Saturday, November 10, 2007
Back At The Ranch
Frankly, I'm surprised to see Angela Merkel reach the Crawford Ranch before Nicolas Sarkozy. All the honor and glory of addressing Congress notwithstanding, I'm betting he's green with envy right about now. Especially given that the EU rumor mill has it that Angie and Nico don't exactly... get along?
After a tour of the property and a round of hamburgers, Merkel expressed support for a third round of UN sanctions if the IAEA reports Iran to the Security Council next week, as well as a very tepid agreement to possibly consider limited unilateral sanctions if absolutely nothing else imaginable shows even the slightest chance of getting Iran to... Well, you get the picture.
Be that as it may, Le Monde fills in some backstory on the visit, and the behind the scenes policy divergences, from the German and European perspective. Specifically, while Washington might be a little impatient with Merkel's reluctance to go along with unilateral sanctions (ie. those not imposed by the UN) as well as her restrained rhetoric, the Germans are convinced their approach is the most effective. As one of Merkel's parliamentary coalition members put it:
Everyone is criticising us for showing signs of weakness, especially in the United States. Meanwhile we're trying to keep the Russians and Chinese on board. (Translated from the French.)
Of course, the fact that Germany remains Iran's primary trading partner might have something to do with their reluctance to impose sanctions as well.
Meanwhile, Sarkozy, with his muscular rhetoric and willingness to go along with unilateral sanctions, has clearly become Bush's go to EU ally on Iran. His stance on unilateral sanctions is especially significant, as Hubert Vedrine pointed out in an article for Telos in September, since it would represent a major shift in French foreign policy doctrine, which until now has relied on multi-lateral and coalition-based consensus to legitimize all interventionist policies, which includes sanctions.