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Iran is good for business. One of the reasons the EU just talks, talks, talks, with the Mullahs about their nuclear weapons programs:they could could care less.They are more concerned that Iran will get more offended over a soccer game than they are if they have missles that lay mushroom clouds.They just want to prevent the USA or Israel to actually do something about it, the nuclear development of the mullahs.
It has been said that Israel has a "feel our pain" policy in case they get devasted by a nuclear attack. Said policy will not only take as many of the actual aggressive enemy down with them as possible - but those governments who aided or enabled said enemy regimes to get those weapons in the first place will get a dose too. Think that the USA should adopt a similar program and let the New York Times leak the story. They're good at it.

And some say that Americans are all about the money and unprincipled. Yeah...

The UN put out a study a couple of years ago on Arabs. Turns out that the entire Arab world, from west Africa, through to Saudi Arabia, all the oil countries, with a population of some 600+ million, had a GDP...less than Spain. The Arab world, ruled by dictators, only gets it's wealth by oil extraction. Not one world class good or service is from a Arab country. They don't have one world leading university. Something like less than 50 books a year, of all types, are translated into Arabic.

So, my point. The bright Euro-peons think they can get rich selling to broke slaves who have no property rights to keep what they own, and this is a good trend line for the future.

@Carl: I've seen that 50-book statistic as well, but I can't remember where. In the same place it also said that of all the books published in Arabic, about 70% were of a religious nature (and not necessarily the Kum-ba-ya category...), compared to about 10% in English. BTW, I also read that 1 out of 10 books in the world is published in German, which is certainly not a bad statistic in light of the number of German-speakers in the world (less than 200m, I suppose).

Carl to Carl,

I gave the impression that I didn't know that the Iranians were Persian, not Arabs. My point was that Europeans, ahem, "leadership" doesn't seem to want democratic governments, and finds it easier to deal with a small clique of powerful in these countries. I think for Europe as a whole, this isn't best for economic growth, but that this behaviour is fine for incestuous networks in each nation( supposed free and the non-free )to deal and more importantly profit.

Not that German-Iranian relations don't sometimes produce some stunningly fantastically 'May-I-Grovel-At-Your-Feet?'......(I'm losing it here)...cause of...think...thin...talk....um, Shermine Shahrivar, Miss Europe 2005, and Miss Germany of 2004.

Scout....
BBC on the UN report, here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2082872.stm

Wonder why I can't post under my old name...Do you get banned here if you say something the makers of this site don't like even if it's harmless? That would be sad...

Yeah, Germany is trying hard to catch up to the US in supporting dictatorships, terrorism and war. At the current speed it will take only a few more millenniums. (Iran, of course, is a rather democratic country. That is exactly the reason why they are not as US friendly as, say, Saudi-Arabia. But it is true that terrible things happen in Iran that only FNC watching right fanatics would find ok like hanging people for being gay.)

So Germany is no. 1 trading partner of Iran. That means what? Germany is the 3rd biggest economy in the world and it happens to be situated in a region that is not as far from Iran as no. 1 USA and no. 2 Japan. Apart from that Germany was the worlds biggest exporter in 2005 anyway.

I wish you more honesty and less hate against Germany for 2006. Happy new year! Frohes neues Jahr!

Note from David: Check our comment policy, Imn. Link in right column.

Germany is the 5th largest economy. The USA, China, Japan, and India rank 1-4.

It is natural for somebody to make a buck when there is a buck to be made. I am certain that is why drug dealers or other forms of illicit/illegal black marketeers are in business. Is it right? Hardly. Is it moral? Definitely not! Germany of all nations needs to abandon marketing for profit with an Islamofascist nation such as Iran. It is an evil nation with the expressed purpose of subjugating all peoples to Mohammedanims - a kind of Master Race formula. What does remind anyone of?

Of Course the elites who run Germany would rather deal with the Iranian elites. Follow the money to be sure. The Persian people are very nice folk. The religious nut jobs that run the counrty are not so nice and dealing with them shows just how greedy and anti democratic the elites of Germany acutally are. Trading with gross sponsors of terrorism is evil.

I don't hate Germans, I just hate the greedy and blind elites that run it. This is somewhat like "I don't hate the US. I just hate George Bush" that we hear from Europe in general and Germany in particular.

Dare to compare the gross anti-Americanism today and in decades past across the Pond, whatever can be construed as "hating Germans" here is quite light.
Wonder, when the Mullahs have missles pointed at Berlin and at other points in Europe if we will see the hysterical anti-nuclear protests that we witnessed in the 70s and 80s at that end?? Not a peep, is my wager. This time they don't have Moscow funding their "peace" groups and at least the nukes aimed at them won't be made by the "boese Amis".

@Imn,

As an exiled iranian, i have no problem with germany making huge buisness with iran.
It's a hard world and countries do what they can to scrap by.
What i resent, is the european media in general, and german/french in particular, patronizibg and giving human roght, moral and decency lectures to the US;

Enjoy your buisness with iran , but for whatever sake, just f** the shut up about moral superiority.
And don't bitch when the cake is taken away...

Usually I like Mr. Küntzel's well-done analyses of German foreign policy, but this one is a bit too snarky. Excuse me what? If Germany would freeze the Hermesbürgschaften tomorrow or impose sanctions, does he seriously believe Ayatollah Khamenei would be impressed enough to step down? Is the Hermesbürgschaften proposal designed to be a PR coup of the kind of Daniel Cohn-Bendits proposal to exclude Iran from the Football World Cup?

Probably Mr. Küntzel is not aware how much work and effort it cost the U.S. to properly disentangle itself from the House of Saud. Mr. Ahmadinejad knows very well that economic sanctions would hurt Europe more than they hurt Iran, so Mr. Küntzel should amend his proposal for economic sanctions against Iran with a financing plan.

Of course the option of sanctions can never be taken off the table, but in the case of Iran the next step is building a majority to refer the dossier of deception from the IAEA board to the Security Council. As an act against Germany's own interests economic sanctions against Iran would be unilateral. It makes no sense to bundle the demand to Russia to give up its blockade of the referral with a demand for economic sanctions.

If the Security Council imposes limitations on business with Iran then nations would have to follow. I don't think that it would be a very wise step though, after the experience with 1990s Iraq. But to decide that, the case of Iran first has to be referred there, and anything Germany can achieve to convince the other members of the IAEA board is way more important than hollow threats of sanctions.

(which was issued in the time between the criticized statement of the Locust Minister and the publication of Mr. Küntzels article, BTW)

@FranzisM,

So you say that as the leading trade partner with Iran, germany has no leverage what so ever, and even the remote(very remote) possibility of UNSC backed sanctions wouldn't work anyway(cf: irak).

tell me then, what pretense of soft power can you(ie germany) still have?
A strongly worded "rebuke"? A "profound" disagreement?

And in the event (also remote) of airstikes by US or Israeli forces, what would be the german reaction ? will we see the same huge protest demonstrations, albeit with new slogans like "No bomb on german investment!", or "iranians have the right to be hanged in public".

As i said before, i have no problem with germany playing economic "realpolitik". I just hate it when you try to disguise it as "moral" .


@frenchfregoli2 - I hope the Security Council can come to an agreement to outlaw the system of Wilayat al-Faqih which allows the apocalyptic cultists in Iran to wield mundane power. I wonder why the UN still accepts it that member states invoke God as a replacement for their lack of political legitimacy, if it came to decide for a general ban of theocracy, could the Ayatallohs and Sheiks reasonably complain that they are the only ones actually hit by it? Surely one or another useful proposal how that ban can be enforced would follow.

Well Franzis, that's wishful thinking at its best! Maybe the moment the UN has finished patronizing the danish goverment for "allowing" the news paper running some cartoons about mohammed, they can find time "outlawing" theocracies!

My original point remains: how can euro-powers, ie france and germany talk about "soft power" versus the un-sophisticated, brutal cowboy strategie, and in the same time be afraid of even some minimal real measures for fear of loosing a dozen commercial deals?

If i may indulge in political fiction, there will be MUCH more to gain economicaly by a regime change in iran: imagine that iranians have to buy dozens of new civilian aircraft, modernize their infrastrucutre(ICE anyone?), and on a lighter note, can you imagine the thirst of 70 MIL people deprived of "official " sale of alcool? enough to dry the eurpean wine and beer surplus!!!

If Germany is open for criticism because of trade with Iran, does this mean generally that trade with authoritarian regimes is open for criticism ? If that answer is yes, then one would have to presume that trade with the Soviet Union generated few benefits (which, I think, history effectively counterproves). And trade with China should be fair game for criticism as well.

There seems to be some disconnects in the logic being offered.

Cheers,

@frengfregoli2 - Well, show me a proposal which is not, hard power or soft power or any combination thereof.

A large part of the appeal of sanctions comes from that they put you into the role of the altruist. Someone who enacts sanctions that cost him his own profits will appear as if he has something very promising in his sleeves... distant echoes of the Lent preceding the Resurrection. It's your guess how much of this osmosis might reach the cult leaders in Iran. I'd say the Ayatollah is not a Noriega, even though his Ahmadinejad is a caricature of Robin Hood.

Anything along the lines "sanction and forget" or "fire and forget" would be wishful distractions from the goal of regime change. I do not forget that, when Al Qaeda defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Wilayat al-Faqih system claimed jurisdiction over Europe, making an example with Salman Rushdie. With a stroke of a pen under a fatwa Khomeini ended all realpolitik that was based on the presumption this craze could be contained into Iran. The case from Denmark where infidels were asked to adhere to the Islamic waiver of the depiction of the founding figure as if they themselves were Muslims is an example of this.

Have you noticed that before there was Wilayat al-Faqih there was no Al Qaeda? There was terrorism but not with the apocalyptic totality since the rise of the Islamic Republic. I know that the United Nations are just as awkward when it comes to pursuing a moral goal as the Association of German Vinters, but I'd guess they fear John Bolton a lot more than our vinters fear Ahmadinejad.

Solution?

I don't know, but dropping a laser guided bomb on the full cabinet meeting could be a start;May lead to a military coup. I wonder if anyhting that replace the mullha's regime can be worse...

And i wouldn't worry that much about the velayet-faghih thing. I think the concept is a joke in Iran itself and has ceased to impress anyone.Of course you'd still have the die hard minoritie of belivers(the one that actually has the guns..), but the islamic concept of the regime won't survive long.
I even predict(or dream?), that the much needed re-appraisal of islam will begin in Iran after the aforementioned regime change.After all iranians invented the shiism to get away from the califat, so maybe, they can be bright enough to lay the foundation of a modernized islam.

@frenchfregoli2 - What caliphate? That so-called caliphate is merely a vague idea of a rebellion against international law, just as surreal as the reich. Whereever that idea comes to power it loses its only appeal, as it did in Iran, even though the Persians gave it a new name.

Franzis,

I meant the ORIGINAL califate, established in the 8th century.
After the then arab army overran the persian empire, iranians were forced to convert to islam and hudreds of thousands were killed.
In the follpwing decades,and after many armed uprising, the iranians found the concept of shiism appealing, because, to sum it up, it denied the right of succession to the established calife, and described some nephew of mohammed as his true successor.This said nephew, hussein, was killed during some sort of tribal feud (hence the celebration of "ashura", as you may have seen recently in iraki reportage).
I was just saying that historically, iranians "converted" to shiism, using it to deny the authority of the bagdad or damascus calife., which of course was(and still is ) the "official" and the one and only acceptable form of Islam.

Of course the jihadi concept of the "return" to the caliphate is so ridiculous that doesn't need debating!

@frenchfregoli2 - I've been thinking about this for a while. That would basically be the idea of reforming Islam by splitting it into a conservative and a originalist denomination. But the scenario that a new Shia originalism will supplant the Wahhabi originalism of the terrorists seems rather unlikely to me. What is more probable is that the Islamic messianism, which after all dares to reject the centerpiece of the apology of the caliphate, the doctrine of the finality of the prophethood (that Nietzsche parodied so wonderfully in his thought experiment of the dead God), might cautiously look out for more reliable sources of deliverance when its false warlord prophets fail.

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