I am a cynic. I’ve seen too much ugliness and been around too many people who have experienced infinitely worse than I ever will to be anything but. I am also well past the illusion that “my side” is somehow more virtuous.
So what, exactly, is the point of this post? The Iran Nuclear “Deal”. It’s a bit of a jump, but bear with me. Trump has kept his promise and withdrew the United States from that pact. The United Kingdom, France and Germany did their best to dissuade him from fulfilling his promise.
I don’t believe that this was ever about fulfilling any obligations, certainly not on the European end. The entire point of that “deal” was to try to get Iran integrated into the global economy, to wrap the silken cords of economic pragmatism around the Islamic Republic. No one actually believed that it was a good deal or that it would actually achieve its main goal.
It should have come as no surprise that the US would pull out of that agreement. Trump, whatever his tenuous links with veracity, has done remarkably well in fulfilling his campaign promises. There has been another, deeply troubling, series of developments that arguably forced his hand. When considered objectively, they make the Europeans look monstrously self-serving.
In the dying years of the Obama Era, one thing that united the Atlantic powers was their desperation to extricate themselves from the Middle East’s travails. The Iran Deal was a part of that effort. Economics, it was hoped, would trump (no pun intended) ideology and economic development would strengthen the hand of Iran’s moderates. It has certainly been successful in putting more money into the hands of the Iranian regime. Iran’s oil exports have doubled. Yet… Iran’s economy and currency remain remarkably weak. So where has this money gone? Iran has poured the dividends of this windfall into integrating as much of the Arab world into a new Persian Empire as possible. They’ve expanded into Syria and strengthened their suzerainty over Lebanon. They’ve also done as much as they can to destabilise Bahrain and wage a proxy war in Yemen with the Saudis.
In the last few days we’ve seen the most obvious example of Iran’s strategy. From their positions in Syria, Iranian forces have fired into Israel. They’ve indirectly been attacking Israel via their Hezbollah proxies in Lebanon for years. But this brings the twisted logic of the European position into the spotlight. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Bahrain were adamantly opposed to the Iran deal. Many have suffered as a result. It’s remarkable that Saudi Arabia and Israel have reached a de facto détente as a result of it. News that the USA would no longer adhere to it was received with near rapturous joy in the region.
For the United Kingdom, France and Germany Iran was worth too much money. Iran is an oil-rich, densely populated country with a large, relatively young and well-educated population. Iran was worth scores and scores of billions in exports and trade deals. There is no diplomatic principle involved in this. It’s all money. At least the Chinese and Russians are open that this is their priority. Whatever noises they’re making now, they’re going to have to bow to reality. The United States has a profound ability to exert its influence. Having a single account in the United States, using the United States dollar, brings corporations under the purview, at lease partially, of the US.
Riyadh, Jerusalem and Moscow have — with Washington’s tacit acquiescence — been in contact with each other about reaching a settlement over Syria. Indications are that it would involve Iran being forced out with Russia being entrenched with Assad as their puppet. The Israelis prefer Russia’s suzerainty over Iran’s and Assad over Islamists. The Russians are only too happy to remove challengers to their interests. Saudi Arabia would prefer the Russians and Israelis winning as both work within established perimeters. Syria and its long-suffering people, as is often the case, are peripheral players. The Europeans will get egg on their face as they so richly deserve.