June 4, 2018 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 163

Germany Is Far Removed From Its Dark Past, But Its Iran Policy Is Sordid

June 4, 2018 | By Yigal Carmon*
Iran | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 163


If any country in the world could be expected to be extremely cautious about aligning with anyone calling for Israel's annihilation, it would be Germany, regardless of any extenuating circumstances – economic, political or otherwise. The Bundesrepublik should have distanced itself from any substantial tie with the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose murderous regime is threatening to annihilate Israel. Germany was the first country that should have told the morally relativistic Barack Obama that totalitarian regimes, like Germany's own Nazi regime, are beyond the pale, and should be denied any legitimacy, particularly when it comes to a nuclear deal with them. Germany's past should have enjoined her to openly take the moral lead in promoting regime change when dealing with a totalitarian regime such as Iran.

The reality is tragically the opposite. After rising from the ashes and becoming a stable humanistic democracy, Germany is supporting murderous totalitarian regimes. Germany, that preaches human rights to other countries – for example, to Saudi Arabia over its actions in Yemen, and rightly so – has shut its eyes to the notorious human rights violations in Iran, and to Iran's terrorizing and murder of its own citizens. Iran, of course, is a major partner, along with Russia, in the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century – the Assad regime's slaughter and displacement of millions of Syrians.

The reversal of the Obama-foisted Iran policy by the Trump administration provided Germany with a golden opportunity to reclaim its professed values. But the reverse happened: Germany is legitimizing Iran, even championing it.

What motivates Germany to adopt such a shameful and immoral policy?

A possible motivation is anti-U.S. sentiment that did not begin with Donald Trump, and that goes back decades. Trump, of course, greatly exacerbated this sentiment when he spoke of America First, demanded that Germany and other European states pay their way in NATO, and threatened to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. (Germany has in fact run up a trade surplus with the U.S. of $65 billion – the third largest surplus after China and Japan – but the Germans still feel that the tariffs are a hostile act against them).

Another catalyst may be the behavior of French President Emmanuel Macron, who is contending for EU leadership by means of a sometimes confrontational policy towards the U.S. Macron sees the Iran issue as an opportunity to undermine German leadership in Brussels after years of well-earned German hegemony in Europe.

Another explanation, which the Germans (and the French) are peddling to the world to justify their appeasement of Iran, is the desire to avert war. We heard this explanation ad nauseam during the 1930s. Iran lacks the military potential of Nazi Germany, and cannot mount a war against a moral Western coalition. This is evident from the Iranian response to the new American strategy against Iran enunciated by Pompeo; the Iranians are clinging to the agreement and to Europe as a defensive shield against the U.S. and its regional allies. It would be most unfortunate if Germany were to revert to the policy espoused by its former foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, and decide to serve as Iran's human shield.[1]

Regardless of Germany's motivations,[2] this is the moment for Germany to demonstrate national leadership and responsibility that rises above the petty considerations of boy wonder Macron's fit of pique against Trump, and builds a policy on its moral values. If it rises to the moment, Germany could isolate the Iran issue from other issues, and serve as a true global beacon of moral policy. There are other ways to resolve its abovementioned problems with the U.S., and even to take an assertive stand against Donald Trump on economic matters.

Unfortunately, Germany's grand government coalition and the opposition parties are united in defense of Iran and against the U.S. This shows the depths of Germany's moral eclipse and its ideological blinders. Democratic and humanistic Germany, the country that has welcomed so many desperate Syrian refugees, is far removed from its dark past, but its Iran policy is sordid. With regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is no new Germany.


*Yigal Carmon is President of MEMRI.

[1] See Mohamed ElBaradei, The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times, London: Bloomsbury Press p. 131.

[2] To Germany's credit, it is important to emphasize that, contrary to popular belief, its immoral policy towards Iran is based not on commercial considerations but on its political resentment towards Trump. Germany's trade with Iran is miniscule.

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