Who says you canÂt form accurate judgments of people on the basis of first impressions? Long before he was CanadaÂs foreign minister, before he was even elected to public office, John Baird knocked at my door and introduced himself as a candidate in my riding for an election that had yet to be called.
From the moment he spoke, I took a visceral dislike to him and pegged him for what he is: a demagogic creep whose life mission is pandering to the powerful.
His actions since have done nothing to soften my view.
Consider, for example, his recent announcement that Canada will impose a total trade ban on Iran. Canada exports a few bushels of wheat to Iran in return for a truckload of Persian rugs. The ban means little sacrifice at homeÂand little pain for Iranians.
In other words, itÂs symbolic.
But it gives Baird a platform from which to demonize Iran and, in doing so, to ingratiate himself with Washington and Tel Aviv. Baird says the ban is necessary to punish IranÂs Âreckless and irresponsibleÂ behaviour in increasing its uranium enrichment activities. Problem is, thereÂs nothing reckless or irresponsible about Iran enriching uranium. Indeed, if anyone is reckless and irresponsible, itÂs Canada.
As a non-nuclear weapons party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has a right to enrich uranium, as long as it refrains from diverting fissile material to military use. The International Atomic Energy AgencyÂwhich monitors IranÂs enrichment activitiesÂhas never reported a single instance of Iran diverting fissile material. WhatÂs more, Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Japan also enrich uranium on their own soil.
When last I checked, Baird wasnÂt denouncing these countriesÂ enrichment activities as reckless and irresponsible.
Iran has no nuclear weapons. And the US intelligence community says that, in its view, the Iranians arenÂt developing them.
As to the charge that Iran is just a few years away from a bomb, that canard has been around since the mid-1980s. And still Iran hasnÂt a single nuclear weapon.
ThereÂs nothing about IranÂs enrichment activities that are worthy of a trade ban. Except pandering to Israel. Which is kind of tricky considering that unlike Iran, Israel actually does have nuclear weaponsÂan estimated 400, and the means to deliver them by missiles, aircraft and submarines.
Even if it did have nuclear weapons, Iran wouldÂwithout long range bombers and submarines, and with missiles of limited rangeÂstruggle to deliver them.
Moreover, unlike Iran, Israel bars IAEA inspectors from monitoring its nuclear facilities. It wonÂt join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite UN resolutions directing it to do so. If any country were deserving of a total trade ban, Israel would seem to fit the bill, not only for its nuclear activities, but for its ongoing oppression of Palestinians and habit of attacking its neighbors.
Baird, then, canÂt possibly be concerned about the presence of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
Or anywhere else, for that matter.
In 2010Âand hereÂs where Canadian recklessness and irresponsibility come inÂCanada signed off on a deal to export uranium to India, despite concerns that the south Asian country would use the uranium to free up its domestic supply for military use.
ItÂs widely believed that India used a research reactor sold to it by Canada to obtain weapons-grade plutonium to develop its first nuclear weapons. Because India, like Israel, is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, there are no international inspectors in India to ensure that uranium is used for peaceful purposes alone, as there are in Iran.
All of which means that Canada is about to sell uranium to a south Asian proliferator for commercial gain while imposing a symbolic trade ban on a non-proliferator to curry favour with a west Asian proliferator. And the west Asian proliferator is the regional attack dog of a country loaded to the gunwales with nuclear weapons, and no intention of relinquishing the political utility they provide in bullying other countries.
As I said: pandering to the powerful.
Finally, letÂs be clear. As Peter Oborne and David Morrison point out in their excellent book, A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran, the West never had a problem with IranÂs nuclear program when WashingtonÂs marionette, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, ruled with an iron fist in Tehran.
It was only when the Iranians sent Pahlavi packing and asserted their independence that the United States turned sour on IranÂs civilian nuclear energy programÂand much else about the country too.
May 30, 2013