It’s time for Europe to step up

Although time is measurable, it is still a subjective phenomena; five minutes for one person can be longer or shorter than five minutes for another. This is true not only for individuals but also for groups and even states. Leaders, groups and states value time differently based on an analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). This is precisely the reason why no two countries can completely agree on diplomatic or (to a further extent) military policies.

A SWOT analysis for each country or region concerning the possible upcoming confrontation surrounding Iran would probably look like this:

Threats

Opportunities

Weaknesses

Strengths

Country/Region

Nuclear or military extinction because of geographical size & proximity to Iran & surrounding neighbors.

Re-assertion of  Israel as the only true Western and democratic ally in the Middle East.

War-weary public and open criticism against war-mongering.

A strong army, strong western allies, and its back against a wall (both a strength and threat).

Israel

War and civil/”dirty” bombs casualties and loss of respect worldwide.

Re-assertion of  the US as the dominant force in the world.

War-weary public and a struggling economy.

The most powerful army in the world and its nuclear arsenal.

US

War and civil/”dirty” bombs casualties and loss of respect worldwide

Re-assertion of Europe’s dominance at the US’s side.

An economic and identity crisis weakening the structure of the EU.

A huge power house if united and legitimacy to the Western world.

EU

War casualties, loss of respect by allies and loss of control at home.

Lead a “global change” by uniting third world and Islam.

Sanctions leading to an economic disaster and public unrest.

The missile program, NAM allies and its back against the wall.

Iran

Loss of respect from all states leading to possible dissolution of the UN.

Re-assertion of the UN as the ultimate world governing body.

Weakened every time states disobey or dismiss UN resolutions.

Still the largest global governing organization in the world.

UN

From the table above it is quite easy to understand how the perception of the time remaining until  a conflict arises is not the same for all; Iran is rushing for time with Israel hot on its heels, while in parallel the US, the EU and the UN waiting to see what will develop.

According to Israel time is running out fast: delaying a preemptive strike on Iran beyond June 2013 would ensure Iran’s entrance to the zone of nuclear immunity changing forever the status quo that gives Israel its breathing space to live and grow. It is this sense of urgency that permeates Israel’s outlook, rhetoric and diplomatic strategy leading Israeli prime-minister Benjamin Netanyahu to draw red lines and pressure the US administration to do the same. In short, Israel’s SWOT analysis leads to one conclusion- deal with Iran now because it will be impossible to deal with Iran later.

The US, on the other hand, wants more time: time for the UN-backed sanctions to pressure the Iranian regime to forego its nuclear ambitions, time to get more concrete details on Iran’s nuclear program and time to get the national elections over with. The US clearly hears the warning bells vocalized by Israel and the IAEA, but it does not want to speed into a conflict which may be avoided if the Iranian regime buckles under the pressure of sanctions.

Iran has a much more complicated outlook on time: On one hand, the Iranian regime is trying to buy time in order to complete its nuclear program, on the other hand, time to complete the program is becoming increasingly shorter due to both the Iranian economy and its citizens, not being able afford the UN-imposed sanctions for much longer. Iranian leaders are buying for time by being anything but transparent with their nuclear program and by keeping opposition leaders and civil unrest under wraps. At the same time, the Iranian regime is wooing whoever is ready to listen and whoever has a belly-full on Imperialists/Colonialists (the US, EU and Israel) to give it more leeway in the UN and perhaps, later on, in the military field.

The EU countries, in general, opt for an “ostrich” strategy hoping that if they bury their heads in the sand something positive will happen. Yes, the UK and France have issued “we are worried” statements on Iran, but Europe seems to be too busy with its looming economic and identity crisis to look beyond its borders. What they do not want to realize is that by shutting themselves out of the Iranian equation, they are polarizing this conflict between Iran and the US/Israel and are legitimizing Iran’s repeated transgressions regarding its nuclear ambitions. Once Iran does gain nuclear immunity, the stakes will rise and Europe will have no choice but to side against Iran but by then, it will be too late.

For the reasons above, the key to averting a conflict with Iran lies in the EU’s pockets. However, shortsightedness and procrastination are causing EU leaders to either forget that the key is there, or worse, to be afraid of being seen with the key in hand. By relinquishing the responsibility of stopping an impending War- WW3, EU leaders  will be responsible for allowing it to occur, just as Chamberlain and the rest of the European leaders were deemed responsible for not averting WW2.

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