Trump and Iran Time for Europe to Join the Resistance

U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal marks the temporary suspension of the trans-Atlantic alliance. What now?

Iranian protesters burning U.S. flags after Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Iranian protesters burning U.S. flags after Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

A DER SPIEGEL Editorial by

Trump's renown is rooted in American hero myths. Trump says that women like Carla Bruni lust after him, something that women like Carla Bruni vehemently deny. Trump says he is exorbitantly rich, yet Trump ran himself into the ground with his casinos to the point that he was 295 million dollars in debt in 1990. He was bailed out by the banks and by his father. The greatest myth, though, has to do with Trump's alleged negotiating expertise. This too is nonsense. Trump was never proficient in the art of the deal. As a businessman, he paid far too much for substandard properties and has shown no patience as a politician. He isn't curious. His preparation is nonexistent. Strategy and tactics are both foreign to him. Trump is only proficient in destruction. And that's what he does.

He backed out of the Paris climate agreement while promising a "better deal for America." But nothing came of the promise, neither a plan nor meaningful talks. In Trump's Washington, the only thing that matters is dismantling the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump also promised to improve Obama's health care plan, but the details are complex and bothersome. So Trump destroyed Obamacare and has done nothing to replace it.

Now, he is playing the same game on the world stage with the Iran nuclear deal. Trump refers to it as "the worst deal ever," which is why he has now pulled the U.S. out of it. The negotiations that resulted in the deal in 2015 were a masterpiece of international diplomacy, but there are no plans in place to launch new talks.

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Trump wants to bring the Iran regime to its knees with sanctions, but domestic political considerations in Tehran make it unlikely that the country will buckle. Leaders who demonstrate weakness in Iran are discarded. It seems more likely that they will close ranks. Iran-supported groups like Hezbollah are likely to pour fuel on the fire of conflicts in Yemen or Lebanon -- as close as possible to Israel's border. Iran presumably won't pursue the path of extreme escalation, since such a path wouldn't be beneficial, but it will likely cease allowing observers into the country, stop providing information on its uranium enrichment activities. It will seek to conceal what the West would like to know.

And what are the benefits of Washington's radical move? There are none. Just chaos where there was once order. Just American capriciousness after decades of stability.

The most shocking realization, however, is one that affects us directly: The West as we once knew it no longer exists. Our relationship to the United States cannot currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a partnership. President Trump has adopted a tone that ignores 70 years of trust. He wants punitive tariffs and demands obedience. It is no longer a question as to whether Germany and Europe will take part in foreign military interventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is now about whether trans-Atlantic cooperation on economic, foreign and security policy even exists anymore. The answer: No. It is impossible to overstate what Trump has dismantled in the last 16 months. Europe has lost its protective power. It has lost its guarantor of joint values. And it has lost the global political influence that it was only able to exert because the U.S. stood by its side. And what will happen in the remaining two-and-a-half years (or six-and-a-half years) of Trump's leadership? There is plenty of time left for further escalation.

Every Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., senior DER SPIEGEL editors gather to discuss the lead editorial of the week and ultimately, the meeting seeks to address the question: "What now?" Simply describing a problem isn't enough, a good editorial should point to potential solutions. It has rarely been as quiet as during this week's meeting.

Europe should begin preparing for a post-Trump America and seek to avoid provoking Washington until then. It can demonstrate to Iran that it wishes to hold on to the nuclear deal and it can encourage mid-sized companies without American clients to continue doing business with Iranian partners. Perhaps the EU will be able to find ways to protect larger companies. Europe should try to get the United Nations to take action, even if it would only be symbolic given that the U.S. holds a Security Council veto. For years, Europe has been talking about developing a forceful joint foreign policy, and it has become more necessary than ever. But what happens then?

The difficulty will be finding a balance between determination and tact. Triumphant anti-Americanism is just as dangerous as defiance. But subjugation doesn't lead anywhere either -- because Europe cannot support policies that it finds dangerous. Donald Trump also has nothing but disdain for weakness and doesn't reward it.

Clever resistance is necessary, as sad and absurd as that may sound. Resistance against America.

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matthew_w_g 05/11/2018
1. F U Europe
Time to put your big boy pants on Euros. You've been riding our coattails since 1945, costing us TRILLIONS of dolalrs. Trump nukes an Executive Order, written by an idiot named Obama and endorsed by a scumbag named Kerry. GET OVER IT! Sorry you won't be able to rake in the money from the Mad Mullahs but maybe you can pay us back for our NATO costs for the last 50 years. Next up, we hope that Trump closes ALL bases in Europe and brings home our troops.
nick_varnalis 05/11/2018
richard_jones 05/11/2018
Adios, Europe. You will be an Islamic caliphate by mid-century.
john_woodstock 05/11/2018
4. Klaus, you are a Fool
One thing that all you EU socialists don't seem to understand is that the incredibly horrendous deal that Obama made with Iran (not a treaty) required the USA to defend Iran if it was attacked by Israel. Maybe instead of writing an article that's full of your opinion you could actually provide some facts next time. Not that we'll be reading, Fake News gets one attempt then it's ignored.
mike_greenbeck 05/11/2018
5. President Trump is NOT Obama
Bitte küss meinen Hintern Herr Klaus Brinkbäumer. Es ist längst vorbei, dass Europa und Deutschland aufhören, sich auf Amerika zu stürzen und uns für dumm zu halten. Der einzige Grund, warum Sie diesen Deal mit dem Iran mögen, ist, dass die Vereinigten Staaten für alles bezahlen würden und Sie wollen, dass das Geschäft am Ort bleibt, damit Sie mit all den Geschäften, die Sie mit dem Iran machen, aufräumen können. Nun, lerne das und mache es schnell, Präsident Trump ist kein Idiot wie Obama. Amerika Zuerst mein Freund.
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