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European Foreign Ministers Are Being Forced to Side with Iran
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President Trump is trying to kill off the nuclear deal with Iran, but at the same time make the Iranians take the blame. Once again today he is expected to waiver re-imposing strict sanctions on Iran, but will threaten to pull out next time round unless Congress and European countries improve the terms of the agreement from the US point of view. He will also announce sanctions against individual Iranian officials for alleged corruption and human rights abuses during the recent street protests in Iran.

But the real aim of US opponents of the nuclear deal signed by President Obama and others in 2015 is to make sure that Iran gets no “peace dividend” out of the agreement and is provoked into walking away from it. Probably, Iranian leaders are too clever to fall into the trap, but Iranian policy is the product of competing power centres in Tehran so what they will decide is neither certain nor necessarily very smart.

The hostility to the deal expressed by Trump already means that foreign banks and companies are deterred from doing business in Iran for fear that sanctions might be slapped back on at any moment. Whatever benefit ordinary Iranians thought they would get out of the deal by way of jobs and an improved standard of living has never happened.

Nor is it likely to: having denounced the deal so often since the presidential election campaign as “the worst in history” Trump is boxed in by his own rhetoric – not that he has ever shown the slightest discomfort at this. He is seeking unilateral changes in the terms of the deal on the US side and a radical re-negotiation on the part of the Iranians and Europeans, neither of which he is likely to get.

Whatever happens in the short term, the Iranian nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action (JCPOA) as it is called, is beginning to resemble the stricken Iranian oil tanker currently adrift and blazing between China and Japan, which will sink or become a burnt-out hulk of no use to anyone.

But, just as Iran looks as if it is going to draw less and less economic benefit from the JCPOA, its political gains from agreement are increasing at home and abroad. President Hassan Rouhani can blame austerity, rising prices and unemployment squarely on Trump and the US. Spontaneous protests inspired by economic grievances that erupted across Iran in the days after 28 December can be demonised as plotted by or playing into the hands of foreign foes since the chief foe, in the shape of Trump, is cheering them on.

Another potential political benefit for Iran has become more evident in the last few days as the issue of the Iranian nuclear deal returns to the top of the news agenda. European states had put a lot of effort since Trump won the presidential election in 2016 into pretending that he was not “the mad woman in the attic” who had somehow taken control of the White House. There were hopes that Trump would simmer down or the great American ship of state would sail on under its own momentum, regardless of the weirdness of the new man at the helm. Foreign governments half-convinced themselves that if you held your nose and pretended that Trump was like other American presidents then he might become like one or else people would not notice that he was not.

But the pretence is getting pretty thin. Just how thin was visible this week as European foreign ministers met with their Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Brussels with the supposed purpose of persuading Iran to curtail its destabilising activities in the Middle East that impact on the nuclear deal. But it did not look like that: if Zarif was indeed being held to account, he was showing no sign of discomfort as he sat beaming at the British, French and German foreign ministers and they beamed back at him. It looked much more as if Iran and the powerful European states, aside from Russia, which is already in the Iranian corner, were presenting a common front against the US in defence of the nuclear deal. “Strong consensus in Brussels today,” tweeted Zarif cheerfully. “Iran is complying with JCPOA.”

Trump may eventually sabotage the nuclear deal, but the US will pay a heavy political price. The Europeans are embarrassed by being pushed into the Iranian corner along with Russia and China, but they do not have a lot of choice on the JCPOA and, increasingly, on other issues. Reluctantly, they are deciding that Trump is the great destabiliser and a far more potent threat to the international order than any danger posed by Iran.

Remember that all those officials gathered in Brussels will all have spent part of their time in recent days reading in full, or in serialised excerpts, Michael Wolff’s devastating book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which cites Trump’s senior aides as saying that he has the all-embracing egotism of a child seeking immediate gratification of its wishes and is incapable of doing his job as president of the US. It may be that the book, based on interviews with Trump’s intimates, will have less influence than it should in the US because the country is already so divided into pro and anti-Trump camps. But in the rest of the world, where there were still waverers who detected some method in Trump’s madness, the conviction is gelling that, as a spreader of chaos, Trump is unsurpassed and is more dangerous to the international peace than anything to be found in Tehran, Moscow or Beijing.


Some optimists hold that Trump may be just as much of a crackpot as his detractors believe, but the silver lining is that he is too chaotic and episodic to impact the world as much as he would like. They claim that, for all the foaming rhetoric coming out of the White House in 2017, the real damage done by Trump was less than many feared. This is a risky argument and, in the Middle East, neglects the fact that powerful people and countries who do not know what they are doing are manipulated and generally led up the garden path by others who know just what they want. For instance, Wolff says that “the president, ignoring if not defying foreign policy advice, gave a nod to the Saudis’ plan to bully Qatar.”

Sins of omission as well as commission have had a disastrous impact, such as the US failing to pressure Saudi Arabia to end the war in Yemen. All these ill-considered actions and inactions by Trump and his coterie pale in significance compared to the prospect of stoking a military confrontation with Iran. This would be a more serious war than the US and British invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Trump may not want a war with Iran or anybody else, but nobody is more likely than he to flounder into one through ignorance and wishful thinking.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, EU, Iran 
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  1. trixie article Patrick.

    Trump is being driven very hard by the sick, culturally pathological hatred of the masters of the U.S.A. and their “dual loyalty” agents of the ground, who completely surround the POTUS now.

    In yet another very clear indication of policy which compromises the U.S.A. and (most of) the citizens, for the benefit of… [that which you aren’t allowed to name] he further pushes the wedge between the U.S.A. and its closest allies in Europe, where the Iran spending spree after the signing of the JCPOA represents literally hundreds of billions of dollars, and potentially viability for a small number of key strategic industries, most notably aerospace.

    Russia and China will just love picking up all of those commercial jetliner contracts that Airbus and Boeing got; I think we can assume that the Boeing deals are not going to be fulfilled.

    Furthermore, even in the mid-term, Iran will be less and less reliant on what the U.S. does or does not do, as the petro-yuan is becoming a necessity for close to 50% of the planet, and the entire Eurasian integration plan of China will provide an ample alternative economic base for Iran to flourish.
    We can look to the ridiculous sanctioning of Russia for a map to domestic economy re-invigoration.

    Certainly Iran has its own corruption and inequity dysfunction, but certainly no worse the the U.S.A. itself, and, to a large extent, all of the so-called western-world, as it has fallen under the controlership of the hatred-based international collective.

    Trump will, as noted in the article, be boxed in, specifically to a no-win situation when the next renewal is due.

    It leaves the dangerous alternative of war with Iran, which the masters of the USA/Trump want (in their culturally indoctrinated neuroses), which they can’t win.
    While they can devastate Iran, both the USA and Israel will be destroyed, and much of the plantary ecology severely damaged.

    So when is the international community going to emancipate themselves and take decisive action?
    Trump obviously isn’t the root of the problem, he’s just the puppet of the moment, and a bombastic spotlight-hog to take the attention away from the real issue, a sick psychophantic culture striving to dominate and/or destroy the world, already having effectively gained control over the ‘western first-world democracies‘.

    I strongly urge all readers to read “The Controversy of Zion” by Douglas Reed, to better understand the context of the global geopolitics at the moment.

    • Agree: Druid
  2. Wally says:

    So IOW, these European ‘leaders’ are too weak to assert their independence from Israel.

  3. The reason one writes an entire article on US vs Iran without mentioning Israel is…

    to serve Israel.

    Iran is supposedly a sovereign country with a right to develop nuclear power or even weapons as it sees fit. Like Israel.

    The “real aim” of opponents of the nuclear deal is serving Israel. Nothing we do in the Middle East makes any sense without an Israel-First understanding.

    But that makes you a racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemetic, insane conspiracy theorist. And unemployed.

    So we get articles like this.

    • Agree: L.K, Miro23
    • Replies: @Moi
  4. Rich says:

    Trump is the “madwoman in the attic”? Merkel is a childless old hag who fetishizes African islamic immigrants. The childless Macron is married to his former schoolteacher who is 25 year older than him, May is another childless hag who kneels toward Mecca, Gentiloni, another European leader without children, is a former leftist radical and is also a fan of immigrants. It would appear that Europe’s leaders are all a little more off kilter and out of touch with their people and have no investment in the future, than a President Trump with his 5 children and 7 grandchildren.

    • Replies: @paraglider
  5. Art says:

    Lame article: unrealistic – no mention of Javanka in Trump ME policy.

  6. If this is indeed the case, and it does seem to be, it is helpful for the world, because if Europe can escape its yankee tutelage, that will improve prospects of resistance and, therefore, peace.

  7. Europeans have been siding with their enemies (and ours) for a very long time. A good part of it comes from the security blanket of the American nuclear umbrella. Europe sought to trade with China and the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, even as Uncle Sam attempted to throttle the Communist economies via trade embargo. Margaret Thatcher overrode Reagan’s objections to the gas pipeline. Without an insurance policy in the form of Uncle Sam’s nuclear arsenal and the American tripwire force in West Germany, would she have provided the hard currency the Soviets needed to stay afloat?

    • Replies: @Respect
  8. Renoman says:

    Once the Silk Road is built it won’t matter, looks like the usual huff and puff to me.

  9. @Rich

    you could not be more correct

    it is bad enough in the west where we have stateless in outlook transnational elites moralizing to the rest of us how the world ought to look……power and riches for them and serfdom for the rest of us …. we have leaders without investment in the future via children.

    leaders who have forsworn kids for career or because they are openly homosexual or cloistered behind beards the effect is the same. policies that makes no sense if cultural identity preservation is upper most.

  10. Respect says:
    @Johann Ricke

    Johan , take your ” American nuclear umbrella ” out of Europe . USA is not Europe . USA should stop meddling in Europe . USA should stop helping ucranian nazis . USA should stop promoting wars in Europe ,. USA should stop endless warmongering around the world . Rusia is Europe , russians are european , we europeans want to have good intereuropean relations .

  11. well, trump was all about looking out for usa, why wouldn’t EU ministers keep a look out for eu?

  12. Miro23 says:

    There were hopes that Trump would simmer down or the great American ship of state would sail on under its own momentum, regardless of the weirdness of the new man at the helm.

    Or, alternatively:

    The Great American Ship of State is heading straight for the iceberg, but new helmsman Trump is more concerned with the onboard entertainment.

  13. Shame on Mr. Cockburn!

    This article is content-free and not worthy of being printed on Unz. The author beats around the bush about what the underlying cause of Trump’s erratic behavior is. Trump is not a child running around floundering at everything he touches. He didn’t get to where he is by being stupid.

    Having gotten here, however, he seems to have gone of the deep end in a constant flurry of tweets and decrees – full of sound and fury, achieving nothing. There can only be two reasons for that: blackmail or a threat to his family. There is a game afoot, and the stench is emanating from Israel.

    It is pretty clear (use google) that Trump was balls deep in the Epstein circle with underage bimbos on Lolita Island, as were Bill Clinton, the Dershbag, and a host of figures in all aspects of government. Epstein was busy clicking the cameras he had hidden in all those guest bedrooms. This is the most likely cause of his insane behavior over the last year.

    The only other possibility is that the lives of his family are being threatened by the deep state – toe the line or pay the price as others before you.

    Either way, he is no longer of use to us.

  14. Anonymous [AKA "skpetic88"] says:

    I don’t think Iran is “free to develop nuclear weapons” Iran I believe signed the nuclear nonproliferation agreement. In doing so they have agreed not to develop nuclear weapons. Another state in the ME has not signed the agreement and is widely believed to possess nukes, not actually in violation of anything as they never signed.

  15. Moi says:
    @Backwoods Bob

    Yup–and I could not agree more.

  16. Just saw Sergei Lavrov’s annual press conference on You Tube. He says America has been successful in shutting Russia’s North Stream pipeline to Europe and buying more expensive us oil.
    The US is now trying to set up a 30,000 Kurdish and ISIS force east of Euphrates to divide Syria. Do listen to it with an open mind. You will soon know who is the real villain.

  17. Karl says:

    Trump can do something that Patrick Cockburn cannot: change the landscape of voter mentality in Europe.

    It wasn’t Cockburn that caused the rise of nationalist governments in Poland and Hungry and Austria

    It was Trump

    • Replies: @snag
  18. snag says:

    I have a feeling that until he will gain some points on jobs and employment he must be careful with the Jew infested MSM and zio-lobby. I really believe that he’s more inteligent and clever than zio-goons that he deals with. In regard of Iran he talks tough but no action, he knows that the Europeans especially the Germans, French and the Brits won’t follow because Iran constitutes over 12% of their export market and are pissed off already that China is taking their place.

  19. snag says:

    The Poles and Hungarians were against it long before Pres. Trump was elected. In case of Hungary it happen with the election of Orban in 2010 and in Poland with the election of PiS as a majority party in 2015 and getting the majority in government. The election of Trump for president made them more cockiness.

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