How Jack Sullivan Screwed Up The U.S. Relations With France

After reporters in a news room have written up a story it goes to editors who check it, provide a headline and often also rewrite the opening paragraph(s). The piece then  gets published.

That process at times leads to headlines and/or opening paragraphs that contradict the rest of the story. This can happen because the editor is in a rush and has not had the time to really digest a story. At other times it happens because the editor lets his personal political leaning, or a special preference for an involved person, shine through.

This seems to be the case with a New York Times story about the U.S. induced Australian cancelling of a deal to buy French submarines.

The United States says it gave France only a few hours’ notice of defense deal that Paris called a ‘knife in the back.’
By Michael D. Shear and Roger Cohen

The United States acknowledged on Thursday that it only gave France a few hours’ notice of its deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, a move that French officials have denounced as a major betrayal by one of its closest allies.

After the headline and the first paragraph any reader will assume that the U.S. indeed informed France a few hours before the deal became public.

That however is an outright as paragraph 11 and 12 of the very same piece provide:

Philippe Étienne, the French ambassador to the United States and the host of the party, said on Thursday that he learned about the deal from news reports, followed by a call from Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to Mr. Biden.

A senior American official said that the Biden administration had made efforts to inform the French government about the president’s announcement earlier Wednesday morning, but had been unable to schedule the discussions with their French counterparts before the news reports appeared online.

The U.S. did not “says it gave France only a few hours’ notice”. The U.S. did not “acknowledged on Thursday that it only gave France a few hours’ notice of its deal”.

The U.S. did the opposite of what the headline and opening graph of the NYT story claim.

“A senior American official” acknowledged that the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan screwed up and informed France only after Politico published the first report on the deal on Wednesday September 15 at 8:55 am.

Sullivan in fact avoided to tell France about the deal as a separate NYT piece by Roger Cohen provides:

France said it had not been consulted on the deal. “We heard about it yesterday,” Ms. Parly told RFI radio.

The Biden administration said it had not told French leaders beforehand, because it was clear that they would be unhappy with the deal.

The administration decided that it was up to Australia to choose whether to tell Paris, said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to address the matter publicly.

Jake Sullivan screwed up. He was too coward to tell the French about the truck that would soon hit them. It was in fact likely he who ‘leaked’ the news to Politico before it was made official.

Lets remember that Sullivan’s most recent big task, the coordination of the State and Defense Departments during the retreat from Afghanistan, also turned into a gigantic screw up.

France is deeply disappointed, not only about the deal itself but about how it was handled. It will seek revenge for that betrayal.

Sullivan’s involvement in the Australia deal has an interesting side note.

The Lowy Institute is …

… at the centre of Australia’s foreign policy and national security debates. Every prime minister and foreign minister since 2003, when the Institute was founded, has spoken at the Lowy Institute. Our annual poll of Australian public opinion is cited around the world, our experts are sought out by the Australian media for commentary on breaking events, and our research – including our flagship Lowy Institute Papers, published by Penguin – helps set the national agenda.

As one of its ‘experts’ the Lowy Institute lists one Jake Sullivan as its “2017 Telstra Distinguished International Fellow”.

Sullivan has only held one speech for the institute and wrote one lazy article for its website. One wonders how much he was paid for that ‘fellow’ gig. Whatever that was it made sure that some Australian insiders will have his number on speed dial.

The speech, held in June 2017, is to a large part about Trump’s Asia policies. But it has significant bits about Sullivan’s view on China and Australia:

Amidst this discussion of the U.S.-China relationship, let’s not forget that where China is headed at home remains a very real question mark.

And let’s also not forget the role of the rest of the region in responding to China’s rise. Do they essentially accommodate, or do they seek to work together, drawing in the United States to provide a durable counterweight?

I expect over time that our friends and partners in the region will become increasingly concerned about the possibility of a 19th-century-style sphere of influence in Asia, in which China slowly nudges the United States out and consolidates its power and influence in a way that will ultimately force regional countries to supplicate.

The erosion of our alliances would strike a brutal blow against American leadership in Asia. We should be doubling down on our alliances, making them more dynamic to face the threats and challenges of the 21st century.

Now, I should emphasize that this question of the future of a values-based community in Asia, doesn’t turn on U.S. policy alone. It also turns on whether our allies — our partners who share values of openness, democracy, and human rights — countries like Australia and Japan and Korea — step up and lead in defence of these values. I hope we will see more of that in the period ahead.

America has a remarkable capacity for reinvention and self-correction. There is still a strong foundation of support, in both political parties, for an active, engaged, dynamic role in the Asia-Pacific. And, I believe, there is still a strong demand signal in the region.

We’ve been in tight spots before. And we’ve come out the other side stronger and more dynamic. I believe that we will do so again.

And when we do, I know that we can continue to count on a vibrant alliance with Australia, working with confidence and common purpose toward a shared future.

The now announced increased deployments of U.S. military assets to Australia fits right into Sullivan’s plans.

Australia will pay for the ‘privilege’ of thereby becoming a Chinese missile target by buying overpriced U.S. weapons.

That is how the world, from the view of U.S. empire minions like Sullivan, is supposed to be.