500,000 barrels of oil each day to Russia for highly a sophisticated missile system to Iran AND the elimination of Russian-imposed sanctions on Iran.....those are the reported terms of a deal announced today between Russia and Iran.
Putin has just stuck his armed finger in the eye of all negotiations to forestall Iran's development of nuclear weapons....negotiations, by the way, to which Russia is an integral part.
So by making and announcing this "deal" today, prior to the final drafting of an agreement, prior to Iran's agreeing to unlimited inspections, in all potential sites where centrifuges are in place and operating, and even prior to all other parties to the potential agreement having had the opportunity to express their views, in the remaining negotiations, projected to terminate in June, with or without an agreement, the united States, France, Germany, China, and Great Britain have to wonder about whether Russia/Putin has effectively sabotaged both a nuclear deal and the continuation of the regime of sanctions....those same sanctions which it is argued helped to bring Iran to the negotiation table in the first place.
Gary Kasparov, the former world chess champion, was probably right when he told CBC's Susan Ormiston that Putin was more dangerous than ISIS.
On this day, also, some six Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the eastern part of their country where fighting with Russian-backed separatists threatens to unravel the Minsk Accord that was supposed to bring this conflict to a close.
On this day, too, Canada announced that 200 Canadian military personnel will join both American and British military trainers in western Ukraine, to help bolster the Ukrainian forces in their significantly weaker attempt to drive those Russian separatists out of their country. Of course, Canadian troops will "not be in danger of engaging the enemy" given that they will be operating some 1300 kilometers from the "war zone" and given that they will be under strict orders not to engage the enemy (the Russians).
How long will it be before all three countries currently engaged in training exclusively will begin to provide lethal weapon to the Ukrainian military?
And, more important, how long will it be before the three western countries consider pleas from Ukrainian president Poroshenko impossible to overlook, or to reject, and open the gates for an open warfare to be engaged, as another proxy war in eastern Ukraine, with pro-Russian troops, supported and armed by the Kremlin to be face-to-face with western troops, supported and armed by the Pentagon, the British government and even possibly the Canadian government?
Russia, unlike Iran, does not find itself on the list of countries who openly support terrorism. However, does that omission need to be corrected?
Does the Russian threat, to the peace and stability of Europe and even of the Middle East, (recall that Putin is also an ally of Bashar al Assad, the dictator in Syria) demand a more vigorous military response, or a more vigorous United Nations condemnation?
The fine tuning, and highly symbolic and sophisticated rhetoric of diplomacy is so far proving inconsequential in pushing Putin back from his highly narcissistic and dangerous march into Crimea, and more recently into eastern Ukraine, without so much as a serious counter response.
Of course, no one wants a nuclear war over Ukraine just as no one wants a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranians. The moment the first nuclear weapon is unleashed, except in a testing modality, will be the moment when the world's leaders will find their respective disregard of and even contempt for the United Nations, and for serious and transparent and accountable talking down, rather than ratcheting up, international relations will come back to bite them and all of their respective people.
There is, and has been for decades, a bloc of nations including Iran, Syria, North Korea, and potentially now both Russia and China who is also flexing her military muscle in the South China Sea, who represent a potential threat to much of what has been taken as "given" and normal in geopolitical relations. And the possession of, or even the threat of acquiring, a nuclear weapon makes their threat more dangerous and more dangerous.
Not only does the world not have a co-ordinated and consistent and sustainable approach to the threat of Islamic terrorism in all of its many iterations, nor does the world have an organized and systematic response to Putin, even after the decades of work that has been done to build and to sustain NATO, presumably originally created to face the potential threat of the then Soviet Union.
It was Edmund Burke who reminded us that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely...well, today the pursuit of personal/ideological/hegemonic power as demonstrated by the Russian dictator, linked, or should we say, enmeshed with the nefarious powers like Iran and Syria, not the mention Hezbollah and Hamas, and even, one can speculate, linked to and supporting terror groups that might serve his ends, is a kind of threat that makes Burke's vision look like a Sunday school picnic, given its original parochial embrace.
The General Motors Cadillac division has just released a commercial whose words, admittedly heard only once, prompted a startling bolt of this scribe from his Lazyboy. The words were "only a weak man suggests compromise"....
This is not only a flagrant abuse of the truth, and a black eye on the Cadillac brand, but also an degree of arrogance and insouciance that has already infected too much of local, provincial, national and international political discourse. We need leaders who will champion the notion that all humans share a very fragile ecosystem, that all humans want a peaceful co-existence with every respecting nation and their people, and that all humans deserve better than those with money, power and impunity are prepared to deliver.
And because they will not deliver, we need a new breed of political animal, one who is prepared to talk straight, think straight, and face the truth of the messes we are either generating or, by our apathy, permitting. And we are facing growing threats not only to the potential for armed engagement but for a cancerous overtaking of all the defensive systems which have provided some measure of protection for nearly half a century.