By Payman Yazdani

Europe is well advised to care for its own security: expert

February 15, 2017

TEHRAN - A leading scholar believes that NATO is “outdated” and suggests that Europe should care about its own security, especially as Donald Trump, whom he described as “unreliable”, has taken the helm at the White House.

“Europe is well advised to care for its own security within such an environment,” says Arshin Adib-Moghaddam who is professor in global thought and comparative philosophies and chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies at the London Middle East Institute.

Following is the text of his interview with the Tehran Times: 

Q: Will U.S.-NATO relations go through difficulty during the Trump presidency?
 
A: I contemplated a long time ago if the “west” as an idea and a military reality institutionalised in NATO still exists. NATO was a Cold War invention that was nurtured by the ideologically tired slogan that the United States is the “leader of the free world”. With the Trump presidency any residues of this idea are quickly evaporating. Trump stands for unfreedom, authoritarianism and misogyny. Without the ideological stamina of the “west”, as an idea associated with freedom, NATO as an institutional outfit exists merely as an outdated, hollow organisational outfit, much like an abandoned house without an owner. Europe is well advised to care for its own security within such an environment. But security can’t be reduced to military deterrence. Europe has to continue to pursue an activist diplomacy geared to reducing tensions with Russia’s imperial impulses which are as disturbing for global security as its western counter-part.

“The biggest challenge for the world in general and Iran in particular will be to deal with a foreign policy that will be erratic, characterised by eclectic tactics, rather than stable strategies. “
Q:  Will the “pivot to Asia” strategy blemish in the Trump era?
 
A: Trump has said a lot in his campaigns and I don’t think that he will pursue such radical, ill-fated policies in the short term. Asia will continue to be an important strategic theatre for the United States. The biggest challenge for the world in general and Iran in particular will be to deal with a foreign policy that will be erratic, characterised by eclectic tactics, rather than stable strategies. This is because the Trump administration will operate like a cloistered sect, with a politically illiterate leader. There won’t be much penetration from critical, intelligent voices because the circle is hermetically closed like a clan that huddles together to avoid facing reality. This President has an authoritarian mindset, within a democratic context that doesn’t allow him to follow up on his instincts. So whether it is Europe or Asia, this president is unreliable and this is the biggest threat to the global security of our era.

Q: Will Washington’s allies follow Trump if his administration abrogates the nuclear deal (JCPOA)?

A: No. The Trump administration would be isolated. There is no appetite in Europe to JCPOA, the agreement which is a multilateral agreement, guaranteed by the United Nations Security Council. Iran has to equip itself with even more diplomatic prowess to combat any movement towards questioning the JCPOA. Our embassies have to be staffed with active cultural attaches, the foreign ministry has to be even more present in all venues of global affairs, and there needs to be a coordinated cultural policy geared to the policy of peace. Peace needs to enter the vocabulary of Iranian decision makers by far more, in particular with reference to the region. The tragedy of the people in Syria and Yemen is unacceptable.

“Trump administration will operate like a cloistered sect, with a politically illiterate leader.”Q: How will the China-U.S. relations be in the Trump era?
 
A: Rocky. As indicated, this presidency will be characterised by erratic, short term tactics without much strategic depth. China will continue to create facts on the ground, in order to meet any future crisis. The Trump administration will calibrate its policies towards China, from a pseudo-economic perspective. There will be a lot of emphasis on the trade deficit between the two countries, and he is likely to use the issue of Taiwan to provoke concessions from China in the economic realm. Trump thinks he is a good business man and he has to be approached as such. The problem is that he is not, and that it is always difficult to deal with a man who appears to be far removed from the realities and complexities of this world. Think him a wiley dealer on the black-market of the Tehran bazaar. Iranians know how to deal with those.

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