The facts are that Putin is not erratic or crazy, but is rational and predictable. He knows the West is divided and he is executing his plan like the KGB officer that he is. He wants total control over Europe's gas markets, and accompanying influence, and has done, and will do, whatever it takes to achieve this.
The Iranians allegedly do not want talks to break down because of a likely Israeli air attack, which though it would not be permanently incapacitating, would do great damage, retard development, and could be repeated as needed at intervals. The Vienna talks will have one more session before breaking for the summer. Though no one seriously expected that they would achieve an agreement, the Iranians have apparently put their program on hold, without rolling it back very far.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was the most successful alliance in world history, as it contained the threat of Soviet imperialism and international communism in the West for 50 years, until the Soviet Union disintegrated, without an exchange of a single pistol shot between the two sides. Today, every two weeks or so, we see a new demonstration of the fruit of weakness and delusional misjudgment in the chancelleries of the West, where formerly, great, or at least consistent and sensible, statesmen ruled. One dares not ask where it will all end, for fear that the logical answer spring from the mists of the unthinkable and legitimize the antics of the Russian gangster-state.
A Keystone bomb would deliver several payloads: punishment toward anti-American Venezuela; proceeds toward Canada which buys more goods and services from the U.S. than the European Union does; punishment toward Russia by casting into the markets more Venezuelan oil and replacement of Venezuelan oil with Canadian oil that is $30 a barrel cheaper.
Crimea is a pity, and likely victimized by Moscow pressure, but the reality is that Ukraine is a failed state without a government, a constitution that can be enforced, an army that can be called upon to defend its people or an economy. If I lived in Crimea I'd vote for the devil I know (Moscow) rather than the devils to come (Kiev).
The West, and especially the English-speaking West, has wrongly taken sides in the present conflict in Ukraine. Instead of making empty promises or threats, our message should be clear and decisive: "What is happening in Ukraine is a matter that its population has to sort out for itself. But, if asked, we will work with all interested parties to mediate a speedy and peaceful resolution." No more, no less.
You can argue -- as I do -- that Canada's too immigrant-friendly and too multicultural, but the reality remains that ethnic diversity is now a basic Canadian fact of life. Upholding this nation's territorial and political integrity therefore requires a staunch commitment to the principle that national governments have a right to govern multicultural populations, and even stauncher opposition to any notion that foreign nation-states possess a right to infringe the sovereignty of others in order to protect "their" people living abroad. Canada is a country that worries about foreigners. But it's also a country that has a right to worry about itself.
Ukraine's Orange Revolution 2.0 has been underway for months and crowds are now demanding that the President leave office. Ukraine's only hope is to join the European Union because its leaders have proven to be corrupt and undemocratic or ineffectual. The EU would, as it has with other former Soviet satellites, become steward and provide a template for modernization of Ukraine. Yanukovych and Putin alike have overplayed their hand by authorizing snipers to murder innocent people in the streets of Kiev.
Thus, as the world prepares to gather in Russia in the Olympic spirit of unity and fellowship, those Russians who have been and still are victimized and persecuted by their own government must be front-of-mind. Indeed, their cause -- and that of Sergei Magnitksy -- must continue to burn brightly even after the extinguishing of Sochi's Olympic flame.
I've always enjoyed Gérard Depardieu as an actor, but his most recent role, as an international tax dodger, is pure Academy Award quality. For those unaware of his theatrics, Depardieu left France last month in a huff over its proposed 75% income taxes on rich people. This is ironic: His surname in French sounds like it could mean "departure of God" in English.
The Soviet Union once sought to intimidate, undermine, influence, subvert, exploit, deceive, penetrate, and dominate every country it had dealings with -- friendly or otherwise. It was paranoid and paralyzed by its dependence on the secret police. But today, the best course of action with Russia is to leave the damn country alone.