Though for France — which on Friday returned its ambassadors to the United States — the deal might have sent what little trust had been restored after four years under former President Donald Trump, experts said.
As Biden celebrated the new AUKUS pact with Australia and Britain on Thursday, French officials revealed outrage over the deal, which brought that nation's 2016 contract to build submarines for Australia to an unexpected end.
"France's position for a very long time ... has been to say that the U.S. is an ally, but the U.S. is pivoting away from Europe and cannot fully be trusted," said Georgina Wright, head of the Europe Program at Institut Montaigne, a nonprofit transpartisan think tank based in Paris.
Now, France can feel justified in that position, she said, with Biden proving that "when (the United States) makes a decision, they will go ahead with it and they won't think twice about their allies."
In France, the swift reaction to the ruling was immediate and severe.
Outlining the deal as a "stab in the back," an ostensibly incensed French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday: “We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed. This is not done between allies.”
Of Biden, he said the president's "brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision" was a reminder of something his predecessor "used to do."
The Trump association is deemed a "major insult" in France, Frédéric Carillon, a political science professor at France's Clermont Auvergne University, said Thursday.
And within hours, Le Drian's harsh rebuke was translated into action, with the French calling off a gala in Washington that had been planned to mark the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes, in which the French stood by America's side in its fight for independence.
Pulling the plug on that party, surely, paled in comparison to Friday afternoon's aggravation of this diplomatic brouhaha between Washington and Paris.
Wright said that while the submarine deal itself would have angered French officials, it is the way the news was delivered that likely struck the biggest blow.
"The decision itself was a big blow for industry in France,” she said, with the country losing out on a $40 billion deal. “You cannot really overstate the ... industrial side," she said in a phone interview Friday.
Still, Wright said, what has really influenced France's relationship with the U.S. "is how the decision came about."