Our diplomatic war with Iran

by Aaron Wherry

Asked about how Iran might respond to Canada’s decision to cut diplomatic relations, the Prime Minister says nothing would surprise him. Iran dismisses the Harper government as “racist.” John Baird says he has no knowledge of military action against Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu and Simon Peres praise the Harper government. Irwin Cotler assesses the situation.

Iranian students in Canada are worried. Iranian-Canadians in Calgary are concerned. Haaretz suggests sanctions and isolation may compel Iran to negotiate. The Tehran Times reacts to the move. Doug Saunders and Gus Van Harten question the Harper government’s decision. The Toronto Star worries about war between Israel and Iran. The Globe questions Mr. Baird’s reasoning and says it’s better to talk with your enemies.

The presence of an embassy and the retention of diplomatic relations is not evidence of support for or approval of a regime, it is an acknowledgement that it is better to talk, even to an enemy, than not.

Cardinal Richelieu devoted a chapter of his Testament politique to the imperative of continuous negotiation, stating, “I may venture to say boldly that to negotiate without ceasing, openly or secretly, in all places, and though no present benefits accrue, nor any prospects of future advantage present itself, is what is absolutely necessary for the good and welfare of States.” It is precisely because it is a threat to its own people and those in other countries that Canada should continue to talk with Iran and not retreat from its international responsibilities.




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Our diplomatic war with Iran

  1. With Harper at the controls, I have never been more glad that Canada is a smaller nation, easily ignored.

  2. John Baird, 10 years foreign policy apprenticeship in the Harris Ontario Government, then the years as a trained attack dog with Harper in Ottawa, of course he’s ready for the big time as a world leader.
    Maybe he could take some correspondence courses from a certain international foreign policy authority just taking up a position at Harvard.

  3. Hopeless Harper….the damage he’s doing to Canada just to curry favour with Israel!

  4. Diplomacy is ridiculous – Harper signs trade deals with ChiComs while dissing Iran even tho both countries are equally odious. And lets remember that Canada has an apartheid system for Natives, and Que francos are ethnic nationalists, so Canada’s record isn’t that great when it comes to human rights either but it is better than others.

    Saunders was his usual dullard self – is there a more sad and witless group of writers at a newspaper than who Globe employ? For Canada’s leading newspaper, their writers and reporters aren’t very impressive – I bet they would all agree with Gregg’s idea that modern Canada and Nazi Germany are alike. Saunders hatred of Conservatives and right wing people trumps everything so he ends up writing patently uninformed columns.

    Has it occurred to anyone that maybe Canada is pulling out of Iran because Israel is going to attack the nuclear weapons program that Saunders claims doesn’t exist? No one cares what Canada thinks, certainly not the mad mullahs in Iran, so having an embassy in Iran is pointless. Iran is not going to be a safe place in next year or two because Israel is going to attack, no way Israel allows Iran to have nuclear bombs.

    • Boy you’re relentless, aren’t you? Relntless in your pursuit of sloppy and intentionally inaccurate posts.

      Saunders is one of the most respected writers in the country.Whatever else he is he isn’t “uninformed” And where did he say Iran has no NWs programme? He simply indicates there is still some debate in Israel itself if the head of the military[and its intel agencies] thinks it isn’t certain they will get the bomb.
      Having an embassy in Iran is only pointless if you’ve already made up your mind that the situation is hopeless. It also leaves some Canadians there even more hung out to dry than they already are.

      Gregg does not compare Canada with nazi Germany. That’a ridiculous oversimplification – your speciality. Reading comprehension is a must.

      You don’t do distinction or nuance do you…or facts, or comprehension too well for that matter?

      • It’s easy to hoax the Tonys of this world…..what little they’ve heard, they’ve managed to garble….and they never make the slightest effort to learn about a situation before posting.

        • I’m not so sure. TA isn’t stupid. So it only leaves the possibility he does it intentionally…although i could be wrong about the premise.

          • I’m pretty sure TA is stupid…

      • OK, so if Israel is going to attack Iran, why does our government persist in offering up reasons for the closure that are patently ridiculous? The situation regarding their internal human rights, their support for Assad and any activities here in Canada would not have changed from one day to the next, so why this sudden turn?
        The possibilities I see are:
        (1) This government has been tipped off by the Israelis about an impending attack. This is unlikely as Israel would probably not share that kind of information with foreign governments, even with their so-called biggest supporter. Canada’s relationship with Israel seems to be one where the Israelis feel they can do as they wish vis-a-vis Canada (Mossad agents using Canadian passports, Targeting and killing a Canadian peacekeeper) with Canada barely uttering a peep, its laughable that they would trust any sensitive information to a patsy that Canada has demonstrated itself to be. Canada under Harper is like the unattractive doofus inexplicably dating the hottest girl in school, there’s almost no limit to the self-abasement he will undergo to keep that going (meanwhile she’s really going out with the captain of the football team or the bad-boy with the Porsche).
        (2) Our own government has obtained such intelligence and feels compelled to act on it, which might be impressive, but unlikely. (It would however be entirely characteristic for this government to overplay its hand in that circumstance, and thereby probably lose the asset from which the information was sourced)
        (3) Vic Toews gleaned information on an upcoming Israeli attack from the recently delivered Khadr tapes?
        (4) The announcement was just another instance of this government sanctimoniously grandstanding to curry political favour at home; normally Jason Kenney is the designated speaker on these but having the Foreign Affairs minister (even a very shallow one like Baird) lends the announcement more gravitas.
        I would go with (4) . . . . maybe an enterprising reporter can find out if there’s been any coincidental recent developments in CPC fundraising appeals.

        • I’m inclined to think they think this is an example of conviction politics[ they seem to have convinced someone as smart as Cottler] and almost certainly [4] as a bonus – they need some help in Montreal i guess.
          The scary part is they think this a genunely good idea. I’d love to know what the Brits think. They were attacked and yet their position is still far more nuanced and watchful. But then they have an awful lot of experience of this sort of thing and don’t throw their cards in as soon as someone calls bingo or ups the ante. That’s Harper’s problem, he’s playing bingo while all the big boys are playing poker. Principled? I suppose. Dumb…we shall see.


          • I’d love to know what the Brits think. They were attacked and yet their position is still far more nuanced and watchful
            .

            That’s arguably true, but the U.K. DID close their embassy.

          • True, but they did say they weren’t closing down all diplomatic channels…whatever that means?

        • I think it’s certainly plausible that, even absent concrete evidence, the government is simply concerned that the possibility of an Israeli attack is high enough that it’s best to get our folks out of Iran now rather than wait until Israeli F16s are flying over Tehran. I’d certainly understand, in that scenario, why the government wouldn’t announce that they were closing the embassy because they’re worried the Israelis might attack soon, especially if they don’t have any concrete evidence to base that contention on and they’re just acting out of an abundance of caution.

        • Mossad agents using Canadian passports.

          Bringing that up makes it sound like you think that the Mossad asked the Canadian government for permission to pose as Canadians by using fake passports. I think I can safely guarantee that the Mossad did not call up Ottawa and announce their plans to pose as Canadians during one of their covert missions.

          Also, cozying up to Israel is not the only reason that a Canadian government might not make a big public deal about Israeli agents posing as Canadians. For one thing, you don’t want to give Iran an excuse to harass (or even lock up) Canadians travelling on Canadian passports on the argument that they might be Israeli spies. You’d have to be pretty cynical, imho, to believe that the government ranks “protecting people travelling on Canadian passports in Iran” below “not publicly discussing the covert operations of an ally against an adversary”. I actually think the second point is a completely valid one in any case, but I’m confident that the first rationale for (relative) silence is weighted more heavily than the second.

          • “makes it sound like you think that the Mossad asked the Canadian government for permission”
            Not at all; I meant to convey that it was without permission or knowledge, that Israel was ill-using Canada’s friendliness.
            I would tend to agree with your second point but their lackadaisical posture following the (apparently intentional) death of Major Hess-Von Krudener makes me wonder.

          • Surely Iran is aware of the phenomenon – wouldn’t it be better for the Canadian government to make it very very clear they take the matter seriously and that they’re willing to work with all countries to identify false passports in the field?

          • To me, this argument puts too heavy of an emphasis on the notion that the Iranian government is a rational actor when it comes to dealing with countries who oppose their activities.

  5. My immediate reaction on hearing about this, was that it was a reaction to that CPC Senator who embarrassed the PMO by being friendly with Iran. Of course that sounds like an incredibly simple-minded explanation for a move with such serious consequences. But, in my experience, this is an extremely simple-minded government which does not consider the consequences of its actions. They were looking for a way to re-establish their bona fides as the most rabidly Pro-Israeli gang outside of the Middle East.
    Idiots posturing.

    • Sadly, this hypothesis just rings true.

  6. Looks like Canada has been usurped by Zionism too. Unfortunately, America fell victim to it a long time ago….

  7. Allow me to play Devil’s advocate for a moment.

    1) Apparently, our entire embassy consisted of 7 staffers, and the Iranian regime refused to talk to them. Having people on the ground that another government won’t acknowledge isn’t nothing, but nor is withdrawing diplomats who have no means of actually engaging in diplomacy quite as serious a loss as some might suggest.

    2) It’s entirely possible that the government has good reason to believe that the staff at the Iranian embassy were no longer sufficiently safe, or were likely to be put in danger in the near future. The government likely can’t be too open about that, so it’s hard to say, but the 2011 attack on the British Embassy in Tehran does give one pause. Also, even if they have no more concrete evidence than you or I of what’s going to happen when, the possibility of an Israeli attack in the near future could be sufficient reason for getting our people out on it’s own. And if the Canadian government doesn’t have any concrete evidence that it’s going to happen soon they can’t talk publicly about that being a reason for the pullout, and if they DO have evidence that it’s going to happen soon they can’t talk openly about that either.

    3) I find the notion that we ought to be treating Iran the way we treat North Korea to be somewhat compelling, and as I don’t think that we should open up diplomatic relations with North Korea, I can see the point that cutting off Iran is not dissimilar.

  8. I remember reading on these pages a few months back about the Iranian embassy here being involved in espionage activities. A Google search indicates the story appeared on April 16 an includes the lines “A former member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who secretly spied for the CIA during the 1980s and ’90s says that Canada is a major target of Iranian espionage” but I seem to be unable to pull up the story itself.

    Maybe there’s some linkage between that story and the current diplomatic situation?

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