TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - “What is notable is that Europe is clearly breaking from the dominance of US economic and military power and pressures that has been the rule for decades. After Trump ended the Iranian nuclear agreement, under normal conditions, the Europeans may have been shy to extend such aid, for fear of a US backlash. With Trump’s, and America’s, reputation in shatters, more and more countries are losing their fear of US intimidation,” Myles Hoenig, who ran for the US Congress in 2016 as a Green Party candidate, told Tasnim.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: On August 23, the European Commission adopted a first package of €18 million for projects in support of sustainable economic and social development in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including €8 million assistance to the private sector. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “Since the renewal of the EU-Iran relations as a result of the Iran nuclear deal, cooperation has developed in many sectors. We are committed to sustain it and this new package will widen economic and sectoral relations in areas that are of direct benefit to our citizens”. What do you think about the package? How much could this help Iran?
Hoenig: How much it will help is far too early to say, but just the confidence that the European Commission has in such development does say a lot. Whether the sum is small or substantial it will go towards developing Iran in ways that have been neglected for quite some time, mostly due to the US sanctions.
What is notable is that Europe is clearly breaking from the dominance of US economic and military power and pressures that has been the rule for decades. After Trump ended the Iranian nuclear agreement, under normal conditions, the Europeans may have been shy to extend such aid, for fear of a US backlash. With Trump’s, and America’s, reputation in shatters, more and more countries are losing their fear of US intimidation.
Tasnim: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as special representative for Iran in charge of “Iran Action Group” to coordinate Trump’s pressure campaign on the Islamic Republic following Washington’s withdrawal from an international nuclear deal with Tehran. What’s your take on the action group?
Hoenig: Brian Hook personifies the Trump administration’s paranoia and vengefulness directed at those they feel are not supportive of Trump, and even more so, disloyal. Democrats have gone after Pompeo’s appointment of Hook because he has a reputation of retaliation against career State Department employees, according to Congress members Cummings and Engels. Trump’s foreign policy agenda is mostly defined as erratic. He has a love/hate relation with Russia and N. Korea; has insulted every major ally the US has, from Europe’s staunchest supporters to the Japanese; pulled out of international agreements; and has conducted a State Department never sure whether its leadership supports the careerists or the Trump name. How Hook’s appointment affects the Iran Action Group is far too early to assess.
Considering that in regards to foreign policy the Trump administration is trying to undo any ‘success’ that is attributed to Obama, such as the nuclear agreement with Iran, focusing on Iran is not a comforting sign. Most of those who now make up the Trump foreign policy team are dedicated to replacing war for diplomacy. On the surface, the Action Group is an ominous sign, as one never knows how a caged animal will react. The caged animal, in this case, is Trump with his legal and political predicaments. With talks of impeachment, forced resignations, and mid-term election disaster for Trump’s political party, military action against Iran would either be pushed as a way of deflecting his problems domestically, or pushed aside to deal with this potentially existential threat to his presidency.
Tasnim: President Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said on August 22 that the Europeans have to make a choice between the US and Iran in observing American sanctions. How much do you think Europe could resist?
Hoenig: America is respected by the Europeans, but not Trump. It is not in Europe’s interest to engage in any hostilities with Iran and having Trump in the White House is an easy way to show their independence from Washington. There are enormous trade potentials at stake, including losing to Russia and China if they were to pick up the pieces. One consequence of the Iran deal was to show the economic independence of the European market, and Obama and his State Department were wise enough not to alienate any and all involved in the deal.
Tasnim: Do you believe that a new round of talks between Tehran and Washington could change anything given to the fact that other parties of the JCPOA have remained committed to the deal?
Hoenig: The question is whether or not the US can afford to be even further isolated from the world community with regards, not just to Iran, but all others. Right now, the US foreign policy establishment is in crisis. Those that have been advocating for war are slowly pushing out those who take a more diplomatic approach. The war industries are eagerly waiting, and lobbying, for a more aggressive foreign policy. On the other hand, it would be in Trump’s interest to do a reversal of some kind with regards to Iran as he did with N. Korea. That was a brilliant move on his part as it showed the opposition party, the Democrats, unwilling to support a potential peace initiative, exposing them for their hypocrisy as claiming to be the party for peace yet have always advocated or supported war. Such a move regarding Iran would also discombobulate the Democratic Party leadership.