There has been much hand wringing and pleading in European capitals in the run up to President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Iran Nuclear Deal and fully reapply sanctions on Iran and any country that seeks to do business with it. It is therefore not surprising that Europe has arrived at this unhappy conclusion. As has been the habit for quite some time, European leaders failed to show any backbone in negotiations with America. They got nothing in return except what you should expect when you appease a bully.
It is too late to keep America in the Iran Deal, but it is not too late for Europe to secure its interests. Contrary to what the public talking heads in American media would have you believe, it would be quite easy for Europe to tell President Trump that they will not cooperate with his sanctions. And it is necessary for Europe to do so. The last time Europe failed to take a harder line with Israeli and Saudi driven US belligerence, they got a mass migrant crisis and devastating terrorist attacks within their borders. Frankly, as an American writing this, I hope for the sake of my own country that Europe shows some courage and fully stands up to Trump. It could help to prevent a devastating war and make clear to much of the American public, which is largely against further Middle Eastern wars, that US government belligerence is no longer acceptable. It would help all of us preserve our blood and treasure.
However, such a strong outcome will not come to reality if Europe’s leaders cannot show some courage. (Yes, Mr. Macron, it means no more holding hands and singing in the rain with your best friend in Washington – he probably doesn’t like you anyway.) There will be the afraid who will say that America will shut Europe out of the American market. But ask yourself, is it plausible to believe that the US will shut down most international trade with Europe if Europe refuses to comply with US sanctions on Iran? Of course, America will not do this. Trump might want to, but Congress, trade groups, and the public will be apoplectic. The recessionary danger that such moves would cause will isolate the President, even here in America. America would have no choice but to back down.
And even if such moves led to some short term financial loss, Europe would gain its sovereignty in the long term. As you well know, American sovereignty is not for sale and Europe’s should not be either.