The Munich Agreement between British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler was a historic example of political naivety that swept away Europe into four plus years of horror and destruction. Chamberlain’s arrogance and inane wishful thinking that he could somehow persuade Hitler against aggression in Europe, enabled the Nazis to do the opposite. Chamberlain, against vehement protests by Churchill, went ahead with the agreement. According to Chamberlain, Hitler sounded “reasonable”. Hitler’s rationality was based on the 1919 Treaty of Versailles which inadvertently forced 3 million Germans to live in Sudetenland, a region annexed after WW I to Czechoslovakia. Hitler was compelling in his argument that he wanted to save his countrymen and “unite” all Germans under one Germany. That sounded reasonable enough. Who could blame him for not accepting the Treaty?
On 30 September, 1938, Chamberlain capitulated and signed away Sudetenland in exchange for Europe’s greater good. The elusive “peace”. He basically handed Czechoslovakia and the rest of Europe to Hitler on the proverbial silver platter. A foolish decision based solely on Hitler’s word that once Germans in Sudetenland are annexed with Germany, there would be “…no more territorial demands to in Europe”. On October 1, 1938, German troops were in Sudetenland. Six months later Germany had taken over Czechoslovakia, and by 1939 Poland had also “embraced” Hitler’s united Germany. The rest is history.
Unfortunately, there is always a Chamberlain. Often a naïve arrogant fool under the impression that he or she can somehow turn thugs into reasonable allies. The European Union (EU) is our modern day Chamberlain. Social liberal elite and arrogant. A bad combination. French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron, decided to “invite” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the G-7 summit. According to the Washington Post, Zarif’s spokesman “tweeted” that the aim for the visit was to discuss the initiatives between France and Iran. At least Macron had the courtesy to ask for the US president’s approval, which the latter gave. But other G-7 leaders were kept in the dark. I guess only France has an interest in the “greater good”.
To put into perspective the 2015 Iran Deal: Iran was in a win-win situation. Years of sanctions and isolation deteriorated an already bad economy. Frozen assets and low oil prices brought the country to its economic knees. Internal malcontent among young Iranians seeking democracy did not help either. Images of protests and consequent arrests did not play well on the global scene. So why did the 2015 deal give Iran all the leverage?
According to a June, 2018 Washington Post column by Marc Thiessen, the Obama administration was behind the enticement. The administration, unbeknownst to Congress, sweetened the pot with several IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspection side deals and clandestine payoffs. These included the release of four American hostages in exchange for $400 million in global currency and $1.3 billion in cash. Senate investigators later found proof that OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) “encouraged” two US banks to convert Iranian assets. The banks refused citing US Federal compliance laws. All this happening under the Justice Department’s nose. The Obama deal also included the release of 21 Iran-born prisoners. President Obama said that it was a “gesture” of good will.
One must understand that at this point Iran had given nothing in return but make money on the release of four American hostages they had taken in the first place. In the meantime, the Iranian prisoners were portrayed by the Justice Department as being only “sanction violators”. Some of these “harmless” fellas had been convicted of selling various US technology to Iran, while others conspired with Hezbollah to buy and export arms to the regime. Among those freed was Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, who between 2005-2012 conspired to move US made sensors for uranium enrichment to Iran through China. The downplaying by the Obama administration of the prisoner release kept the insidious “peace” narrative going.
As we progress toward the next installment of a new Iran Deal, Iran continues to seize tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, while European leaders including Macron bow to Mullahs whose morning call to prayer includes Death to Israel. And that’s for starters. The EU seems to be very selective in their indignation on social liberal causes. Macron wants to sanction Brazil for the forest fires but little attention is given to Iran’s hard-line approach toward women and homosexuals. They flog the former and hang the latter. Not much of a peep out of either the EU or US mainstream media. No women’s marches or gay pride parades in support of Iranian suffragettes or murdered homosexuals. Why? The EU’s angst is more about energy and business opportunities than Iran’s human rights record, its support of Hezbollah, or the continual attacks on Israel.
The Institute for The Study of War gives a play by play report on Iran’s role in financing and supporting terrorist regimes in Syria and Lebanon. The Axis of Resistance is an Iran led alliance created to oppose Western interests; namely the US and Israel. Iran openly provides Hezbollah with materials, financial aid, training, and logistic support to the tune of $200 million a year. After Israel quasi disseminated Hezbollah in 2006, Iran and Syria rearmed them again which led to the current Hezbollah strong hold in Syria and Lebanon. This was no secret. Hezbollah’s prime objective was to start conflicts between the various Muslim factions in these countries for more territory. Hezbollah is also the main contributor to Assad’s regime. Iran supports Assad by proxy through Hezbollah.
Listening to Macron and the rest of the European leaders lament about an Iran deal is insufferable. None of them have come up with any sensible or tangible agreement that puts Iran’s feet to the fire for financing terrorism and worse. Iran still has active nuclear facilities, military bases, and underground sites. If a deal is to protect the region especially Israel, it must define unconditional provisions that can be verified and sustained. Iran’s support to Assad and destabilization of Lebanon by Hezbollah must also be addressed as conditions to any serious deal. Unannounced IAEA inspections of nuclear sites and underground facilities should be non negotiable. Finally, the right of Israel to exist should neither be debated nor sacrificed as a peace offering.
Hardly had the 2015 Iran Deal ink gone dry when German companies Siemens, Daimler, Volkswagen, and Thyssen Krupp landed in Tehran. They were wined and dined while contracts were drawn and promises made. They were accompanied by other market seekers and ministers from Italy, the UK, and Poland. The list read like the “who’s who” out of the society page in The New York Times. The courting of Iran by the EU was going in earnest. Then came Trump and the party was over.
It is no secret that the EU is looking for cheap energy and expanded business opportunities. Sanctions against Iran have run havoc with France’s main oil corporation, Total. Norway’s Statoil is in no better shape. European consumers pay an average of $8 a gallon for gas. The push toward alternative energy by environmentalists and green parties are holding countries hostage to unreasonable climate protectionism. Germany’s coalition government embraces climate initiatives while making deals with big Russian oil and French nuclear energy. Automobile markets, once the backbone of German production are now in a slump. Businesses are looking for new opportunities. Who can blame them?
One positive thing has come out of the G-7 meeting; a unanimous agreement that there must be a deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks sounded optimistically “reasonable”; but that is because US sanctions have again tightened up Iranian assets and his economy once again tanked. Maybe this time Iran really wants to play nice because it is broke. Maybe this is the perfect time to bring Iran back to the table on the west’s terms. The EU and the US have leverage because Iran is bleeding from the inside. In his remarks, Rouhani opened a small window of opportunity and possibly an olive branch. He said that no matter how low the odds are, “…we must move ahead with it (i.e a successful agreement)…We should not miss opportunities.” Touching. Another Chamberlain/Hitler moment or finally the truth?
Corbert, S., Hinnant, L., & Miller. Z. (August 26, 2019) Macron-G-7 gamble points to ‘road map’ out of US-Iran morass. Associated Press. Stars & Stripes. . Retrieved August 27, 2019 from: https://www.stripes.com/news/europe/macron-g-7-gamble-points-to-road-map-out-of-us-iran-morass-1.595931
Meyer, J., (April 24, 2017) Obama’s hidden Iran deal giveaway. Politico. Retrieved August 27, 2019 from: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/24/obama-iran-nuclear-deal-prisoner-release-236966
Sullivan, M., (ND) Hezbollah in Syria. Institute For The Study Of War. Retrieved August 27, 2019 from:http://www.understandingwar.org/report/hezbollah-syria
Thiessen, M. M., (June 8, 2018) Obama took lying to new heights with the Iran deal. The Washington Post. Retrieved August 27, 2019 from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obama-took-lying-to-new-heights-with-the-iran-deal/2018/06/07/b75f72d2-6a7c-11e8-9e38-24e693b38637_story.html