Since WWII, the U.S. has protected West Germany with American troops and its nuclear umbrella against the Soviet Union’s expansionist ambitions. Germany was considered a western ally that would side with its U.S. protector when facing an Iranian radical terrorist regime with nuclear ambitions. In recent years however, the German government seems to prefer dealing with Iran, rather than join with the U.S. Currently, many in the Berlin government believe that the U.S., not Iran, is escalating the current tension between Washington and Tehran. Germany’s obstructionism vis-a-vis U.S. efforts to restrain the leading state sponsor of global terrorism – Iran, had prompted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cancel a visit to Germany last month. According to the German weekly Der Spiegel, “The Americans are currently escalating their conflict with Tehran - with unpredictable consequences for their allies in Europe.” To some in the German government it appears that Iran’s deliberate (direct or indirect) hand in attacking oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is of no consequence. Similarly, Iran’s pushing Hamas to fire rockets at Israel’s southern towns to kill Israeli civilians last month, is not a problem for the Germans.
Jurgen Tritten, a Green Party member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Parliament, commented that “The U.S. appears to be looking for a pretext to escalate the conflict with Iran.” He added, “The claim that Iran is planning an attack against the U.S. smacks of a Tonkin incident.” (A reference to the Gulf of Tonkin Congressional Resolution, enacted on August 10, 1964, which gave President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization without a formal declaration of war, to use military force in Southeast Asia, and Vietnam in particular.)
Unlike the Iran appeasement mode displayed by the German government and Jurgen Tritten, the U.S. is sending an aircraft carrier strike force and Air Force bombers to the Middle East, not to threaten war with Iran but rather the opposite, to deter the radical Iranian regime from continuing its provocative actions against U.S interests that might lead to a war, including attempts to seize U.S. naval vessels. In January 2016, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) captured two U.S. naval vessels and held 10 U.S. sailors hostage. John Bolton, U.S. national security adviser pointed out that sending the carrier task force is “a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on U.S. interests or those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
The Iranian regime has made a mockery out of the Iran Nuclear Deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), by preventing intrusive inspections in Iranian Military facilities, and the development of long-range ballistic missiles that can reach Israel, and Europe, and ultimately the U.S. It is no longer hard to gauge the extent of Iran’s nuclear development. In April 2018, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israeli intelligence had acquired tens of thousands of files which proved that Iran had lied about its nuclear weapons program. The files proved that Iran is secretly continuing its nuclear program under the nose of international inspectors. Netanyahu said, “We have known for years that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program called Project Amad. We can now prove that Project Amad was a comprehensive program to design, build, and test nuclear weapons. We can also prove that Iran is secretly storing Project Amad materials to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons.”
It is interesting that Germany, and German officials such as Jurgen Tritten are concerned about the U.S. deterrent actions but have expressed little concern about Iran’s cheating on the nuclear deal, which Berlin has been very protective of. German officials believe that Iran is reacting with restraint to pressure from the U.S., and that Iran’s announcement that it would no longer abide by the limit for the storage of enriched uranium and heavy water, “is not immediately relevant.” With the Iranian Supreme Leader not only threatening to break the nuclear accord, but actually breaking it by secretly cheating with its Project Amad, only reveals German appeasement and hypocrisy. Berlin has been rather quiet about Iranian terror instigation in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, not to mention Tehran’s nefarious terror actions on European soil.
The Europeans, led by Germany, established a special purpose vehicle called Instex, as a way to bypass U.S. sanctions, and sidestep the American financial system. Germany is keen to preserve the Iranian regime, which executes more people including children, than virtually any other country in the Middle East and beyond. It is second only to China in such executions. A regime, which denies religious freedom to many of its people, and oppresses its ethnic and religious minorities, is a gross violator of human rights.
The German government has also taken issue with the U.S. Middle East policy with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. German politicians are seemingly unhappy with the Trump administration's closing of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, as well as discontinuing funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians, also known as UNRWA. (UNRWA has been an enabler of Palestinian radical education, a hot bed for future terrorists, and the perpetuation of Palestinian dependency). Moreover, Germany’s foreign policy establishment expressed displeasure with the U.S. moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and U.S. recognition of Israeli control of the Golan Heights. In fact, Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., accused the U.S. at a March 2019 meeting of the UN Security Council of “violating international law.”
In the meantime, Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on June 18, 2019 that Chancellor Angela Merkel said that there is “strong evidence” that Iran carried out the attacks on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. She warned Iran that if it violated the 2015 International nuclear deal there would be consequences to its actions. At the same time however, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that “Germany was still evaluating the evidence before coming to any conclusions.” The divergent statements by Merkel (leader of the Christian Democratic Union-CDU) on one hand and her coalition partner Maas (of Social-Democratic Party SPD) represent Germany’s attempt to appease both the U.S. and Iran.
Germans have registered decreasing solidarity with the U.S., especially among younger Germans, particularly after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent U.S. departure from the Paris Climate Accords. A survey by the Pew Research Center and in Germany by the Korber-Stiftung in the fall of 2018, showed that Germans are much more negative toward the U.S. than Americans are about Germany. 73% of Germans said that relations with the U.S. are bad. About 75% of Germans are also convinced that a foreign policy path independent of the U.S. is preferable to the two countries remaining close allies.
The above survey reflects essentially a German mindset that strikes a moral equivalency between an American democracy with its western values, and the theocratic dictatorship of the ayatollahs of Iran. It begs the question on whose side is Germany anyway.