As international sanctions against Iran were lifted over the weekend and as U.S.-Iranian relations dominated the headlines, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion implied on the sidelines of a Cabinet-level retreat that the Government is considering dropping its sanctions against Iran, a move that would align Canada with its closest international partners. That the government recognizes the economic and strategic disadvantages associated with its inherited Iran policy is a major step toward constructive re-engagement with Tehran.
As "Implementation Day" of the historic nuclear deal between world powers and Iran approaches, during which Iran will begin fulfilling the bulk of its end of the agreement while sanctions by the United Nations, United States and the European Union are removed, Canada must begin planning for the eventual restoration of ties with Iran in keeping with the new Trudeau government's affirmation to re-engage Tehran.
Canada's strength is not in its fleet of aircraft carriers, but in its moral capital. When our foreign policy reflects our core values, pluralism, diversity, tolerance and empathy then we can expect amplification of our influence around the world. Hearts and minds of population, tired of perpetual violence, is not won through military muscle, but by the ability to defuse conflict and tireless effort to establish and maintain peace.
There is no more annoying phrase in discussions of international affairs than "If the United Nations did not exist, we would have to invent it!" It is certainly true that the world urgently needs an effective collective security organization today. But the organization it needs bears only a passing resemblance to the UN we currently have.
The 1.8 billion young people on our planet have the potential to not only enlarge the global economy, but also to mainstream sustainable growth. G20 governments must work to empower youth to build skills and achieve mastery such that their labour will be fulfilling and will add value to their communities.
The world is littered with women and men who feed on the misery of entire societies, who have grown fat in their spoils and comfortable in their impunity, sheltering behind national jurisdictions and national institutions they have been able to twist to their benefit. But there is a higher law. There is a deeper justice. And we will stand up for it.
History shows how energy and foreign policy issues have been closely intertwined. There is little doubt that this relationship will continue to strengthen in line with increased instability in the international political system. I do not need to say more than Ukraine/Russia and the Middle East to underline this point. For Norway, energy diplomacy is higher than ever on the priority scale. This recognizes that to understand and act in a rapidly changing energy world, there is a need to understand how market and foreign policy factors interact.
Diplomatically, we are losing much of the "bench strength" we once possessed, as senior and able diplomats transition out of public service due to the lack of government engagement in the more vital files. The Canadian government denies all this repeatedly, as governments are prone to do, but those many areas where this country once was a steady player are increasingly being recognizing for our absence.
There have clearly been security lapses which need explanation -- as much to Malaysians as to anybody else. And at the outset, the crisis management could have been better coordinated. However, there is no indication there is something that could have been done to alter the realities of this tragedy. So why has Chinese diplomacy targeted the Malaysian authorities so harshly?
Vladimir Putin posed as a protector of children, while making gay youth outcasts in their own country. The IOC posed as an organisation above politics, while unabashedly bending national politics to its commercial interests. Barack Obama posed as a defender of human rights by grappling with foreign governments, while he shied from the fight in domestic politics.
The recent troubles in the south that sprung up only a month ago, and the instability that has resulted, has pressed that African region to the precipice. But just this week, the Harper government, through its Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), has recommended, "that Canada consider downgrading its development program (in Sudan), or exiting entirely."
Every year, political corruption kills as many as 140,000 children worldwide, by depriving them of medical care, food, and water. Yet, far too often, the perpetrators of the most outrageous acts of corruption are able to use their illicit wealth and power to pervert the very laws and institutions that should call them to account.
At first blush, the recent decision of the Canadian government to shift its foreign affairs focus from diplomacy to servicing private industry came as something of a shock to many. We have become just another nation interested in building up its own wealth at the expense of being an effective influence in the larger struggles facing the globe -- poverty, climate change, localized conflicts, and a general breaking down of democracy's legitimacy.
The Bush Administration's efforts to strike a workable deal with the Islamic Republic were part of the pattern of American-Iranian diplomacy since the Revolution of 1979: lots of talking, but no bargain, grand or middling. It's almost an instant replay of the Clinton years. In 2000, Albright gave a speech that essentially apologized for past American behaviour towards Iran.
The thuggish Putin thinks that Obama and the U.S. are so weakened, that he had the chutzpah to pen a highly critical Op Ed Piece in the New York Times, criticizing, among other things, America's view of itself as exceptional and unique. And criticizing hypocritically the U.S. for contemplating a military action, when Russia has been supplying arms to Assad to assist his regime in killing and gassing 100,000 of his own people. According to liberal CNN on Wednesday night, all the panellists agreed that Putin's Op Ed piece in the New York Times, was Putin's way of flipping the bird to Obama and the American people. This is what happens to the U.S. when its President leads from behind, or worse.
The biggest and most complex problems of a generation remain unaddressed and stand a chance of remaining so no matter who the leader of the country might be in the future. Unless Justin Trudeau brings his game face to the following predicaments, he runs the risk of simply being an "also ran" like the others.
In March, Canada closed its embassy in Syria. Earlier this month, Canada closed its embassy in Iran. Now we learn that sharing embassies with the UK may benefit the government's bottom line. With no physical presence in places like Iran or Syria, how do we protect those ties? The next best thing is a virtual embassy.
Canada's recent move week to share embassies with Britain as a cost-cutting measure would only confirm the country's international reputation is in trouble. While the Harper Government might be promoting this as a savings measure, globally it is being perceived that our best diplomatic days are now part of our history books as a nation.
Many commentators were surprised and puzzled when the Canadian government closed its embassy in Iran last week. But the actions are sudden only to us observers on the outside. These kinds of political machinations happen often, especially in a government that knows it holds a tenuous grip on targeted voters in Canada. What better way to crank up the domestic sentiment than to thumb your nose at an entire country that a large portion of your constituency is hostile towards, while other western leaders are left scratching their collective heads?