Where's Germany?

Berlin is dragging its feet regarding tightening pressure on Iran.

September 17, 2007 19:35
3 minute read.
Where's Germany?

Ahmadinejad badass2 298. (photo credit: AP)

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said with respect to Iran, "We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst, sir, is war." He called for "more effective sanctions," as a follow on to President Nicholas Sarkozy's warning last month that the alternative is "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran." In addition to this tough talk, France claims it is finally beginning to reduce its economic ties to Iran by warning companies, including oil giant Total, against cutting new deals with Teheran. The problem, of course, is that there are no points for effort in this battle. The Iranian media boasts that it has received $37 billion in investments in its oil sector alone over the last two years. Iranian Oil Minister Gholam-Hussein Nozari claims, "We have got used to US sanctions and have learned how to handle them." Clearly, the Western sanctions effort is nowhere near where it should be to force Iran to back down. The welcome change in French attitudes, moreover, is not being matched by Germany, which in some respects is literally trying to demonstrate a "business as usual" approach. According to Haaretz, a conference entitled "Iran: Business Opportunities for German Exporters" opens today in Darmstadt, Germany, under the auspices of the Hessian state government and an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Germany exported about $5b. in good to Iran last year, representing a substantial growth in exports over the last six years. This year, German exports have reportedly dropped 20 percent, presumably due to the Western sanctions campaign. But Germany is dragging its feet, both economically and diplomatically, with respect to tightening the pressure on Teheran. As Reuters reported on Friday, "A split has emerged in the coalition of Western powers pressuring Iran to freeze its nuclear enrichment program, as France backs US calls for a new round of sanctions while Germany urges restraint." Germany is open to "giving Iran a chance to recover the international community's lost confidence in its nuclear program," a spokesman for its foreign ministry said. "If Iran is ready to do this ... then I think we can spare ourselves future sanctions debates." This sort of "give Iran a chance" rhetoric is offensive and absurd in light of Iran's open defiance of the international community. On August 21, the Iranian news agency (IRNA) quoted President Ahmadinejad promising to place nuclear technology "at the service of those who are determined to confront the bullying powers and aggressors." The Iranian newspaper Kayhan reported on September 12 that Ahmadinejad told Revolutionary Guard commanders that "some violent powers are now officially declaring they want to cooperate with the Iranian nation ... [acknowledging] Iran's status as a regional power. They must know, however, that Iran is a global power." [translations by www.memri.org]. The statements show that Iran is not even bothering to hide that it intends to give nuclear technology to terrorists who are "confronting" the West, and that its goal is not nuclear energy but world domination. France seems to be taking its head out of the sand. What about Germany? The recent alleged Israeli military operation in Syria seems likely to be related to the Begin Doctrine, namely, that Israel will prevent hostile powers from obtaining nuclear weapons. If Israel has, through this action, begun to demonstrate that it has the will and ability to defend itself, this should signal the world that there is no option of living with a nuclear Iran, only a choice between different paths toward preventing such an eventuality. It is, indeed, Israel's role to concentrate the West's mind and rule out a path of accommodation that would ultimately lead to a much more devastating conflict, as did the attempt to appease Nazi Germany. But this does not mean that Israeli military action is the ideal solution - far from it. Any such military operation, whether by Israel or not, is fraught with risks to Israel and other nations. If France, Germany, and the UK were to join the US trade embargo, impose stiff banking sanctions, and back calls, most recently by US presidential candidate Mitt Romney, to indict Ahmadinejad for incitement under the Genocide Convention, Iran could be forced to back down. Now that France is coming around, we would hope Germany would also be a leader in such an effort, and certainly that it not effectively place itself among nations that still claim to be baffled by Iran's intentions and are acting as helpmates in Teheran's bid for more and more time.

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