Last month, the United States, Australia, and the U.K. signed a defense agreement aimed at helping Australia counter aggression from China in the region. The deal, dubbed AUKUS, will grant Australia with high-tech submarines, but it comes at the expense of angering France. That's because the agreement nullified a $40 billion submarine contract France had with the Australian government, which was signed in 2016.
French officials openly declared their anger, calling the deal a betrayal, and canceling a gala at the last minute that was supposed to celebrate U.S.-French relations.
Now, U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry said President Biden had no idea the deal would upset France so much.
"He literally had not been aware of what had transpired," Kerry told a French news channel on Monday. "And I don't want to go into the details of it, but suffice it to say, that the president, my president, is very committed to strengthening the relationship and making sure that this is a small event of the past and moving on to the much more important future."
While Kerry acknowledged why France was so upset, he said the U.S.-French alliance is stronger than this "momentary event."
"We have a relationship with France that is so much bigger than this moment of what happened with respect to a lack of communication," he said.
"Our commitment…to our ability to work together is much, much stronger to any of these differences over the last few days," he added. "President Biden looks forward to meeting with President Macron and I'm absolutely confident that the bigger issues we have to work on, about nuclear weapons, about cyber warfare, about climate…we have a lot of work to do, and we can't get lost in a momentary event that I think we will get past very quickly."
On Twitter, politicians and commentators alike were alarmed that Kerry would openly admit this.
Let’s go Brandon! https://t.co/XjmVpSuXXi— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) October 5, 2021
.@ClimateEnvoy John Kerry says @POTUS isn't consulted on reactions of key US Allies. This could explain disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal & Biden Admin selling out Eastern European allies in NATO & Ukraine while waiving sanctions on Nord Stream 2 pipeline. https://t.co/RNaa2vsaJg— Senator Bill Hagerty (@SenatorHagerty) October 5, 2021
What else does Joe Biden not know?? https://t.co/TSdF9ghKoF— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) October 5, 2021
Saying the quiet part out loud.— Jane Timken (@JaneTimkenOH) October 6, 2021
Who is running our country? https://t.co/n9KNYOrVuD
Since assuming office, Joe Biden has been an absent president.— Congressman Byron Donalds (@RepDonaldsPress) October 5, 2021
But for a President not to be made aware of a technology transfer of this severity and the fallout with a longstanding ally is not only alarming, but raises valid concerns:
What else is POTUS in the dark on? https://t.co/7PGWFisUr6
Translated: if China invades Taiwan, Biden won’t even notice https://t.co/e04FTd0XCw— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 6, 2021
Believable but pathetic https://t.co/ja3pIBgHsh— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) October 6, 2021
It’s bad when they just say it out loud now. https://t.co/ZftncEoeiy— Chris Stigall (@ChrisStigall) October 6, 2021
WOW -- Kerry sort of throwing Blinken and the entire administration foreign policy arm under the bus here and making Biden look completely disengaged. https://t.co/WX47CyrLnT— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) October 5, 2021