How to Become a World Power

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BERLIN/TEHRAN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – Berlin is seeking to use Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal to increase its pressure on Tehran. In their joint statement published Wednesday, the governments of Germany, France and the United Kingdom declared their continued commitment to the agreement, while demanding that the Iranian government limit its ballistic missile program and its efforts to obtain influence in the region. The reintroduction of US sanctions offers Berlin a chance to disguise its continued pressure on Tehran as a war preventive measure. At the same time, US sanctions against Iran continue to fuel the power struggle between the EU and the USA. The Airbus Company alone could lose €16 billion in commercial deals due to the sanctions imposed by the US government. Commentators recommend resistance: “You don’t become a world power in a conference room.” At the same time, Israel is exacerbating the escalating tensions with its aggressions against Syria.

Aggression against Syria

“U.S. Freedom of Action”

Regardless of how the Israeli aggression against Syria will continue, Washington’s policy could provoke a war against Iran in the near future. By breaching the nuclear agreement and Resolution 2231 of the UN Security Council supporting the agreement, the Trump administration is running the risk that Teheran will, in turn, no longer respect an agreement that has become obsolete and resume its nuclear program. According to observers, the USA could then launch an attack on Iran as several hawks in the US administration – such as security advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – have been threatening to do for years. US military expert Matthew Kroenig, who served as Special Advisor on Iran Policy in the Office of the US Secretary of Defense from July 2010 to July 2011, explained the background. An Iranian nuclear bomb would “immediately limit U.S. freedom of action in the Middle East,” Kroenig wrote. Washington would have to “think twice before acting in the region.”[2] This would be unacceptable and must be prevented, if necessary with a war.

Negotiate under Pressure

Berlin is trying to use the aggression against Iran to compel Tehran to make concessions. In their joint statement, published Wednesday, the governments of Germany, France and the United Kingdom emphasize their “continuing commitment” to the nuclear agreement. At the same time Berlin, Paris and London are demanding, “Iran must continue to meet its own obligations under the deal,” and bow to further demands from the West. Tehran should not only accept “a long-term framework for Iran’s nuclear program after some of the agreement’s provisions expire,” but “concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile program and its destabilizing regional activities, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen must also be addressed.”[3] Berlin is hoping that – under the pressure of US American and Israeli aggressions – Tehran can be blackmailed into making the desired concessions.

Homemade

Billions in Losses

With the beginning of the new aggression against Iran, Berlin is confronting awkward decisions in relationship to Washington. With the threat of punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the Trump administration has already put the German government under heavy pressure.[4] The US’ most recent sanctions, single-handedly imposed on Russia, are also threatening to cause serious damage to German companies. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[5]) The unilaterally announced withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and the reintroduction of US sanctions on trade with Iran are costing the German industry additional billions in losses. It is already clear that the European aeronautics company’s 100 Airbus planes – catalogue price of €16 billion – agreed in December 2016 to be delivered to Iran, must be cancelled. The Trump administration has annulled export permits for the US-produced plane parts. Airbus has declared that it intends to abide by the sanctions.[6] Other German companies are expecting serious losses. Recently, trade between Germany and Iran had again reached an annual €3.4 billion. Many German companies have their hands tied. Their business activity in the USA is many times greater than that with Iran and cannot be jeopardized.

A Second Front

However, these new sanctions are also an element in the power struggle between Germany and the USA. Recently, Berlin had repeatedly reiterated that it intends to rise in global politics and operate “on equal terms” with Washington.[7] Trump is countering this, among other things, with an aggressive trade policy and currently also against Germany’s trade with Iran. Tuesday, Richard Grenell, on his first day in office, as the new US ambassador in Berlin, issued – by twitter – an ultimatum to the companies in Germany “to phase out immediately” their business relations in Iran.[8] There was outrage in the German capital at the “military cadence-like tone” used by the US diplomat to issue orders to the host country’s businesses. In German media, reference was made to a “second front” in the USA-Germany trade wars.[9] The German government finds itself in an awkward position. It faces the alternative of subordinating itself to the United States or risking serious losses on its most important sales market and its, by far, most important investment location – the USA. An influential commentator insists that Berlin must learn how to “be listened to and respected” in Washington, “and to impose its own interests.” “World power is not achieved in a conference room, with complacent speeches or by feeling offended.”[10]

Transatlantic Priorities

However, in the government-financed think tanks, proposals calling for avoiding the conflict by going along with the US aggression against Iran are beginning to surface. For example a Middle East expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) explained that should Iran actually restart its nuclear program, “Germany and Europe will be forced to take a position.” “They will have to conclude that it is more important to prevent Iran’s nuclear arming than to stop a war.”[11] This would restore transatlantic cohesion.

Full article: How to Become a World Power (German Foreign Policy)

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