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Trump’s NATO, Iran comments show Brexit irresponsibilty

by David Hannay | 22.03.2016

For months now the average European reaction to Donald Trump’s outpourings on the campaign trail has been a mixture of disgust and disbelief that these views needed to be taken seriously. That time is now over. Not only is Trump more likely than not to emerge as the Republican nominee for November’s election but, in a two horse race, his chances of winning cannot simply be dismissed.

So when he questions, as he did in his Washington Post interview, the need for NATO, or says, as he did in a speech to an American Israel Public Affairs Committee, that his foreign policy priority would be to “dismantle” the nuclear agreement with Iran, it is time we sat up and paid attention and considered the implications for the rest of us. None more so than Britons who are on the brink of our referendum decision on whether or not to withdraw from the EU.

The European reaction to last year’s nuclear agreement with Iran was almost universally positive. The possibility of it collapsing and of Iran resuming its quest, if not for nuclear weapons at least for a rapid break-out capability, would be one which European governments would surely regard with horror and as being totally contrary to our interests – even if it did not bring with it an increased chance of a widening of hostilities in a region suffering too many of those already.

So we surely need to make it clear, collectively, that we would in no way be prepared to contemplate reneging from that agreement ourselves or of re- imposing sanctions. That would mean that if a US Administration were to do scrap the deal, they would be on their own and could expect Europeans to resist any attempt to bully us into following suit. It would be harder for us to stand up to Trump if we had quit the EU and were on our own.

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    The possibility of US withdrawal from NATO raises even more fundamental issues relating to the individual and collective security of every country in Europe, ourselves included. It would require us to re-think quite fundamentally how best to face up to the challenge of a more assertive Russia, all too likely to test our resolve.

    No doubt most Europeans will hope that matters will not come to this pass. But we can no longer complacently assume that it will not. So that makes it a peculiarly odd moment for Britain to be contemplating pulling out of the EU. The response to Trump’s nightmare scenario would surely need to be more European solidarity not less, a more effective coordination of European foreign policy in facing up to the all too numerous threats and challenges on our doorstep.

    Unless, that is, we would prefer to put our hopes on being rescued by a basically isolationist US, or having deals affecting Europe’s security done over our heads by Presidents Trump and Putin.

    David Hannay is a former UK ambassador to the EU and UN. He was involved in Britain’s accession negotiations to the European Economic Community and was Britain’s Permanent Representative in Brussels when the UK helped to draft the Single European Act, which provided the foundation for the Single Market.

    Edited by Hugo Dixon

    2 Responses to “Trump’s NATO, Iran comments show Brexit irresponsibilty”

    • Trump is not president yet.
      Even if he were to become president the responsibility of office would tame him somewhat.

      I’m not sure that Israel agree with you about Iran.

      It is the EU’s ambitions of empire that frighten Putin.
      Our relationship with Russia would be far better if we were out of the EU.

    • Hee cany close nato.he can withdraw
      It doesnt belong to america. Its a host of nations formed together to defend those countries security