This week’s escalation in tensions between Iran and also the US has exposed an uncomfortable reality for several of America’s friends in Europe.
When US President Donald Trump called on the united kingdom , Germany, France, Russia and China – the other nations signatory to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise referred to as the Iran deal -to join him in walking faraway from the JCPOA, he was asking his European allies to try and do much more than isolate Iran.
The Iran deal, which was signed under the auspices of the European Union, is the single biggest policy achievement within the EU’s history.
It was the EU that drove efforts to urge all of prominent parties to the table. In doing so, it not only encouraged Iran to interact with the West, but it crucially created a forum during which the EU could start to navigate what’s now its chief aim in policy . “The EU’s top priority is balanced relations between the large two: China and America,” said Steven Blockmans, head of foreign affairs at the European Center for Policy Studies.
Europe’s China problem is acute. The continent’s stagnating economies enjoy Chinese investment, but that always comes with the potential security risk of allowing state-owned Chinese companies like telecoms giant Huawei to work in Europe.
For its part, China is merely too happy to cement its position as a serious influence in Europe, home to a number of the most important economies on the earth .
Historically, China and Iran have good diplomatic relations. These improved after the signing of the JCPOA, as Chinese investment in Iran increased and continued even after Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal.
Something that China and Iran also have in common is poor relations with Trump. He has tried to marginalize both countries by getting into a trade war with one and imposing sanctions on the other.
Then again, he could be . Europe needs to have an extended , hard believe what the implications of a second Trump term might be . Four more years, sure. But what wouldn’t it mean for the long-term politics of the foremost powerful nation on earth, and may America ever return to how it had been before?
Complicating the choice for the EU, at least, is that the incontrovertible fact that one among its most powerful members is leaving the bloc in but a month. “The UK is leaving the EU at a time when Trump is trying to renegotiate the transatlantic relationship,” said Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “There’s a danger that as Britain leaves the EU, it puts getting trade deals in particular else.”
Sitting at the top of the UK’s list in terms of trade are the EU and the US – and the latter is a political priority for London. But most trade experts believe that a comprehensive deal with one sinks the possibilities of doing so with the other.
A good example of how difficult a balance this is”> this is often for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson can be seen in how he has both supported the US in its strike that killed Iranian military chief Qasem Soleimani, while also telling Tehran that he has every intention of continuous to support the JCPOA. It’s unclear how long maintaining both positions remains viable — especially within the wake of the deaths of four Britons among the 176 who lost their lives within the Tehran plane crash that Iran has admitted responsibility for.
The Iran crisis has pulled back the curtain and revealed the far more complicated shifting power dynamics facing Europe.
The EU wants to manage the China-US balance; the united kingdom wants to manage its US-EU balance and both the US and China want to shove one another out of the way for strategic primacy on the continent. And at the instant , it is the White House that’s acting with the foremost purpose.
In 1948, President Truman signed into law the Marshall Plan , which saw the US send Western Europe billions of dollars so as to rebuild itself within the aftermath of two world wars.
In 2020, another American president is arguably a far bigger disruption to the old continent than, China, Iran or Russia. What a difference 72 years can make.