The Growing Rift with Europe Over Iran
The Trump administration is organizing an anti-Iran conference that will meet in Poland next month. Many European governments are planning to snub the administration by staying away:
A U.S. effort to enlist Europe in its pressure campaign against Iran faced a setback after officials said ministers from several European Union members will likely skip a summit organized by Washington on Iran and the Middle East.
The summit, which will be co-hosted by Poland and the U.S. and take place in Warsaw, was announced during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tour of the Middle East last week. The two governments said it would focus on terror, extremism and missile proliferation in the region and threats posed by proxy groups, activities Washington has accused Iran of engaging in or promoting.
Holding the conference in a European country was bound to call attention to the rift between the U.S. and its European allies over the nuclear deal. Trying to set some European governments against the rest over the administration’s Iran obsession recalls the low point of U.S. relations with Europe during the Iraq war debate when U.S. officials derided the allies that opposed the invasion as “old Europe.” The EU is working on creating a mechanism to thwart U.S. Iran sanctions and to make it possible for European firms to do business in Iran without facing American penalties, so there is no chance that the EU or most of its member states will want to be part of a pressure campaign that they don’t agree with. The administration’s attempt to cajole European allies into falling in line behind unjustified punitive measures against Iran isn’t likely to work, and it shows how the Iran obsession continues to drive a wedge between the U.S. and our genuine treaty allies to the detriment of American and European interests.
The Trump administration’s efforts to build an “anti-Iran coalition” will keep foundering because very few other governments share our Iran hawks’ fixation on the country. Even when our allies share some concerns about certain Iranian activities, they are not consumed by hostility as the administration seems to be. Between reneging on the JCPOA and threatening Europe with sanctions if they abide by the deal, the administration has become much more menacing to our allies’ interests and preferences than Iran is. Our allies aren’t going to reward that behavior by joining a campaign against Iran that gains them nothing.