Welcome to what could turn out to be the most important, and potentially the most destructive, week in international diplomacy since the end of the Cold War.
In the next seven days, we are meant to reach three major turning points in global affairs. On Tuesday, major powers are meant to conclude an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. On the same day, Greece is supposed to make a 1.6 billion euro payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but may fail to do so. And on Sunday, Greek voters will vote in a referendum on the latest bailout package offered by its creditors in the eurozone and the IMF. The Greek government says it wants them to reject the deal, arguing that the terms are too austere, especially over pensions.
In the worst conceivable scenario, an Iran deal will prove unreachable due to unbridgeable differences, and Greek voters will tell Europe to go to hell, setting the stage for their country’s exit from the eurozone. This would be a double whammy for the West. The Obama administration has based much of its foreign policy, including its interactions with players such as Russia and China, on securing a bargain with Iran. Germany and its European allies have fought long and hard to keep Greece in the eurozone. If they fail, the EU’s internal and external credibility will be in tatters.