Isolated on Iran: Another embarrassment for Canada on the world stage

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      Once again, the Harper government is out to lunch on an urgent global issue. While most of the world sighed with relief at news of the Iran-U.S. nuclear deal, John Baird, Canada’s foreign minister, pouted and repeated belligerent talking points.

      The deal announced over the weekend saw Iran agreeing to limit the extent of their enrichment of uranium and to allow more frequent inspections of their nuclear energy facilities. The agreement was announced after four days of talks in Geneva between representatives of Iran and the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France, and Germany.

      On Sunday (November 24), John Baird effectively condemned the deal. “Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt,” he said. And while other western countries promised relief of sanctions, Baird announced that Canada’s sanctions on Iran would remain in “full force.

      What explains the Harper government being out of step with the international community, and key NATO allies, on Iran? It’s largely about Israel and Harper’s alliance with the extremist government of Benjamin Netanyahu, who fumed that the agreement with Iran represents “an historic mistake” which makes “the world a much more dangerous place.

      Baird’s echoing of Netanyahu, as well as some of the most unreconstructed neo-conservative hawks in the U.S., should come as no surprise. This Conservative government has been consistent in its dangerous, warmongering rhetoric with respect to Iran.

      Two years ago, for instance, I wrote about an interview in which Harper repeatedly told the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge that Iran represented the “greatest threat to world peace. Harper, absurdly, even asserted that Iran “would have no hesitation about using nuclear weapons. As I wrote at the time:

      Harper is in effect claiming to know for a fact that the regime in Tehran is suicidal. Israel already has an arsenal of nuclear weapons—a fact everyone knows but which the government in Tel Aviv has never formally admitted. (Israel, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.) Any attack by Iran, let alone its use of hypothetical nuclear weapons, would result in its total obliteration. There is simply no evidence whatsoever to support Harper’s claim...

      John Baird’s statements in response to this latest deal should be viewed in the same light. This government’s policy on Iran is isolated, dangerous and evidence-free—unhinged from reality. It makes more likely an eventual attack on Iran by Israel or the U.S., which in turns makes more likely a regional conflagration. As was the case earlier this year with Harper’s support for an attack on Syria, the Conservatives are on the side of war-making, not peacemaking.

      All that said, these latest negotiations need to be put in a wider context. The whole campaign against Iran’s development of nuclear energy is aimed at weakening the country, which has become a greater regional power after the disastrous U.S. war on Iraq, and at maintaining Israel’s monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The farce of it all is that the whole discussion of Iran carries on without anyone mentioning the elephant in the room: Israel, the belligerent rogue state, and its arsenal of nukes.

      None of this has anything whatsoever to do with human rights. The sanctions imposed by the West on Iran have nothing to do with the legitimate struggle within Iran against the regime and its depredations. 

      The sanctions are aggression, pure and simple. Not to mention hypocrisy. While the Harper government will continue to punish the people of Iran with “full force” sanctions, they do not hesitate to trade with and arm petro-dictatorships throughout the Gulf region. (Saudi Arabia, after the U.S., is the number one recipient of Canadian weapons sales. Canadian-made armoured vehicles helped the Saudi regime crush Bahrain's democratic movement in 2011, for example.)

      So while it’s necessary to call bullshit on Baird’s hawkish reaction to this Iran deal, it’s also relatively easy. Opposition to the Conservatives’ warmongering needs to be comprehensive, and include criticism of their arming of brutal regimes throughout the region and of militarism in general.

      Consider where John Baird was this weekend. Canada’s foreign minister was playing host to friends like U.S. Senator John McCain at the annual Halifax International Security Forum—a summit of warmakers and the arms industry.

      Baird and Harper make the world a more dangerous place.

      On Iran, they are isolated in their hawkish belligerence even amongst NATO countries. It's scandalous and embarrassing, and one more reminder that we need to throw Harper and his Conservative party out of power once and for all.



      Der Doppelgänger

      Nov 25, 2013 at 11:35am

      It's all about the money. If Iran opens up to talks and conversations, oil prices would go down and the likelihood for a confrontation will be reduced. What would explain Canada's and Israel's positions are three things:
      - Oil prices down are not good for Canada. Oilsands production require a minimum oil price to support their business case (it's more costly to get oil from the sands)
      - Israel won't receive military funding from US, and that is not good for them and Canada for some reason tends to align with Israel before aligning with NATO or even US on foreign policy matters that involve Israel.

      Dis Gruntled

      Nov 25, 2013 at 1:38pm

      Evidence-free and unhinged from reality? That's par for the course. Since when has anything this government done been anything else. Ideology first and last, who cares about facts and reality.

      You Fools

      Nov 25, 2013 at 1:39pm

      Just because we're not aligned with the US does not mean we're isolated.

      "Embarassing" is bending over to every word and idea that comes from the States.

      Kudos to Mr. Baird on expressing a well thought position.

      This newspaper is the embarassment.

      SPY vs SPY

      Nov 25, 2013 at 2:31pm


      Please buy - rent - borrow a copy of the Canadian Book "The Armageddon Factor" by Marci MacDonald.

      You will never know the real reason that Prime Minister Harper's Government does anything - until you learn who "Owns and Controls" the Canadian Conservative Party!

      Harper is doing everything he can to support every Idiotic form of Fundamental Religiosity - Jewish, Christian, Moslem, Sikh, Hindu - you name it.

      Fundamentalism is best described as "They're No fun and They're Mental"

      This is a real - basic threat to every Canadian - brought to you by "THE REGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY"

      Ann O. Yed

      Nov 25, 2013 at 4:41pm

      Shut up, John Baird! There is nothing more annoying than Baird's absolutely cringe worthy interview about Israel, Palestine and Iran with AL jazeera in a year or two ago. I couldn't even watch the whole thing it's so annoying. So embarrassing to have Baird and Harper as the face of Canada. Ugh.

      Joy Goy Boy Roy

      Nov 25, 2013 at 6:24pm

      I guess the good old days when Israel used to secretly sell weapons to Iran, like before the Iran Contra scandal blew up, are over. But then, who knows? How did North Korea get nukes? Did they make a deal with Israel like South Africa did, to get nukes?

      Harper and Baird need to start serving the Canadian taxpayers they are over paid to represent and not some Israeli "settlers" living on other people's stolen property and territory.

      I agree with the author of this piece.


      Nov 26, 2013 at 4:52am

      Since when to have a clear position on something is 'an embarrasment'? The writer is totally wrong, starting from his sentence '...the government in Tel Tel Aviv...- well, there is no government in Tel Aviv, the Israel government is in Jerusalem! Actually, to read this complete nonsense pro Ayatollah pro atomic Iran is the real embarrassment for Canada. Another desk editor living in the clouds...


      Nov 26, 2013 at 8:42am

      Meanwhile, according to Janes, Israel is sitting on up to 200 nuclear warheads along with missiles capable of delivering them throughout the region and far beyond. Israel has also repeatedly threatened to attack Iran. Contrary to pro-Israel spin, Iran has never threatened to start a war against Israel. Israel also refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, allow international inspections of its Dimona nuclear reactor and rejects repeated calls by Iran and the Arab League that the entire region be made free of nuclear weapons. Also, as first discussed by Seymour Hersh in his book “The Samson Option” and recently reported in detail by Erol Araf in his lengthy National Post article, “Incalculable Consequences” (October 3, 2013), Israel threatened to exercise its nuclear option unless the US replaced the weaponry destroyed by Egyptian forces in the Sinai during the 1973 war (which was confined entirely to Israeli occupied Egyptian and Syrian sovereign territory.) Fearing that Israel would use its nuclear weapons, then President Nixon complied, i.e., nuclear blackmail.

      Of course, armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and with Canada’s support, Israel refuses to cooperate with the international community because it wants to remain the invincible bully of the region and hence, able to maintain its belligerent, illegal and brutal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands and able to continue stealing their water resources while building illegal Jewish settlement/colonies.


      Nov 26, 2013 at 9:30am

      This clearly shows the power of the Canadian Jewish Lobby! Jewish money has helped buy the votes to put Harper and Baird in power. Enough said.


      Nov 26, 2013 at 10:37am

      Frankly your article is also overflowing with bias, just as much as the government is flowing in bias. Calling Iran as the best threat to world peace is dumb, but so is claiming that Canada is warmongering over the whole thing.
      It's a whole lot of bark with little bite. What is Canada gonna do? Bomb them with Tim Horton's donuts?
      While it is also absurd for the government to claim that Iran has no hesitation in using the bomb, it would be dumb to gloss over, or even imply that Iran wasn't (and I would still contend isn't) trying to get a bomb, even for defensive purposes.

      Reality is often the middle ground between the 2 poles. Iran isn't likely to go on the offensive with a nuclear weapon, but I'm not going to believe that they weren't trying to acquire one (re: Stuxnet, Natanz). They're probably using nuclear power to get something to make Israel less agressive.

      The governments involve that hammered out the deal pretty much has to express optimism because of the diplomacy involved. While I wouldn't say Iran's going to go on a nuclear warpath, I would rather wait and see how this deal pans out overall. There are plenty of reason, probably very good reasons, in their view, to advance their own nuclear technology.