Ministers are passing by and the Australian opinion is very anti-nuclear (NB: there is not even a nuclear industry for civilian use in the country) could assert itself. It will quickly understand what Kevin Rudd just pointed out, which is that an OTC contract at the expense of a traditional tender will not be in the best interests of the Australian taxpayer. Rather than consolidate its status as a regional power, Australia risks increasing its dependence and, instead of ensuring its security, contributing to even more exacerbated tensions in the entire Indo-Pacific region.
The breach of the Australian contract must be conducted on the French side in a dignified and « civilized » manner. To do otherwise would be an expression of weakness. If we feel even more than bitterness, it is above all to the United States – which has evidently « twisted the arm » of Canberra – that we must have the courage to say it unambiguously. Even if the situations are not the same, it is in this way – by resorting to arbitration in New York under the aegis of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) – that France and New Zealand proceeded in the late 1980s, to settle the civil dispute over the Rainbow Warrior case.
Australia and France are two states of the Indo-Pacific zone and it is in their long-term interests that they preserve their good neighbourly relations. The period of French nuclear tests in the region has now been over twenty-five years and a fruitful cooperation has developed between the two countries. The strategic partnership concluded between them in 2012 covers not only defence and security issues but also energy, transport, education, science, technology, environment, climate change, development assistance and cultural cooperation. Even then, the concept of « Indo-Pacific » was forged. In addition, there is a framework for cooperation with the European Union. Finally, France and Australia are part of the G20.
If the Queen of England remains formally the Head of State of Australia – which explains many Pavlovian reflexes down under -, Australia is for us more than a friendly country. We owe him a great deal of gratitude, as is the case with the United States. These historical references are ultimately the safeguards of our relations. More than 50,000 Australian soldiers from the First World War are buried on French soil. The courage and military value of the Australian fighters was decisive, especially in the battles of the Somme. Australia helped la France Libre fight the Vichy regime during the Second World War in the Pacific and the Middle East, particularly in Syria.
The Australian continent continues to fascinate us with its size, its potential, its incomparable nature, its multi-ethnic society, its passion for sport and outback. There is still a new frontier, perhaps even a last frontier, which makes us dream. The sacred mountain of Uluru for the Aboriginal population is a monolith known from all over the world which, beyond its ochre beauty, conceals the mysteries of the origins.
Nicole Kidman magnifies the spirit of adventure and resistance in the film Australia, released in 2008, which would have deserved a wider success in Europe. The historical backdrop of this fiction is the first bombing of Australia in 1941 by Japan in the city of Darwin located in the Northern Territory. The film could also have painted a fresco of Homeric battles along the more than 2000 km of the Great Barrier Reef in the Northeast. The attackers made massive use of submarines. The submarines, once again…