By: Ali A. Jenabzadeh

Great hypocrisy in idea of ‘alliance of the democracy’: Austrian professor

November 3, 2021 - 22:21

TEHRAN – In an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times, Austrian Professor Heinz Gartners says “there is a lot of hypocrisy involved in the idea of the alliance of the democracy.”

Gartners also notes that the Abraham Accords underlines the tendency towards a world with new alliances with a new polarization.

The following is the full text of the interview. 

Q: What are the implications of the AUKUS agreement in the relationship between Europe and the other three countries?

A: Let me start with saying that the international media is mainly focusing on the dispute between France and the three countries of AUKUS. I don’t think that is the most important thing. France feels betrayed, therefore France is angry. From a global perspective the broken agreement between France and Australia is mainly a side issue. When France is selling its arms it time and again breaks agreements and sells the weapons to somebody else. So this is basically normal.  

More important is that the present world is moving towards the building of alliances.  AUKUS is one regional alliance but there are all kinds of attempts to build alliances. It goes without saying that there are traditional alliances like NATO, but President Biden is also trying to shape an “alliance of democracies”. What he has in mind are countries that oppose the autocracies China or Russia. He has no problem to include non-democracies as partners, like communist Vietnam, or president Duterte’s Philippines or even Shri Modi’s India.

“Europeans could give a guarantee to keep up economic ties with Iran and not to participate in new sanctions, if the U.S. withdrew.”  

President Biden talked before the NATO summit about the “alliance of democracies” and he stressed the common values. At the same time the European Union criticizes the NATO members Tukey, Hungary and Poland because they do not meet the European values. There is a lot of hypocrisy involved in the idea of the “alliance of the democracy”.

The “alliance of democracies is very vaguely defined.  It is a geopolitical alliance underpinned by value arguments in order to have an ideology behind it. Similarly, the “Abraham Accords” are a geopolitical anti-Iranian alliance underpinned by presumed common Arab-Israeli values Therefore, they have economic and cultural implications. It goes without saying, that one of the logical consequences is that it has to ignore the interests of the Palestinians. One should not forget that it was Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. President Trump who were the architects of the “Abraham Accords”. A historical analogy might be the Treaty of St. Petersburg of 1907 which led to the Anglo-Russian division of sphere of Interests in Iran.

The attempt to form an alliance against Iran might be weakened by the new relations between Iran and Arab countries.  These “Abraham Accords” might be a side issue but it underlines the tendency towards a world with new alliances with a new polarization. It has all the features of a new Cold War. The old Cold War was the conflict between capitalism and communism, market economy and state economy, but was geopolitical in nature. Today’s polarization appears as conflict between democracies and non-democracies but it is also geopolitical. So today’s Cold War mirrors part of the old Cold War. 

There is a debate in the European Union about the so-called “strategic autonomy” which is basically a French idea to be a little more autonomous from the U.S. The focus of the debate is on how the European Union can achieve more military capacities. Also, the debate about the “strategic compass” of the European Union to be published in 2022 will be dominated by the question on how the European Union could become more militarily capable. The first reaction of EU officials to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was similar, that the European Union must have its own military capacities and that it  cannot rely entirely on the U.S. This is paradoxical because the 20- and 30-years interventions in Afghanistan of the Soviet Union, the U.S., NATO did not bring the expected changes. In contrast, the European Union must play first and foremost a diplomatic  role. It should remember the Helsinki Final Document of 1975, the beginning of the process of the “Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe” (CSCE), which later became the OSCE. It was a wonderful concept at the height of the Cold War. The document stressed cooperation and co-existence and the idea of common security instead of conflict. The document of 1975 did not mention the expressions “enemy, foe, rival, competitor”. Those appear in most of today’s security strategies and doctrines.

In the European Union there is an argument that it would not have diplomatic influence if it does not have military capacities. This argument has been proven wrong by the example of Qatar. Qatar is a small Persian Gulf country who is becoming a center of diplomatic activities when it comes to Afghanistan. Qatar has not much military capacities but it is able to organize diplomatic initiatives. Why shouldn't the European Unions be able to do same without huge military capacities. It was not the EU who set up follow-up conferences, but Moscow and Tehran.

It goes without saying that Europe needs some military capabilities for peace missions but the attempt to play a big geopolitical role is a wrong approach. The European citizens have a more reasonable view. According to a survey of the European Council on Foreign Relations a majority of 65 percent of the Europeans say that, when it comes to a conflict between China and the U.S., the Europeans should stay neutral. It goes without saying, that the European will not side with China in a military conflict. But Europeans should think twice to side with the U.S. in a conflict and even war, which will not be in their own interests but may be in a framework of an alliance policy. European citizens are smarter than the politicians!

Q: Are we actually talking about a new form of relationship between the Europeans and the U.S. in which trust does not exist as before because it was not the first time that the U.S. betrayed the European countries?

A: The governments, including France, try to have strong transatlantic bonds but especially Germany independently of the incumbent government. Of course, the EU debates the strategic autonomy because they know they cannot rely entirely on the U.S., but it will not be a rift. Basically, until the Iraq war of 2003 the Europeans were silent and accepted everything the U.S. did, including the atrocities of the U.S. in the Vietnam War. 2003 was a different case. There was some suspicion on the part of the French but also the Germans regarding their interests. In the Libyan case the German delegation abstained in the UN Security Council. In many ways German officials regret this decision today because it deviated from the transatlantic solidarity. But I don’t think there is a big rift. There will be differences maybe more than before. 
The Europe Union is an economic power but it does not play the role of an economic power. For example, the EU should request from the U.S. to lift the secondary sanctions so that they can act more independently and do businesses with Iran without being punished. 

Regarding the JCPOA, Iran wants to get a guarantee from the U.S. that they would not withdraw from it again. This is not possible because the U.S. political system does not allow that the incumbent American president to give the guarantee for the next president. But the Europeans could give a guarantee to keep up economic relations with Iran and not to participate in new sanctions, if the U.S. withdrew. 

Q: What are the effects of the AUKUS deal on the NPT. Does it violate it?

A: There are some ambiguities here we don’t know really. I do not have enough information whether the participants of this deal have notified the IAEA. Nevertheless, nuclear driven submarines can be classified as nuclear weapons, what would violate the NPT, since Australia is a non-nuclear weapon state.  Highly enriched uranium is used. If push comes to shove, nuclear missiles will be deployed on these submarines. They are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Then this pact would become a nuclear weapons pact. 

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