Trump admin wonders why Europe hasn't been 'helpful' on Iran

Pompeo is disappointed with our European allies on Iran. It's a safe bet that there are officials in London, Berlin, and Paris who are feeling the same way.
Image: BELGIUM-NATO-DEFENCE-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY-MEETING
ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP - Getty Images
Get the Msnbc newsletter.
SUBSCRIBE
By Steve Benen

The Trump administration clearly rattled the international landscape with its latest offensive against Iran, and as the Wall Street Journal reported, it's not altogether pleased with the response from some of the leading U.S. allies.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed disappointment with European allies after they voiced concern that the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani could trigger further violence.

Following the drone strike that killed Gen. Soleimani and an Iraqi paramilitary leader this week, Mr. Pompeo held phone calls with European allies, major powers China and Russia and regional partners such as Pakistan. According to State Department officials and official readouts of the calls, he told his counterparts that the strike was conducted to head off further violence and de-escalate tensions.

Note the use of the word "following" -- as in, Donald Trump and his team launched the airstrike, which was followed by White House outreach to our European allies. Given the nature of the mission and threat, U.S. officials could've alerted our allies to the gambit before it was launched, but chose not to.

Specifically, Pompeo told Fox News' Sean Hannity that "talking to our partners in other places," such as European capitals, hasn't "been quite as good" as discussions with U.S. partners in the Middle East.

Get the msnbc newsletter.

"Frankly, the Europeans haven't been as helpful as I wish that they could be," the cabinet secretary said. "The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did -- what the Americans did -- saved lives in Europe as well."

Whether or not the Soleimani mission saved European lives remains an open question -- the Trump administration has presented no evidence to bolster the assertion -- and it's not as if Pompeo has earned the benefit of the doubt.

But if the secretary is at all curious why our European allies "haven't been as helpful" as the Republican would've liked, perhaps I can help explain why.

We can start, for example, with the simple fact that our European allies partnered with the United States on the international nuclear agreement with Iran; they held up their end of the bargain; and they helped ensure that the JCPOA policy was a success. When Donald Trump signaled his intention to abandon the agreement, our European allies took a variety of steps to make the American president happy, strengthening the deal in order to secure the Republican's support.

Trump blew them off, ignored their efforts, and rejected the effective policy for reasons he struggled to explain.

When European leaders scrambled to salvage a working agreement with Iran, the Trump administration threatened our allies with sanctions.

Months later, when Trump moved forward with a dangerous new policy that created new national security risks for our allies, the White House didn't bother to give them a heads-up. And now they're not being "helpful"? Imagine that.

Pompeo apparently wants everyone to know he's disappointed. It's a safe bet that there are officials in London, Berlin, and Paris who are feeling the same way.

MORE: Today's Maddowblog