Facing disaster in Iran, Europe must finally make the hard choices

The EU waffles while Washington and Tehran move towards war. Yet Europe has a big stick if it is willing to use it


The EU waffles while Washington and Tehran move towards war. Yet Europe has a big stick if it is willing to use it

This article originally appeared in The Guardian

Europe is slouching towards another foreign policy disaster on the scale of Iraq. This disaster is called Iran. It comes in two variants. Variant one is that the US bombs Iran before George Bush leaves the White House in January 2009. Variant two is that Iran acquires a nuclear bomb. Most Europeans are hyper-alert to the first danger and blind to the second. We should be acting now, urgently and decisively, to fend off both. Instead, we are sleepwalking to a cliff’s edge.

I don’t need to spell out the manifold perils of military action nor, I hope, to emphasise that no moral equivalence between Tehran and Washington is implied. But why don’t we also grasp the other danger? A quarter of a century ago millions of people flooded through the streets of Bonn, London and Rome to protest against the deployment of American nuclear missiles – and even against civilian nuclear power. (“Atomkraft? Nein, Danke.”) Now a fissiparous, unstable and increasingly militarised Islamic regime, whose president has called for Israel to be removed from the map, is deliberately proceeding towards the threshold where it could, if it chose, swiftly take the last step to having a nuclear weapon. Among the probable consequences would be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, with Sunni Muslim powers such as Saudi Arabia deciding they need their own.

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