Europe loses its moral compass

The EU transformed itself into an Iranian tool after the Trump administration rejected its calls to receive exemptions from the new financial penalties.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at talks in Vienna May 14, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS)
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at talks in Vienna May 14, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One could not be faulted for assuming that the leaders of a self-defined progressive continent on which the worst genocide in modern history was perpetrated only decades ago would be more predisposed to siding with the United States, the world’s foremost purveyor and guarantor of freedom, than with Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, which repeatedly has vowed to finish off Hitler’s work by eradicating the lone Jewish state.
But one would nevertheless be wrong.
On Monday, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, in conjunction with the top diplomats of Britain, France, and for that matter, Germany, released a joint statement expressing “deep regret” over the re-imposition of American sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran,” the politicians wrote. “This is why the European Union’s updated Blocking Statute enters into force on August 7 to protect EU companies… from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions.”
The “blocking statute” – a law enacted in one jurisdiction to obstruct the application of a law enacted in another jurisdiction – essentially prohibits EU firms from complying with US sanctions and provides mechanisms that allow businesses to recover any resulting damages while negating potential foreign court rulings against them.
For good measure, the EU committed to the “preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas.”
The EU transformed itself into an Iranian tool after the Trump administration rejected its calls to receive exemptions from the new financial penalties; which, in turn, followed months of EU groveling to Tehran in the form of a “negotiating process” aimed at devising a sufficiently large bribe to entice the Islamic Republic to remain in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
All of this was precipitated when US President Donald Trump in May defied the international community by withdrawing Washington from the atomic pact and vowed to re-impose sanctions on the Iranian regime. The first batch was set to come into effect at midnight Tuesday Eastern Standard Time, barring Iran’s purchase of American dollars as well as its trade in gold and precious metals, among other things. A second installment targeting Tehran’s crucial energy and shipping sectors will take effect in November.
Since Trump nixed the nuclear accord, Iran’s currency, the rial, has lost half of its value, a major reason for growing civil unrest in the country. Moreover, despite Brussels’ capitulation, European businesses have left the Iranian market en masse, placing tremendous stress on an already fragile economy.
And things are about to get worse for the regime, which continues to sow death and destruction via its proxies in Syria – where the Revolutionary Guard Corps has directed Syrian President Bashar Assad’s annihilation of his own people – as well as in Iraq and Yemen. Iran is already the effective sovereign in what is known as Lebanon, projecting its rule through its Hezbollah underling, which controls the government and armed forces.
While Iran has been on the march since agreeing to the 2015 nuclear accord – for which it received a windfall of about $100 billion – its situation has become increasingly precarious since Trump assumed office. Now, with protests erupting nationwide and as its economy teeters on the verge of collapse, Tehran reportedly has been conducting back-channel negotiations with the White House through intermediaries in Oman. Israeli media reported that Trump may even meet his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani next month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
In other words, Iran’s back is up against the wall – precisely where it was before the Obama administration and the Europeans threw the mullahs a lifeline in the form of a grossly inadequate agreement that completely ignored Tehran’s past atomic activities and failed to rein in its regional expansionism and illicit ballistic missile program.
And just when the rogue nation is starting to feel the pain again, Europe is once more doing its utmost prop up the mullahs.
Essentially, the EU has taken the side of Russia, China and North Korea, and for what?
Iran obviously is a big marketplace and the EU has destroyed its own financial clout through the implementation of socialist policies; but there is no question that the bloc can weather the storm, as was the case when sanctions previously were leveled against the Islamic Republic.
Perhaps, then, the EU fears that turning a blind eye for 30 years to the activities of Hezbollah on its soil may come back to haunt it. Indeed, it became evident last month that Iran’s malignancy has spread across the bloc when an Iranian diplomat based in Austria was arrested for plotting a terrorist attack in France.
An equally persuasive argument, though, is that the EU is simply acting out of spite, out of great disdain for Trump. There is no love lost between Brussels and Washington, and the American leader has not held back from criticizing traditional US allies. But acting out of malice when the fate of millions of lives are at stake is the very definition of reckless.
Whereas Europe clearly has not learned the lessons of its past, at least today the US’s moral compass seems intact. For its part, the Jewish people is again at the intersection of the boundaries of good and evil.
This time, it may be Israel that reminds Europe where the line is drawn.
The author is the managing editor of The Media Line, an American news agency focusing on the Middle East.