Sometimes, you just have to marvel at how well some pieces fit together. Take, for example, those two very expensive amphibious assault aircraft carriers, the Mistral class ships, built in France for the Russians, that the French were told by Washington not to sell to Russia because Russia was not playing nice when it annexed historically Russian territory in the Crimea following an election, in response to the USA's perfectly acceptable and reasonable violent overthrow of a legitimately elected government in Kiev to install Neo-Nazi thugs and ne'er-do-wells.
The French, who were already paid the billion or so dollars for the warships by the Russians, were, as one might imagine, none too happy about the deal. Nor did Washington, in the spirit of being a good ally, offer to take them off of France's hands. France, in the meantime, has of course offered to refund Russia's money, but in the meantime, it is stuck with two helicopter carriers sitting on concrete blocks in the front lawn. (Nor can we really imagine Paris wanting to sell them to Washington, but we'll get back to that.)
Well, a buyer might have been found:
Now, I think most of us can probably read between the lines here, and this can be summed up very succinctly: Paris is thumbing its nose at Washington by selling the ships not to Mr. Putin's Russia (Public Enemy Number One) but to Mr. Xi's China (Public Enemy Number One and a Half). France gets its money, China gets two helicopter carriers (and a considerable insight into French technology to boot) without having to build them, and the USA gets two more ships to worry about.
The deeper story here is, of course, the familiar one that I've been blogging about over the past few years: American heavy-handedness and unipolarism are driving our allies - powerful ones like France(a thermonuclear power, we need to remember), away through a short sighted policy vis-a-vis Russia.
And of course, there's another possibility here too.
China might decide that it doesn't like its shiny new helicopter carriers, and decide to sell them to someone else after they're safely berthed in Shanghai.
And Vladivostok is, of course, more or less a "short trip" up the coast.
The USA could, of course, object once again (and it would be foolish to do so, but then again, we haven't seen much sanity from Washington lately) and insist that France not sell the carriers to China.And the reasons would be, from a military and geopolitical standpoint, even more pressing. After all, two helicopter carriers in Russia's hands, bottled up in the Baltic, Black, or Mediterranean seas would be one thing, but the same carriers in the Straits of Formosa would be quite another. Think Taiwan here.
Such pressure would be difficult for France, having caved once, to resist, but I am inclined to think that it would be even more difficult for France to cave in twice. Its reputation as a global high-tech arms supplier would be ruined. And it would "lose influence" within the European Union vis-a-vis Germany. For Paris, these are not options.
See you on the flip side.