Emmanuel Macron had given up this summer, long before the submarine crisis, to participate in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. The quarrel which has since arisen with the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia because of their three-way defense pact (Aukus), has not encouraged him to participate at a distance in the high mass of diplomacy. global, yet organized in “hybrid” mode This year.
A missed opportunity when France wants to be, as a good European, one of the champions of multilateralism, ready to defend a “third way”, in particular in the Indo-Pacific region.
With speckled foils, the first day of the UN General Assembly, Tuesday, September 21 in New York, gave an overview of the antagonistic visions of Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, even if both have stormed diplomacy.
The American president gave his first UN speech there since taking office. He worked to distance himself from his predecessor, Donald Trump, and his crusade against multilateral institutions. As for his Chinese counterpart, he himself had decided late to intervene from a distance, precisely after the formation of the Aukus alliance, which his country did not hesitate to denounce.
Biden’s good intentions compromised by the facts
Cooperation, development, investment, innovation, diplomacy, solidarity… In words, Joe Biden ticked all the boxes of a speech promoting multilateralism. Six months ago it would have earned him congratulations from many allied countries. Today, good intentions seem strongly compromised by the facts.
The Democratic President promoted, from the rostrum, a “Relentless diplomacy” and a defense of the club of liberal democracies, in the name of shared values. This speech is part of the continuity of all his speeches since his election, which are based on three revisions: that of the current priorities for America, that of its military commitments and that of relations with its allies.
On the first point, Joe Biden confirmed to the UN his commitment to the fight against the pandemic and global warming, a clear break with Donald Trump. On the second, he once again justified the withdrawal from Afghanistan – without going over the chaos of August – and proclaimed the end of the conflicts devoid of any achievable objective.
In addition, Joe Biden assured not “Wanting a new cold war and a world divided into rigid blocks”. For him, the use of arms must be “A solution of last resort, not of first resort”. One way to respond to the concerns of the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, of France and Europe, who are wary of his “confrontational” approach with Beijing. The hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Aukus alliance only confirmed that China was now at the heart of the United States’ strategic choices, even if it meant rushing their oldest partners.
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