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What we’re watching: August 27 to Sept 3, 2018

here ♦ Diplomat maneuvering on three fronts, with a heavy overlay of political theatrics. In the first case, the US has cancelled what would have been Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s fourth visit to Pyongyang citing insufficient progress on North Korea’s promise to dismantle its nuclear weapons capabilities. Among other things, recent satellite imagery indicates North Korea has halted the work it was doing to dismantle its “Sohae Satellite Launching Ground”, aka missile testing site. The cancellation recalls President Trump’s calling off his summit meeting with the North Korean leader, which was rescheduled after Kim showed renewed signs of seriousness.
♦ On the Afghanistan front, the Russians last week announced they would hold a “peace conference” in Moscow to which they reportedly invited the Afghan government and the Taliban, along with Pakistan, India, Iran, China, the five former Soviet ‘stans and, oh yes, the United States. Predictably, Kabul and Washington have both said they won’t attend. Kabul says it prefers to negotiate directly with the Taliban. In addition to the US currently having 8475 troops in Afghanistan, 38 other countries have a total of 7178 deployed in the country. None of these were invited.
♦ In the Hague this week, the International Court of Justice is to hear Iran’s lawsuit against the United States for reimposing sanctions after its withdrawal from the Iran “deal”. The suit alleges that Washington’s decision violates the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights which the two countries signed in 1955 — when the Shah ran the place. The ICJ has no power to enforce any ruling on the matter. But you have to wonder … in 2003 the court decided that neither Iran’s attacks on US shipping in the Gulf nor US retaliatory attacks on Iran oil platforms violated the treaty. It’s certainly hardy.

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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