At Warsaw last week, the U.S. delegation, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, met with representatives of 60 countries. Together they forged a broad diplomatic coalition to advance the goal of ending Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program and other malign, destabilizing, and aggressive Iranian actions in the Middle East and around the world.
A video from the opening dinner, briefly posted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, showed the foreign ministers of Sunni Arab states — including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia — discussing the threat Iran poses to their countries and to the Middle East more generally in language indistinguishable from Israeli rhetoric on the issue.
Sitting at the dinner with Netanyahu, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister blamed Iran for the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The UAE’s foreign minister supported Israel’s bombing of Iranian targets in Syria. Saudi Arabia’s representative gave similar statements.
Noting the remarkable unanimity between Israel and the Arab states on Iran, former U.S. Middle East peace envoy, Ambassador Dennis Ross, who hosted the discussions at the dinner, wrote on his Twitter account, “At the Warsaw Conference, I conducted back to back discussions first with three Arab ministers and then with Israeli PM Netanyahu. Same room, same views of Iran’s aggressive, threatening posture in the Middle East, and unmistakable convergence of what should be done to counter it.”
At the Warsaw Conference, I conducted back to back discussions first with three Arab ministers and then with Israeli PM Netanyahu. Same room, same views of Iran’s aggressive, threatening posture in the Middle East, and unmistakable convergence of what should be done to counter it
— Dennis Ross (@AmbDennisRoss) February 14, 2019
Ross’s longtime deputy, Aaron David Miller, was similarly struck by the Arab-Israel diplomatic alliance. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Miller said, “What is so stunning, so preternaturally amazing is that at a time when there is no peace process and no prospect of one, and there is one of the most right-wing governments in Israeli history, and the [Trump] administration is waging a political and economic war against the Palestinians, Israel’s stock in the region and in the international community is higher now than at any point since the state was created.”
Noting the strategic realignment of the diplomatic map, with the U.S. leading a coalition of Arab states and Israel against Iran, Pompeo said, “It’s undeniable that Iran’s aggression in the region has brought Israel and the Arab states closer together. What I think was even more remarkable is that it didn’t feel at all that historic. It felt right, it felt normal because we were working on a common problem.”
The diplomatic coalition the Trump administration has forged against Iran is a major achievement. And it isn’t merely an Arab-Israeli coalition. European states also are playing a central role. The conference was held in Warsaw under the auspices of the Polish government.
The conference’s broad participation, and the until-recently unfathomable open cooperation between the Arab states and Israel, could have been expected to elicit excited coverage from the U.S. and European media. After all, an Arab-Israeli rapprochement has been the primary goal of Western governments for decades.
But the opposite is the case. The Economist dismissed the gathering as “Mike Pompeo’s shambolic summit in Warsaw.”
CNN proclaimed, “US commits another diplomatic fumble in Warsaw.”
Vox declared the U.S. the big loser of the conference: “The US held a global summit to isolate Iran. America isolated itself instead.”
And so on and so forth.
All of the media organs gave the same argument. The Warsaw conference was a flop because the European Union (EU) bureaucrats and bigwigs didn’t like it. EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini boycotted. France and Germany sent low-level representatives, and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt left early.
The EU remains unrepentantly committed to the nuclear deal that it concluded with Iran together with then president Barack Obama. No amount of U.S. pressure; no amount of proof that the deal was based on false premises, and that it fails to block Iran’s path to the bomb; no evidence that the deal helped fund Iran’s terrorism, regional aggression, and continuing nuclear program will convince the likes of Mogherini, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, or British Prime Minister Theresa May to abandon the deal.
The liberal media maintain that the Trump administration’s inability to date to convince these three governments and the EU central bureaucracy in Brussels to join it in its efforts against Iran means that the Trump strategy for dealing with Iran has failed.
This assertion is based on two assumptions. Both are wrong. First, it assumes that without the EU-3 and Brussels, the U.S. cannot achieve its goal of neutralizing the Iranian threat to global security. And second, it assumes that coalitions that are not supported by the EU-3 are worthless.
The ironic aspect to this line of reasoning is that the summit itself is proof that it is incorrect. Despite the EU-3’s open opposition to the conference, the Trump administration held it. And many countries participated. Not only that, the countries of the Middle East, Arabs and Israelis, who are most directly affected by Iran’s aggression, were willing to put aside their differences and openly work together under U.S. leadership to combat Iran.
Moreover, the conference demonstrated that Brussels and the EU-3 aren’t the power players they and their supporters in the Western media think they are. By holding the summit in Warsaw, the administration made clear that Brussels does not dictate the foreign policies of the EU member nations. Poland and other European governments are happy to work with the U.S. to achieve common goals, including neutralizing the threat that Iran poses to international security. France, Germany and the UK are not the only players in Europe; they are important, but not necessary. And to the extent that they continue to work against the U.S. by implementing their plan to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran and continuing to trade with the mullahs, the U.S. will not hesitate to sanction them.
The conference also exposed precisely where everyone stands on the issue of Iranian aggression, nuclear proliferation, and terrorism. The Sunni Arab states, Israel, the Poles, and other central and eastern European states stand with the U.S. against Iran.
The EU, Germany, France, and Britain stand with Russia, Turkey, Qatar, and the Palestinian Authority in siding with Iran against the U.S. and the coalition it leads.
The administration’s critics claim that exposing this basic truth undermines U.S. standing in the world. But in truth, it strengthens the U.S.’s position. The fact is that the EU openly opposes all efforts to weaken Iran and undermine the greatest state sponsor of terror. Mogherini and Merkel are not interested in adopting a policy that weakens Iran. Pretending otherwise, simply because Germany is America’s traditional ally, or because the U.S. is generally aligned with the EU, doesn’t advance the cause of diminishing the threats Iran’s behavior pose to the Middle East and the world more generally. It undermines efforts to weaken Iran.
The most remarkable aspects of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy is that by placing America’s interests at the top of his foreign policy agenda, Trump is not merely ensuring that U.S. interests aren’t sidelined in favor of those of other countries. He is rebuilding America’s alliance system. “Allies” who do not share America’s interests are called out for their hostility while actors that do share America’s interests are embraced. By standing with those who share its interests and walking away from those who do not, the Trump administration is vastly expanding the probability that the outcome of its foreign policies will be positive rather than negative.
The Warsaw conference is the first major conference that demonstrated this new alignment. The crowded stage, filled with officials from many front-line countries who support the Trump administration’s Iran policy, showed that the U.S. is succeeding.
Caroline Glick is a world-renowned journalist and commentator on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, and the author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. She is running for Israel’s Knesset as a member of the Yamin Hahadash (New Right) party in Israel’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 9. Read more at www.CarolineGlick.com.