Thursday, February 13, 2020

Germany can’t stop loving Iran but should stop courting the country that denies the Holocaust

Matthias Küntzel via Tablet Magazine:
Last week, Germany’s president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, mistakenly congratulated the Iranian regime on the 41st anniversary of the Khomenist revolution that established the Islamic Republic of Iran. On Feb. 7, the president announced that this year he would not send a congratulatory telegram to Iran’s rulers. But Steinmeier’s change of heart was too late—according to the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel, a congratulatory telegram had already been sent by the Federal President’s Office to the German Embassy in Tehran and then forwarded to the Iranian authorities due to a “breakdown” in the communication system.

The contradiction between the delivery of the official congratulations and the German president’s public attempt to disavow the substance of its message revealed the Janus-headed nature of Germany’s relationship to Iran. If there is any country that might be expected to distance itself from Iran, it is Germany because of its history and its special relationship with Israel. But the opposite is the case. Germany of all European countries is also the weakest link in the chain when it comes to renewed sanctions. Why? […]

Back in the 1990s, when the Clinton administration launched a major diplomatic campaign against the threat of an Iranian bomb, this fact was not just puzzling, but a serious bone of contention. In 1995, President Bill Clinton prohibited all American firms from trading with Iran—an effort at sanctions that was systematically undermined by intensified German exports to Iran. Hossain Mousavian, Iran’s ambassador to Germany at that time, mischievously recorded the great delight this caused in Tehran: “Iranian decision-makers were well aware in the 1990s of Germany’s significant role in breaking the economic chains with which the United States had surrounded Iran. … Iran viewed its dialogue and relations with Germany as an important means toward the circumvention of the anti-Iranian policies of the United States.”

In September 2004, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer from the Green Party confirmed Mousavian’s assessment in a speech disseminated by the German government: “We Europeans have constantly advised our Iranian partners in their own well-founded interest to view us as their protective shield.” Europe as the shield between Iran and America: Not to protect the United States from the Islamists, but the Islamists from the United States. Such a metaphor could only occur to someone who sees America as the adversary and the Khomenist revolution as meriting protection. [..]

On Jan. 15, 2020, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas explained how he sees this difference in the Bundestag: “We rely on reasonable diplomacy instead of maximum pressure” like the United States does. Maas forgot to add that Germany has no other choice. Germany is an economic superpower but a military dwarf. As soon as there is a threat of military action, Germany is no longer relevant. Maas, however, presents this shortcoming as a moral triumph: The Iran nuclear deal is held up as the best example of the correctness of the German insistence that changes can only be achieved through dialogue. Little thought, however, is given to what exactly 40 years of “dialogue with Tehran” have actually achieved. […] 
Instead of clinging to the failed JCPOA, whose provisions will soon expire anyway, Germany should use the end of this deal as an opportunity to fundamentally change its policy on Iran. Its current relationship is not based on a rational consideration of interests, but on nostalgia, illusion, and disregard for Israel’s survival interests. It is time to finally support those who are rising up against the Iranian terrorist regime instead of the butchers in the regime. It is necessary to use severe sanctions to force the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons ambition, so as to avoid the alternative of war. Finally, the need for the country that was responsible for the Holocaust yesterday to stop courting the country that denies the Holocaust today is long overdue.
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