Friday, May 11, 2018

Trump Humiliates Iran: European Leaders Whine

It is worth the trouble to see how the other side thinks. It’s even worth the trouble to examine the conventional wisdom. Today, Steven Erlanger offers a good conventional analysis of President Trump’s action on the Iran nuclear deal in the New York Times.

His is news analysis. It is not reporting and is not editorializing. He suggests, in particular, that Trump has just humiliated the leaders of France, Germany and Great Britain. I know that this will make you feel bad, too. 

Note Erlanger’s analysis:

It is by now a familiar, humiliating pattern. European leaders cajole, argue and beg, trying to persuade President Trump to change his mind on a vital issue for the trans-Atlantic alliance. Mr. Trump appears to enjoy the show, dangling them, before ultimately choosing not to listen.

Instead, he demands compliance, seemingly bent on providing just the split with powerful and important allies that China, Iran and Russia would like to exploit.

Such is the case with the efforts to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear pact. Both the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, made the pilgrimage to Washington to urge Mr. Trump not to scrap the agreement. Their failure is very similar to what happened with the Paris climate accord, and to what is happening now with unilateral American sanctions imposed on steel and aluminum imports, and to Mr. Trump’s decision to move the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Erlanger imagines that the leaders of these nations are the equals, even the betters of the President of the United States. Truth be told, Barack Obama bought into their favorite theories because he wanted to be a citizen of the world. He wanted to treat them all like equals. And yet, when you treat a subordinate as an equal, you diminish yourself. This made Obama wildly popular in those nations, but he was selling a lie. America is the leader of the Atlantic alliance. France is not. Germany is not. Great Britain is not.

True enough, some of our European allies felt humiliated. But that was because Obama had been feeding them false pride. Trump merely showed them which nation was the leader of the alliance.

Why didn’t Erlanger suggest, even hint at, another version of events? Donald Trump tried his best to persuade these leaders that the Iran nuclear deal was a calamity, but they, wallowing in their own cowardice, their fear of the Muslim populations in their midst, could not accept his leadership.

Besides, Europe has already been divided against itself by Merkel’s immigration policies. As of now, Eastern European nations have rejected open borders policies and are about to come into conflict with the European Union.

An America that takes the lead can better deal with its great international rivals, like Russia and China. An America that cowers in the corner and that allows itself to be humiliated by Iran—remember the sailors who were captured by Iran after the nuclear deal was signed—cannot be an effective leader on the world stage.

As has been noted here, Trump’s good relations with the president of China are the behind-the-scenes reason for the thaw on the Korean peninsula. I suspect that Xi Jinping did not think less of Trump for standing up for America. We know that China thought less of Obama for failing to do so.

While Europeans, as reported by Erlanger, think that they are being treated like wimps, it would help them if they would stop whimpering and start cooperating with the United States. They are especially torqued that Trump walked out of the Paris Climate Accord. They refuse to fight Islamist terrorism but are all-in in the war against the weather!

If, as some suggest, the Paris Climate Accord is a complex mechanism for redistributing money from rich to poor nations, and if America is singled out for the largest contribution—because it is most guilty of having befouled the planet—why should an American president accede to imperious demands from European Lilliputians.

Of course, the Europeans are also very upset that Trump is moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Since they are living in the past, not the present, they still see Israel as the problem, not the solution, to the Middle East’s problems. Does anyone think that Trump would command respect by bowing down to European demands that America not move its embassy to Jerusalem. Whose embassy is it anyway?

While Trump understands well that the current threat in the region is Iran, not Israeli settlements, European leaders do not. Yesterday, on Town Hall, Katie Pavlich offered the perfect rejoinder to the sophisticated whining of the elites (via Maggie's Farm). She listed the nations that supported the Trump move on Iran. Among them, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. As has often been noted, this new alliance is fighting the present war against Iranian hegemony. The Europeans, military weak to the point of being nearly ineffectual, is fighting a war over ideas… where they believe that they can excel.

One notes the cries of anguish over the Iranian missile attack against Israel and the massive Israeli counterattack. Those who believe that cowardice prevents war, should think again. In the first place, the Israelis, with the support of many of their Arab neighbors, have been awaiting a chance to eliminate Iranian military installations in Lebanon. This is a positive outcome. As noted yesterday, the foreign minister of Bahrain declared that Israel had a right to defend itself. This tells you the true story.

In the exchange, Iran was humiliated and shown to be far weaker than our foreign policy elites imagine. Isn’t it better to reduce the stature of Iran than to exalt it?

We can say that the Trump foreign policy team did not offer the best leadership in the Syria conflict. But, it did eliminate ISIS from Iraq and Syria. And it did restore America’s alliances with the Sunni Arab world, alliances that the Obama presidency had left in tatters.

[I regret not mentioning it, but given the fact that Israeli Prime Minister was in Russia this week, we may reasonably assume that Vladimir Putin did not object very strenuously to the attack on Iranian bases in Syria.]


whitney said...

"They refuse to fight Islamist terrorism but are all-in in the war against the weather!"

Ha! There is another, older way to say that

"they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind."

Ares Olympus said...

Humiliation seems to be a theme in this post. It is a peculiar emotion, apparently arising when you discover you're weaker than you think in power or influence. Humiliation can lead to putting energy to finding new strength for the future, like Trump did after being mocked by Obama at the WHCD in 2011. Revenge can take years sometimes.

David Brooks today offered a similar argument, arguing basically Trump's approach as thuggish, and that it can work when you've got the power to back it up, and that the "country club" approach to trying to include thugs into status circles doesn't work, at least not before showing you can beat them down before you build them back up, like in the movies where two strong guys have a big fight before becoming BFF.

Sam L. said...

Clearly the Europeans don't have the strength, mental, moral, and most importantly, military, to have equality with Trump. They do have mouths, but their words seem empty.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Not a dry eye in the house. Poor Iran. So unfair!