FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump’s EU Doormats

Photo by European People’s Party | CC BY 2.0

All of Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson’s entreaties and demonstrations of affection to President Donald Trump were utterly pointless. He responded by humiliating them. Now, he threatens trade and financial reprisals if they fail to break the deal their countries made with Iran three years ago.

Trump has reversed the US’s position, and its allies must fall into line. Seen from Washington, the UK, France and Germany are unimportant, or anyway far less important than Saudi Arabia or Israel.

In Les Chemins de la liberté (The Roads to Freedom), Jean-Paul Sartre wrote: ‘When a man admits his guilt, you always feel like hitting him, to smash what little dignity he has left.’ That holds true for countries, including those of the European Union. Macron says he refuses to talk ‘with a gun to [his] head]’, while Merkel finds it unfortunate that Trump has made things ‘even more difficult’ in the Middle East.

Yet neither seems able to respond with anything but whining. Europe’s major business corporations feel obliged to comply with the White House, since even sending an email via a server in the US or using dollars in a transaction with Iran will make them liable to enormous fines.

No sooner had Trump announced his decision than Total, formerly Compagnie Française des Pétroles, cancelled plans to invest in Iran. At that same moment, Macron, while pretending to look for a way to maintain the agreement, admitted:

‘I would like to be very clear: we are not going to impose sanctions or counter-sanctions on American companies … And we are not going to force [French] companies to stay [in Iran]. That’s the reality of business. The president of France is not the CEO of Total’ (1).

The latter, it seems, takes his orders from the White House.

Our weary political commentators have drawn from this episode the lesson that the EU needs to become stronger (2). But the bigger and more institutionalised it gets, the less it is able to refuse orders from the US. In 1980 the nine members of the European Economic Community took a position on the Middle East, recognisingthe national aspirations of the Palestinian people; on 14 May this year, four member states, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania, sent representatives to the inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, while the Israeli army was killing civilians in Gaza; and lest anyone forget, in 2003, 15 of the EU’s current 28 members took part in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

The EU is constantly toughening its convergence criteria but, as the fall-out of Trump’s decision made clear, always forgets one: the need for its members to be independent and sovereign.

More articles by:

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail