Thursday, July 16, 2015

Talk is Tedious, but the alternative is much worse.

What an amazing thing it was! Western nations sensing great danger to the world if Iran's nuclear program should lead to the development of nuclear arms, Iran struggling with the decay of an economy stalemated by sanctions imposed by the same Western nations. That they talked and talked past deadlines, through nights and finally, finally all signed off on a joint undertaking constitutes a near-miracle.

The hawks descended immediately. We've been duped! Iran can't be trusted to keep its promises! President Obama defended the agreement, insisting that the safeguards built in assured the world that promises would be kept. The Israeli prime minister characterizing it at the same time as a colossal and historic blunder.

The chances are, of course, that Netanyahu will have been proven right in the end. There is also a chance that the agreement will serve as an historic lesson in the effectiveness of persistent diplomacy, especially when compared to the US invasion of Iraq, Russian military interference in Ukraine, Western military involvement in Libya, etc.

Life is not about certainties, it's about weighing options and choosing best chances. Sorting out which choices produce best chances is the tough part, but beating back the hawkish critics in this case seems to me to constitute a feather in Obama's cap. I hope history proves him right.

Canada's response to this agreement is disappointing, if expected. We will judge Iran by its actions, not by it's words. The words, however, are the words of our allies as well as those of Iran so at best, Canada has said nothing. At worst it has declared its non-confidence in the judgement both of Iran and our allies.
For lack of international affairs savvy, the Harper government has painted itself into a corner: its unconditional support of Israel and its need to maintain good relations with the USA and other Western allies have meant effectively that we can't say anything without jeopardizing one or the other relationship. We've written ourselves out of the story.

We need a new government. One that isn't so doctrinaire that it blindly wanders down allies and roads that have no exits. October can't come too soon.

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