Saturday , March 28 2020
Home / Project Syndicate / PS Say More: Ana Palacio

PS Say More: Ana Palacio

Summary:
This week, Project Syndicate catches up with Ana Palacio, a former Spanish foreign minister and senior vice president and general counsel of the World Bank Group. Project Syndicate: You’ve argued that the European Union needs to recognize that the United States is an unreliable partner, and take action to bolster its own security. Now, after years of trashing NATO, US President Donald Trump says the Alliance must increase its involvement in the Middle East to rein in an Iran that, thanks to Trump’s own actions, is no longer bound by the 2015 nuclear deal. How should European NATO members respond?Ana Palacio: One of the unfortunate realities of Trump’s mercurial administration – and a leading source of global uncertainty – is

Topics:
Ana Palacio considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Bradford DeLong writes Yet Another Rant on Coronavirus & Trump

John H. Cochrane writes Group testing

[email protected] (Cyril Morong) writes HEB’s response is a masterclass in preparation and being ready to support your community

Nick Rowe writes Relative supply shocks, Unobtainium, Walras’ Law, and the Coronavirus

This week, Project Syndicate catches up with Ana Palacio, a former Spanish foreign minister and senior vice president and general counsel of the World Bank Group.

Project Syndicate: You’ve argued that the European Union needs to recognize that the United States is an unreliable partner, and take action to bolster its own security. Now, after years of trashing NATO, US President Donald Trump says the Alliance must increase its involvement in the Middle East to rein in an Iran that, thanks to Trump’s own actions, is no longer bound by the 2015 nuclear deal. How should European NATO members respond?

Ana Palacio: One of the unfortunate realities of Trump’s mercurial administration – and a leading source of global uncertainty – is that its pronouncements cannot be assumed to be authoritative or fixed. So his surprising and somewhat vague call for NATO to “become much more involved in the Middle East process” should be taken with more than a grain of salt. This is all the more true because Trump followed his initial call for greater NATO involvement in the Middle East with musings about enlarging the Alliance to include Middle Eastern states. There is no comprehensible picture here.

That said, America’s Western allies – and Europe, in particular – should be very concerned about the prospect of a large-scale US withdrawal from the Middle East. There have been worrying signs that the Trump administration is considering such a move – the most obvious being the leaked (and subsequently rescinded) letter from a US general suggesting that plans are underway to prepare troops to leave Iraq.

This would undermine efforts to keep the Islamic State in check and push regional powers even closer to Russia, reinforcing the Kremlin’s strategic position. To prevent this outcome, NATO’s European members should increase the Alliance’s presence in the Middle East, thereby bolstering security and providing tangible evidence of NATO’s value (and some political cover) to a US president who has consistently doubted it.

But NATO’s potential role in the Middle East is just the beginning. Europe must develop its own security identity. In light of recent weeks’ events – not only in Iran, but also in Libya –Europe’s need to take concerted action to strengthen its security is not a matter of opinion; it is a fact.

What was Europe’s role in the run-up to the targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani? Virtually none. America’s European allies, like the US Congress, had no clue what was going on until after the fact.

And Europe’s response since has been slow, mealy-mouthed, and generally feeble. Europe’s knee-jerk reaction to the erosion of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – to which Iran has announced it would no longer adhere – has been to cling to the dimming hope of preserving it. This speaks to a lack of ideas or vision.

I am a JCPOA supporter. As I have written, I believe that it was an innovative and positive approach to a difficult problem. But the world has changed since 2015. Europeans need to read the writing on the wall and adjust accordingly. While we need to support institutional and rules-based approaches, that cannot be our only note. I hope that the timing of this crisis – right at the beginning of a new “geopolitical” European Commission, as Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calls it – means that it will spur real action, rather than more of the usual empty rhetoric.

PS: You’ve underscored how Russian President Vladimir Putin has capitalized on America’s erratic foreign policy, including in Iran. In the wake of the recent Iran flare-up, what might Putin’s plans be, and how should Europe respond?

AP: Over the last decade, Putin has displayed a propensity to risk a little in order to gain a lot, by taking advantage of mistakes or inaction by the West. Looking at recent developments in Iraq and Iran – particularly the signs of de-escalation that followed the Iranian ballistic missile attack on air bases housing US forces in Iraq – I would expect Russia to do very...

Ana Palacio
Ana Palacio, a former Spanish foreign minister and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, is a member of the Spanish Council of State, a visiting lecturer at Georgetown University, and a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on the United States.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *