Sunday, January 14, 2018

TRITA PARSI - America’s Relationship With Europe: Collateral Damage if Trump Kills the Iran Deal

Scary times. I use to think it might be a good idea for Europe to jettison the US, but what if Trump wants a world where every country on its own and winner takes all. And what if Trump is not an anomaly but represents the will and desires of  a large percentage of the American people. 

“The fact that the U.S. is reducing its role in world affairs cannot be tied to the policies of a single president,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said last month in a stunning speech. “There will be no major changes to this trend, also after the next election.” What was once only whispered is now clearly said: Europe is readying itself for a post-American world, even after the end of the Donald Trump era. And in a surprising twist, the fate of the U.S.-European Union axis may come down to what Trump decides to do with the Iran nuclear deal later this month.

But this time around, the survival of the nuclear deal is no longer just about Iran’s centrifuges and sunset clauses. It’s about whether the EU will see the U.S. as a pillar of the liberal international order or as a fifth column seeking its demise. The nuclear deal has become the latest, and perhaps most consequential, international agreement or norm that the EU seeks to uphold and Trump seeks to tear down: from the Paris agreement, to the future of NATO, to the unity of the EU, to the funding of the United Nations, to the status of Jerusalem.
To Europe, two new realities have become clear. First, if the EU acquiesces on the nuclear deal, Trump will move on to target another agreement, and then another, and then another, until the very foundation of the current international order is uprooted. This will eventually force the EU to draw a line in the sand and stand up to Trump. Logic then dictates the longer the EU waits, the more damage Trump will do before he’s stopped. Hence, the EU is better off taking its stand at the Iran deal than waiting for it to be scrapped and emboldening Trump further.
Germany’s Gabriel gave the clearest hints as to Europe’s new thinking last month. While he urged the Trump administration to “help develop joint strategies that preserve both the liberal international order and a global trade system that rests on a foundation of freedom, fairness, human rights and the rule of law,” he was also clear-eyed that to the U.S., the world is no longer a “global community, but rather an arena in which nations, non-state actors and corporations fight to gain advantage.”

The American Conservative

No comments: