Thursday, September 13, 2012

Canada: Sending a message to Iran, or giving up on it?

Following up on my previous post regarding Canada's sudden decision to completely sever ties with Iran, I have these extended thoughts on why this was way too fast and too sudden.   Five days after the announcement, there's still no indication on who Canada has in mind to be a protecting power.   If the Cons have no intention on seeking an intermediary state, then it must be presumed that Canada no longer recognizes Iran's right to exist anymore than most countries in the neighbourhood don't recognize Israel.

Iran certainly does need to have its wings clipped.     Certainly because of its nuclear program -- we now know the country ran computer models within the last three years to determine just how much enriched would be needed to have a viable warhead.   We know who is the intended target -- no state other than Israel.

An oil embargo would be useful, except that as a member of OPEC it pools its output with the rest of the 12 nation bloc -- only one of which, Nigeria, has what can properly be called a democracy or at least a plausible one (Ecuador and Venezuela have regressed big time).    Like a customs union, say the EU, revenues are pooled proportionally in exchange for an understanding one will neither diminish nor strengthen its output or pricing.

It goes without saying that any country that puts its military ambitions ahead of its people is one thing; to use oil royalties that properly belong to the people -- a well educated and relatively wealthy populace but heavily suppressed nonetheless -- to get Da Bomb in defiance of international obligations is unacceptable.

Also completely untenable is its continued sponsorship of state sponsored terrorists as well as states which get much of their armaments from fellow terror states -- in this case, Iran giving a helping hand to Syria.

Trade sanctions need to be applied, except they only work if the regime actually has (or believes it does) the best interests of the people in mind.  Travel sanctions as well are needed-- although they can be a joke if for no other reason than because the US, Switzerland and Austria must provide safe conduct for high officials to and from UN offices in the respective countries, even blacklisted ones -- and those officials are safe even if there is an international arrest warrant meaning the host country can't do a thing about it.    In the same vein, Italy must provide safe conduct to the Vatican -- and perhaps also San Marino.  (That's how the Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gaddafi had, and the very much living [unfortunately] Robert Mugabe and Omar Bashir have, remained free for so long.   Just do official UN or church business then go right back to home base.)

But in these cases, as others like it, there needs to be some sort of contact maintained.   We held our ground in Eastern Europe and Communism fell.    We stood our ground in South Africa, and apartheid ended.   And so on.

Cuba may not have relations with the United States or Israel but communication is maintained through a "protecting power" setup like I noted earlier in the week.   Canada has put its ties with North Korea on ice for the time being (due to its nuclear program and record of state sponsored terrorism as well) but is using the UK as a go between.

For banks to single-handedly close bank accounts because of a customer's ethnicity is outrageous but even more so if the government condones it on that basis.   But to leave when a number of our own is in jeopardy -- well, that's just plain nuts, especially if there is no one to pass messages along and back.

Bottom line, this is a case of the cart before the horse.   Recalling our ambassador for "consultations" (i.e. showing displeasure at the receiving state's actions) would be sufficient.   It would chill things further but it would send a message we're as mad as hell.    Expelling their diplomats posted here back to Tehran is bizarre unless Canada had proof that all of them were spies or laundering money.  There doesn't seem to be proof of either.

John Baird got his 15 minutes of international fame before things turned nasty in Bengazi and Cairo.    But he needs to keep in mind that wielding a sword for the sake of image can have problems of its own.    After all, it's one thing to stand up for Israel and democracy.   It's another thing to just pull up our stakes and say we've given up on democracy in Iran.   Democracies, after all, don't aim nuclear missiles -- or any missiles for that matter -- at each other.

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