Is the U.S. Losing Europe When It Comes to the Middle East?
Editor's Note: Along with other experts, GMF's Kristina Kausch responds to the question "Is the U.S. Losing Europe When It Comes to the Middle East?" in an interview with the Carnegie Middle East Center.
Yes, increasingly. While the transatlantic relationship has been strained over a wide array of issues, divergences over key Middle Eastern policy dossiers have been decisive in driving European and U.S. leaders apart. Although the core interests of the European Union and the United States in the Middle East remain aligned, trans-Atlantic fallouts over Iran, Palestine, and most recently Syria, have exposed a profound schism over the best way to pursue them.
European leaders have gone through three phases of dealing with Trumpism—namely denial, waiting it out, and active opposition. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas demanded last August that the Europeans should consciously balance U.S. President Donald Trump’s irresponsible policies, intervening as “a counterweight where the U.S. crosses red lines.” They already did so in response to Trump’s tough love approaches to Iran and Palestine, respectively. Europe’s diverging course on Iran reflects both disagreement over the most promising way to contain Tehran’s aggressive expansionism as much as it does a fundamentally different approach to international diplomacy. The vocal European opposition to the U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria is set to continue a pattern of balancing off what the Europeans consider to be Washington’s incendiary policy positions in an already inflamed Middle East.