Writing in Foreign Policy, Ellie Geranmayeh of the European Council on Foreign Relations proves why the European Union is so difficult for President Trump to deal with on Iran.
Her argument evidences how so very many Europeans are determined to appease Iran at all costs.
For a start, Geranmayeh does not simply condemn the Trump administration's efforts to strengthen the Iran nuclear deal, she portrays those efforts as immoral and deserving of European retaliation. Geranmayeh's contention is that should the Trump administration fail to agree with European governments on how to improve the deal, the E.U. should be prepared to sanction U.S. interests.
She explains, "Put simply, EU officials must tell Trump: If you fine our companies’ assets in the United States, we will reclaim those costs by penalizing U.S. assets in Europe. This would cause a major trade conflict that the Europeans want to avoid by all means. But the option and the precedent exist."
While I admire Geranmayeh's sense of confidence in the E.U. project, the idea that the Europeans could win a trade-blacklist war with the United States is totally laughable. Losing access to U.S. markets would introduce huge pressure on European export companies in the automotive, banking, and manufacturing industries. Moreover, as soon as the U.S. started saying "Deal with us on Iran and the restrictions go away," E.U. multinational corporations would do an about face and aggressively petition their governments to cooperate with Trump's efforts to improve the Iran deal.
The key is that they have far more to gain from U.S. market access than Iranian market access.
This gives Trump great opportunity in that, as I noted recently, he can tie Western economic contracts in Iran to a delivery mechanism that serves the Iranian people rather than the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Yet what's most fascinating about Geranmayeh's piece is its submission to Iranian hegemony.
After all, the European Council on Foreign Relations member doesn't simply want to obstruct Trump's Iran deal improvements, she wants to prevent any new sanctions or restrictions targeting Iran's ballistic missile program and its malevolent activities across the broader Middle East. Instead, Geranmayeh says that the E.U. should address any concerns on issues such as Iranian missile development by facilitating "a dialogue with all regional powers with the goal of limiting the range of ballistic missiles and their transfer under existing international arms control regimes."
Translating the European high-minded rhetoric into realism, Geranmayeh is calling for a dialogue that leads to nowhere but allows European governments to say they've tried to pressure Iran. It represents utter and absolute appeasement of the most pathetic kind.
Ultimately, however, Geranmayeh's piece inspired me. While many in the E.U. might want to keep playing nice with Iran's despotic regime and tolerate its support for terrorist groups like the Lebanese Hezbollah, and its assassinations, imperialism, missile attacks, and sectarian blackmail, Trump ignores these morons.
Because he sees things differently.
He sees the need to look to the longer term of U.S. security and regional stability. In turn, the president is absolutely right to work to improve the nuclear agreement and to constrain Iranian malevolence in the Middle East. And if Geranmayeh wants to raise the ante by threatening a trade war, I say go ahead.
The U.S. will win.