When Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran Nuclear deal last year, it’s not quite certain he expected the United States’s European allies to follow suit. Not only have the European parties to the accord – France, Britain and Germany – stuck with the Iran, this week they announced a ‘special purpose vehicle’ which will allow Iran to circumvent sanctions imposed by USA and continue dealing with the international financial system through a ‘credits system’.
The implications for the international system are not immense in itself. Other countries such as China and India have found ways in the past to circumvent sanctions on Iran. However, in terms of larger trends, the divergence between the interests of the United States under Donald Trump and Europe seem to be growing wider by the day. While not quite a rift, it is certain that European countries are determined to follow their own directions in terms of policies and relations when it comes to dealing with Asian Powers.
Geography is not destiny but it definitely determines its course. It should be kept in mind that Europe is fundamentally a peninsula in the west of the Eurasian landmass. While the United States can present itself as a Pacific Ocean state, and claim to be a resident power in East Asia, dealing with nations of the newly constructed Indo-Pacific directly, for Europe, the heartland of Eurasia still remains important. As it was during the age of European imperialism.
In the near future, one should naturally expect more divergence from the United States in Europe’s relations with other powers too, including China.
While the idea of a China-EU G2 seems far fetched, if the free trade deal China is pushing for materialises, with its natural convergences with the Belt and Road initiative, it could drastically transform international geopolitics in heretofore unimagined ways.