Good Morning, Mr. President: What Europe Wants from Obama
Part 8: 'Please Don't Bomb Iran'
Omid Nouripour, a native of Iran, is a member of the German Parliament representing the Green Party.
The security of the entire Middle East is the foremost challenge of the international community: We must avoid a vicious circle of armament stemming from the conflicts there, defend the rights and dignity of the people, and thus build a lasting peace. Dear President Obama: I would like to ask you for two things: First and most importantly that you rule out the option of military action against Iran. An attack on Iran would have uncontrollable political consequences in the entire Middle East -- from Lebanon to Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and all the way to Afghanistan. Moreover, it would guarantee the re-election of the current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who otherwise stands very good chances of losing the next election due to his disastrous economic policies.
The second favor I have to ask concerns the vivid civil society in Iran. I put so much emphasis on this point because I intimately know the Iranian people and their will to change things and take their fate into their own hands. The women's right activists, students, labor unions, journalists, bloggers, artists -- they all make up the backbone of the liberation movement in the country. To help these people is to help the cause of democracy and progress. The US cooperation with the Iranian civil society needs to be reorganized. Your country gives over $100 million per year to the so-called "Iran Democracy Fund" (IDF), which is supposed to help the "velvet revolution," as President Bush called it. The results are disappointing and even counterproductive. In Iran itself, the money is lost in corrupt structures or goes to ineffective projects.
And what is worse, the IDF has become a pretext for the Iranian regime to pursue unpleasant civil society activists, accusing them of taking American money and working as spies for the USA. Besides, the IDF and its declared goals hampers the collaboration of international NGOs with civil society activists in the country, placing them under the suspicion of working directly for a revolution in Iran -- a threat the regime cannot ignore. Therefore I ask you urgently: stop the activity of the IDF. There is only one way to effectively help the progressive forces in the country: Talk with them, seriously consider their arguments and give them an echo in the international community.
Ulrike Guérot heads the Berlin office of European Council on Foreign Relations.
Barack Obama is a paradigm change for the US. He will need to change the way the US acts in the world. The US has lost its political and -- now -- it’s financial supremacy, and the country will need to adapt. And, perhaps of even more concern, the country has lost a great deal of sympathy and reputation as a result of the Bush administration -- especially among younger generations abroad. Barack Obama conveys the policy of a "fresh start."
On foreign policy, this is likely to show in areas such as climate protection, where Europe is keen to see an engaged US; or with respect to Iraq, where a trans-Atlantic exit strategy is needed. Europe also expects a new tone and a new style from the US. But one should not expect a trans-Atlantic honeymoon. Obama will need Europe’s help and troops in Afghanistan -- and Europe will be reluctant to deliver. The US and Europe also increasingly differ on how to deal and what to do with Russia -- but they avoid talking about it openly. The US seems to have more ‘Cold War’ reflexes when it comes to Russia, where Europe wants and needs the strategic partnership.
The US could regain its leadership if it shows readiness to engage fully in international law making, including human right policies at the UN. The world needs a US that engages clearly into multilateralism and that stops believing that it can better act alone only because it feels so strong.
The biggest potential is that the US will again fall into a pattern of playing divide and conquer with Europe instead of promoting a strong and truly united Europe.
- Part 1: What Europe Wants from Obama
- Part 2: 'We Need the US as a Strong Partner'
- Part 3: 'On Iran, Precious Time Has Been Lost'
- Part 4: 'We Need a Washington Less Ideological in Dealing with Russia and China'
- Part 5: 'The Time Has Come to Kick-Start Talks with Tehran'
- Part 6: 'Some Disappointment Is Inevitable'
- Part 7: 'By Voting for Obama, Americans Are not Voting to Become an EU Country'
- Part 8: 'Please Don't Bomb Iran'
- Part 9: 'A Measure of Moral Leadership Would Be to Join the ICC'
- Part 10: 'Obama -- Something that Is Still Impossible to Achieve in many European Countries'
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