Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Allies Should Act Like Allies

President Trump is in London for the NATO meetings. Naturally, the press and foreign leaders have happily mocked and derided the American president. As always happens, they delight to the urbane sophistication of European nations that live under the American military umbrella. 

When relationships sour between America and her erstwhile allies the media is quick to blame the American president. It never seems to cross their collective minds that allies should act like allies.

Consider the case of Iran. Currently, thanks to American sanctions, the Iranian regime is on its knees. Iranians have been protesting against the ayatollahs. Many protesters have been murdered in the streets.

Eli Lake describes the situation:

Iranians have been protesting their regime since last month. Only in the last few days, however, has the world begun to learn the full scope of the repression they face.

There are the videos posted to social media and aggregated by news sites that show security forces firing on demonstrators. There are statements from leading Iranian opposition figures such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, one of the leaders of the 2009 uprising who has been under house arrest since 2011. There are headlines reading, “With Brutal Crackdown, Iran Is Convulsed by Worst Unrest in 40 Years.” There is the report from Amnesty International saying that at least 208 people have been killed.

Lake remarks:

It’s too soon to say whether the latest protests in Iran are the beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic. What’s clear, however, is that the current government is facing a crisis of legitimacy. Ten years ago, when hundreds of thousands of supporters of Mousavi took to the streets, it was largely the urban, educated classes expressing their fury about a stolen election. Today, the unrest in Iran has spread to the working poor. Even Kurdish parties — which have traditionally pursued their own agenda — are now working with organizers of the national movement.

Ten years ago, the Obama administration ignored the protests. It could not even bring itself to issue a statement in support of their goals. It was so hell bent on appeasing the Iranian regime that it turned a blind eye on autocratic oppression.

Now, Obama’s allies in Western Europe have done him one better. For those nations Obama is still president and the Iran nuclear deal remains in place. This, even though the United States has withdrawn from it and has been working to cripple the Iranian regime.

Naturally, Europe’s enlightened rulers have been doing everything in their power to circumvent American sanctions against Iran. And they have been doing it at a time when the regime is shooting people on the streets. What message does that send?

Lake asks the question:

So it’s puzzling that America’s European allies chose last weekend to announce that six more countries are joining a bartering system, known as Instex, designed to evade the U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden announced Saturday they were joining France, Germany and the U.K..

“Do they think we don’t see what is happening in Iran?” asked Alireza Nader, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who is closely tracking the unrest. “To push Instex at this moment reveals a remarkable lack of attention to human rights. I hope they come to their senses.”

Don't count on it.

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