leonard45_Michael Kappelerpicture alliance via Getty Images_g7 summit Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

Will the Iran Conflict Break the West?

After months of both the United States and Iran taking a harder line against each other, Europe finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place. If Iran pursues further brinkmanship in response to US provocation, European Union member states may decide they have no choice but to embrace the Trump administration's containment strategy.

BERLIN – Before the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, this month, it was a toss-up whether the greater disruption would come from US President Donald Trump or British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Yet the attendee who had the biggest impact was someone who was not expected to be there at all: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Although media coverage of the summit focused on trade wars, fires in the Amazon, and the looming danger of a “no-deal” Brexit, the discussions about Iran were probably the most consequential. The fate of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal could determine not only whether the world’s most combustible region descends into a nuclear-arms race, but also whether the Western political alliance can survive.

In Biarritz, French President Emmanuel Macron opened the way for a US-Iranian détente. And in recent days, the main players in the Iran drama have all pulled back from the brink. The United Kingdom has released the Iranian tanker (Grace 1) that it seized in Gibraltar. And, more important, Trump has expressed a willingness to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, even suggesting that he would not object to Iran receiving a “short-term line of credit or loan.”

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