Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The French View of the Pacific

Many of our NATO allies have their own concerns in the Pacific independent of the USA's, with significant territorial possessions and economic interests from the African Indian Ocean coast to the Eastern Pacific. When they do good and responsible activities there, we get a nice secondary security benefit.

France always seems to want to have an outsized presence on the international scene, and they are making a new play for more influence in the Indo-Pacific theater. We should welcome that.

Via The Diplomat:

Largely by virtue of its considerable strategic real estate in the mega-region, in the Pacific as well as the Indian Ocean, Paris is increasingly becoming the partner of choice for many other regional powers who have sought to diversify their partnerships in that strategic theater in face of Chinese intransigence as well as U.S. policy uncertainty in the past.

Did you catch that? This is smart positioning. There are many nations that are "Western adjacent" who have no desire to be in the Chinese orbit but for a variety of reasons do not want to get all that close to the USA. France would be a good option, with a positive secondary effect on USA goals.

...and France intends to assume strongly its international responsibilities. In a strategic context focused on the growing competition between the U.S. and China, France could be a credible alternative for many countries in Southeast Asia thanks to its status as permanent member of the United-Nation Security Council (UNSC) and its forces of [military] presence and sovereign territory, permanently based in Indo-Pacific and reinforced by regular deployments of metropolitan [mainland] resources.

Knowing there are powerful friends who do not have a territorial claim, political schemes, or tricks for economic servitude as China does can be a way to strengthen the spine of Indo-Pacific nations. France is doing good work here for everyone.

To face those various threats together, France is fully engaged in cooperation about Maritime Domain Awareness. In order to achieve the best possible knowledge of activities at sea in Asia-Pacific, France’s ambition is to promote bilateral and multilateral partnerships such as Information Fusion Centers (IFC) in Singapore, India, or Madagascar, with French liaison officers present there since their respective creation. This knowledge is also reinforced by the French maritime and diplomatic community, as well as warships and aircraft operating in the area. France had, in particular, created in 2016 the MICA (Maritime Information Cooperation & Awareness) center, with aims to share permanently maritime information and analysis all over the world through an international maritime network.

We know the UK is making a renewed effort to see and be seen in the Indo-Pacific, and even Germany. More nations who share a desire for a stable international environment free of an authoritarian Chinese hegemon should too. 

It is true that [many other] European countries have recently showed a growing interest in the Indo-Pacific area. And from a French perspective it is very good news. The recent publication of German and Dutch strategies underlines the strategic interest of the Indo-Pacific for Europe. German and British deployment projects are, from my point of view, an excellent opportunity to promote a multilateral approach in the area.

There is good news and efforts out there if you look for them. I just hope that we have smart people in DON and DOS who are working to leverage and connect to these independent efforts ... and deconflict for the greater good.

UPDATE: Well, lookie here, right on topic:

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