Talk to any senior European Union official and you are sure to hear the Islamic Republic in Iran designated as “a threat to regional stability.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorses Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s assessment of Iranian behavior as “unacceptable.”
French President Emmanuel Macron insists that Iran should carry out UN resolutions by closing its ballistic missile project. And, yet, EU’s Iran policy, assuming such a thing exists, is plagued by contradictions.
The EU’s spokesperson for foreign policy, Ms. Federica Mogherini has devoted most of her immense energies operating as a lobbyist for the Islamic Republic. She has visited more than 30 countries to present the Islamic Republic as the poor little lamb facing the American big bad wolf. To show what a special place the mullahs have in her heart, when in Tehran, she wears the full Khomeinist hijab, but when she visits other Islamic capitals she unleashes her peroxide blonde hair in full evidence.
In private, EU officials dismiss that as childish symbolism. The problem is that symbolism does matter as much in politics as in poetics.
For example, when, just weeks after leaving office, Germany’s former Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel heads a delegation of European businessmen to Tehran and praises the Islamic Republic as a rock of stability in the Mideast, some in the Khomeinist leadership will see that as an endorsement of Tehran’s reckless adventurism.