How many Russians do we need to sanction to make yet another entirely symbolic foreign policy statement?
Harper has been tough on Putin since day one of the crisis in the Crimea. The rhetoric has been charged with the good old “you-are-a-fascist technique” — long familiar with both politicians and grounded teenagers alike. Now with Saturday’s announcement of Putin ordering his military forces on combat alert, the stakes have been raised, or should I say the “steaks” for some Russians who enjoy AAA Albertan beef.
“Putins’ eleven” are the eleven Russians and Ukrainians tied to the crisis who will face economic bans and travel sanctions. Mr. Harper is undoubtedly imagining their anguished expressions when they realise will no longer have maple syrup for their Blini. It is up to speculation how he will manage to remove Justin Bieber and Celine Dion’s songs from their Ipods. A CSIS operation? Who knows.
What is Harper’s beef with Putin? Canada has and will trade with other regimes just as, if not more “evil” than Russia. Is it the “size envy” of being the second largest country? Or maybe it is Harper seizing the opportunity to appear like a badass. It could come down the fact that Canadians, Europeans and Americans fail to see that increasing interdependence means that their type of diplomacy, like lava lamps, should be left in the 80s.
This follows sanctions made earlier in the year against 80 Russian and Ukrainian officials and businesses involved in the crisis. Still, business interests with Russia have limited, in the words of Vladimir Lenin, “what is to be done.” Two of Putin’s right hand men, Sergei Chemezov and Igor Sechin remain unpunished. The decision was made to prevent hurting Canadian business interests in the effort for sanctions.
Instead of the “You can’t sit with us” strategy Harper has been using by leading the effort to revoke Russia’s G8 membership and go full “Mean Girls,” let’s see what the strategy would look like if Janis Ewan was the prime minister’s foreign policy adviser:
“Vladimir Putin (Regina George) is an evil dictator. How do you overthrow an evil dictator? You take away his resources. He would be nothing without his high-status government monopoly of oil (man-candy), technically good physique, and evil band of loyal followers (Army of Skanks).”
1. High Status Government monopoly of oil
Russia is not the Soviet Union and its real power comes down to the fact that most of Europe relies on Russian oil. The structure of the state company Gazprom’s oil monopoly allows Putin to turn the tap to Europe off with a single order. Though Canada is less reliant on Russian oil than Europe we should encourage our allies in Europe to “cheat” on Russian oil and look for alternative energy solutions (us).
2. Technically good physique
Despite being an electoral manipulative B***, like Regina George, Vladimir Putin is undeniably extremely popular. As the half naked photos of him with tigers have shown, he also has “technically good physique.” Waiting for the dictator to develop a middle aged belly won’t work because of this ex KGB agent’s exercise regime which is about as stringent as his state. How can we get this dictator into sweatpants? Easy. Instead of restricting travel of Russians to Canada, invite Putin for a visit, offer him some poutine and tell him that it is high in protein. After that, he will totally have to do all his shopping at Sears.
3. Army of Skanks
Sanctioning certain Russians will only strengthen their allegiance to Vladimir Putin, if they even notice that Canada is sanctioning them in the first place. The only way to decrease Putin’s popularity is to increase communications with Russians and Ukrainians even at the highest levels. We should use what influence we have to reach those closest to Putin and try to shift their allegiances. At the same time, instead of throwing around Hitler comparisons, we might gain perspective of why Russia is taking the particular stance they have in Ukraine.