An international backlash has forced the Trump administration to back away from describing next month’s gathering in Warsaw as an anti-Iran conference:
European objections have forced the United States to backtrack on plans to stage a two-day conference in Poland focused on building a global coalition against Iran.
The conference is now being described as a wider brainstorming session about the Middle East.
In announcing the summit earlier this month, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, had explicitly said the summit’s purpose was to focus on Iran’s influence and terrorism in the region.
Much like Nikki Haley’s failed anti-Iran Security Council meeting last fall, the Warsaw conference has been rebranded to avoid calling attention to how internationally isolated the U.S. is in its hostility to Iran. Just as that earlier meeting was turned into a general meeting about “nonproliferation,” this one is now being described as a “global brainstorming session” on a range of issues in the Middle East. In both cases, the administration’s agenda hasn’t really changed, but they have had to back away from their more strident rhetoric against Iran because so few other governments share their obsession.
The new description won’t fool anyone. The Warsaw conference is likely to backfire on Trump and Pompeo in the same way that the U.N. meeting did. The damage to the administration’s conference has already been done, and many other governments aren’t sending representatives or will probably send only low-ranking officials. Russia has already announced that their government is boycotting the event. The fact that Iran still isn’t invited to participate tells everyone that the gathering was intended to be an anti-Iranian one. Changing how the conference is described won’t change the reality that U.S.-European relations are fraying over the nuclear deal, and it isn’t going to make other governments any more supportive of the administration’s bankrupt Iran policy.