Saturday, June 23, 2018

Persuasion, Not Coercion, Is the Way to Get European Support for Sanctions on Iran

Persuasion perfume spray image (not from entry) from

In withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran, the Trump administration reinstituted U.S. sanctions that include penalties on European corporations that do business with the Islamic Republic. While these measures certainly have their utility, argue Michael Doran and Peter Rough, Washington would be better served by trying to persuade European governments that they ought to join in efforts to contain the Islamic Republic:
It has been more than a decade since senior American officials traveled to Europe with the explicit purpose of explaining the threat Iran poses and the necessity of extraordinary Western actions to counter it. Whereas America had a vigorous debate around the Iran deal, European elites sanctified it, and the Obama administration praised them for it.

Over the past year, the Trump administration’s message about the deal has been less than consistent. . . . [European leaders’] current complaint, that President Trump turned over the card table and pulled out his revolver, is self-serving but understandable. Trump should now make it an urgent priority to dispel this image. ...

In addition to blasting the supposed brazenness of the U.S. withdrawal, European leaders allege that it violated international law, as they claim Iran had complied with its terms. That charge is specious, and the U.S. should refute it vigorously. Israel’s daring capture in January of information on Iran’s nuclear program confirmed that Tehran had violated the nuclear deal and the international nonproliferation treaty. The captured information proves that Iran never offered a full accounting of the past military dimensions of its nuclear program.

Instead of launching a public-diplomacy [JB emphasis] campaign to inform Europeans of these revelations, however, U.S. and Israeli officials allowed critics to mobilize and dismiss the Israeli discoveries as inconsequential. Energy Secretary Rick Perry should respond now by launching a road show to highlight Iran’s alarming deceptions. ...

Even a successful campaign of persuasion will never convince the Europeans that they aren’t being coerced. It can, however, soften their resentment. And a high-level overture to Europe would in itself send a positive message. It would show Europeans that despite the disagreement about Iran, the U.S. still respects them. Especially after the bruising G-7 summit, a little tenderness could go a long way.

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