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What we’re watching: August 20 to August 26, 2018

♦ The first meeting in a long time between top security professionals in the US and Russia to agree on an agenda to rebalance the US-Russia relationship. US National Security Advisor John Bolton and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev are to meet in Geneva this week, officially to follow up on the Helsinki summit but in effect to explore common interests in dealing with several vexed international security issues. Patruschev is a KGB veteran who replaced Putin as director of the FSB when Putin moved over to Boris Yeltsin’s presidential office. He was in the job until made Security Council Secretary in 2008. Both the US and EU have him on their sanctions list. Britain named him “probably” culpable in the poisoning of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.
♦ To keep open lines of communication and avoid an extreme trade war, the US and China will be holding low-level trade talks Aug 22-23. They won’t affect the US 25% tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese industrial goods going into effect this week, but they may have a mitigating effect on the US plan to impose 25% tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports. Public hearings on these begin this week.
♦ It won’t help Beijing’s cause that Reuters is reporting China intends to continue purchasing Iranian oil using vessels owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. China is currently Iran’s biggest oil customer. Other major Iranian oil importers have already slashed operations, including Japan, South Korea, India and EU countries. French oil major Total has reportedly abandoned Iran’s South Pars gas project. With the Iranian rial having dropped 70% in value since May, Iran appears headed for a full-blown economic crisis — with a political crisis not far behind.

Syria: France’s evidence for Assad’s deadly chemical attack on Douma

There’s a row on over whether the Trump administration had sufficient cause for the allied assault on Syria last weekend. So the world’s media, too

F-35: Four fallacies that skew debate

Following is a repeat posting of an article which first appeared in The Vimy Report on November 6, 2015 under the title “F-35: Slow down

A Canadian Proposal on Jerusalem

The following is a proposal recently submitted to the Government of Canada recommending an initiative Canada could take to resolve the decades-old dispute over the

Highs and Lows: Russia’s Foreign Policy at the start of 2018

The following are excerpts from an article by Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, posted on 2 February 2018. The full article can

Dumbing down on Jerusalem

A year of missed opportunities Israel’s great foreign minister, Abba Eban, once famously commented that “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.

Three questions we need to answer about peace in the Middle East

Throughout the democratic world, people have lamented the absence of peace in the Middle East. To date, the conflict between Arabs and Israelis has killed

The warped reality of a Serbian mass murderer

Editor’s note: In the article which follows, Canadian ambassador Sam Hanson reflects on the aftermath of the massacre of civilians at Srebrenica during the Bosnian

Imagine your hometown in a war zone

A moatful of defence ministers gathered in Vancouver November 14 and 15 “to measure the progress made” on UN peacekeeping since their meeting a year

The high and low of public life

Once in a while, someone turns over a political rock and shows us what lowlifes can inhabit the high profession of public affairs. Such were

This is National Defence?

What is it about Canada that makes it so dumb on issues of national defence? Sure, it’s a country the size of a continent and

The United Nations should take notice

On 19 September 2017, President Donald Trump delivered his first address to the UN General Assembly. The speech was lengthy, dealt with a wide range

The new hope for Afghanistan

President Donald Trump’s belated Afghanistan policy review and reformulation unveiled last month had three unique characteristics: While expressing “frustration” with “the longest war”, Trump pledged

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