Analyse and essay
The recent effort by France, the United Kingdom, and Germany to create a financial mechanism designed to bypass U.S. extraterritorial sanctions on Iran reveals an increasing need for self-assertion vis-à-vis the United States. For months, Europeans have been seeking ways to preserve the nuclear deal despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from it. Their efforts have less to do with policy towards Tehran than with positioning the European Union in relation to the U.S., and with visions of Europe itself as an international player.
Not that the Europeans consider the Iran issue unimportant—quite the opposite. It is precisely because the Iranian nuclear agreement is the main, if not the only, success of the EU’s barely existent foreign policy that Europeans could not afford to sacrifice it to their habitual alignment with the United States—at least not without a fight—for fear of losing the little international credibility they might still salvage.