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Iran deal

When I look at the current situation vis-à-vis the ongoing negotiations with Iran on it’s nuclear program, I get reminded of an incident when I was a particularly naughty 10-year old.

With my two older bros, especially the eldest one, everything boiled down to negotiation. Like this one time when I caught the eldest, Dada, buck naked singing in the shower, completely tone-deaf. I tiptoed out back, put a couple of bricks beneath the bathroom window and peeked in. There he was, fiddling with his pecker, singing ‘Nisultana re, pyar ka mausam aya’ off-tune.

Now, if you were me and knew what your elder bro was capable of inflicting upon you, you’d just let things be. You would leave. But I had to let him know I had seen him. I said something like,’ hey, tiger’ or something similar, I don’t recollect. His hands flew to his crotch and he looked up and snarled at me,” I’ll get you for this, pipsqueak! You’re history!” he screamed.

After that, I knew that my chances of survival were lower than that of a chicken in Chad. In my trepidation, I tripped and fell, scraped my knee and ran for my life. I didn’t know Frederick Forsyth then or I would have asked him for the coordinates of the nearest passport forger.

The negotiations began soon after. My mother, playing along, deputed my middle bro, Chorda, for this. Chorda was known widely as a Henry Kissinger clone. Calm, suave and diplomatic to the core, he led the negotiating team of Sukhoranjan, our major domo and Shepherd, our Siberian huskie-Indian mongrel mix.

Dada’s initial demands were that I give myself up and receive ten kicks on my butt and ten punches. With Kissinger mediating, negotiations dragged on through the day. By lunchtime, Kissinger had managed to get Dada to agree to five each and a temporary truce was called for lunch, broken promptly afterwards by Dada. The rosogolla was still stuck in my gullet when I had to run once again.

Around 4pm tea time, Chorda had whittled the terms down to three punches and three kicks. The sun was setting over the sal forest at the back of our home when Kissinger, his patience at breaking point, finally came up and said to me,” Look Buster, it is two kicks and punches each. Take it or I won’t be able guarantee you’ll survive this.”

I had no choice left but to give in, to two kicks in the butt and two hard punches. Dada threw in a gatta , what is Bengali for a bare-knuckle rap on the crown, just so I wouldn’t take this long being reasonable, in the future.

Chorda had acted as my krysha (Russian for guardian angel, savior, protector), moderating my punishment. Since then I have seen many kryshas in my life.


Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was a virtual nobody, until one fateful week in September 1999, when explosions ripped through four apartment buildings in Buynaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk, killing 293 and wounding 651, leading to events that turned him into a demigod.

After the explosions, Putin, till then a virtual unknown who had seemed to everybody like a mild mannered pushover under Boris Yeltsin, immediately claimed that all trails led to the Chechen rebels under Saudi-born Chechen warlord, Ibn al-Khattab, in spite of the latter’s vehement denials. This is significant because a terrorist usually bends over backwards to claim responsibility for a strike. Nevertheless, Putin began aerial bombings of the Chechen capital of Grozny, laying almost the entire capital waste and killing thousands of innocent Chechens in the process. That was the start of the Second Chechen War, a war that made him dizzyingly popular among his white Russian citizens, for whom he had seemed like the krysha whose message to the Russian multitudes was – Give me the power and I’ll see that you’re safe, otherwise you are going to be toast and I won’t be able to protect you.

A fifth explosive device was found, this time before it could detonate. A resident of an apartment building in Ryazan, 100kms south of Moscow, noticed two men enter the building, carrying packages that they took directly to the basement, from a car parked outside, which had a Moscow license plate. He alerted the police, but by the time they arrived the car and the men were gone.

The police found a device connected to a timer set to go off at 5.30am that morning. The explosive was identified as identical to the kind used in the earlier four apartment bombings – RDX, an extremely incendiary explosive that is available only with the Russian military. The men were later identified as agents of the successor to the KGB – the FSB. It just happens that before he became Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin had been the head of the FSB.

Some analysts opine that the existence of fifth device was deliberately revealed, to send a message to friend and foe alike – we are capable of anything. Nothing terrifies more than the knowledge of someone’s potential to do harm. Over the years, we have seen similarities within the US as well – the ludicrousness of the Warren Commission findings on the JFK assassination or the utter impossibility 9/11 Commission report claiming it to have been an Islamic terrorist strike, in spite of the fact that more evidence points toward a false-flag operation than otherwise.

The recent Edward Snowden revelations are another case in point. Snowden’s revelations were meant to inform the US’s allies as well as adversaries – we know exactly what you are thinking and you cannot hide from our eyes. As a by-product, the leaked internal memos and emails in the revelations (along with the earlier Wikileaks exposés) let powerful politicians the world over know exactly how the US really felt about them personally, without the need to breach diplomatic niceties and tell them so on their faces.

Did the Guardian columnist who broke the Edward Snowden story, Glenn Greenwald, know that he had been taken for a ride? I doubt it and even if he did, he would be in denial about it. Journalists behave like hookers, their appetite for a scoop insatiable. Do we buy Putin’s claim that the Russians have no interest in the Snowden revelations?

A similar pantomime is on display once again with the deal that is being negotiated with Iran to curb it’s capacity to build nuclear weapons, amid strident protests from Israel. I cannot help feeling that the whole thing has been orchestrated by the Obama White House with a certain degree of finesse.

The White House has publicly expressed anger and frustration over the Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the US Congress last Tuesday. Obama protests that Israel’s harangues are threatening to derail the ongoing talks with Iran. But in actual fact, this is exactly what he wants to happen while the negotiations are on, because it is sending the Iranians an indirect message – take the deal or else either Israel will nuke your facilities or the Republican hawks in US Congress will vote to authorise a full-scale invasion in order to destroy your nuclear ambitions, come 2017, when I won’t be around.

The latest reports are that Iran, instead of feeling secure in the Obama administration’s support of  diplomacy, is actually terrified and feeling vulnerable enough to want to sit down and get the deal done. I bet that Obama, John Boehner and Bibi Netanyahu are laughing up a storm right as of now.

The Iran nuclear deal is not unique either…..

Syria – Just before he became international pariah of the year, Putin used the same tactic to get Syria to open its doors to chemical weapons inspections and also the destruction of Syria’s entire arsenal. He told Basher Assad – Give them what they want or they’ll bomb you back to the dark ages and I won’t be able to save your ass. Basher didn’t hesitate.

Libya – In December 2003, the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi stunned the world by renouncing Tripoli’s WMD programs and welcoming international inspectors to verify that Tripoli would follow through on its commitment. Following Gaddafi’s announcement, inspectors from a US and UK-sponsored UN team came in and dismantled Libya’s chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its longest-range ballistic missiles. The catalyst here was Britain’s Tony Blair, who first made Gaddafi think of him as a pal and then managed to impress upon the illiterate Bedouin tribesman – if you don’t do as you are told, you are looking at a full-scale US invasion and the freezing and confiscation of your ill-gotten billions, as retribution for PanAm 103.

Myanmar – With the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the popular leader of the Burmese National League for Democracy, Myanmar seems to have magically lifted a veil. Going even further, it has sat down with the rebel group, Karen National Union, to end a half-century long civil conflict and bringing peace all around. These, plus the lifting of the media censorship, make it undeniable that Myanmar is heading for a definitive turn-around. All this didn’t happen because the murderous generals suddenly had a change of heart. They were made to see what was coming, if they didn’t engage in reforms and let American hegemony in.

Myanmar’s capitulation came about because the generals were scared of a Chinese takeover similar to the Tibet annexation and the consequent loss of the billions that they earn through the heroin trade, Myanmar being the main heroin producing nation within the Golden Triangle. In this case, the ex-US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton delivered the message – reform, let democracy and US influence in, and we’ll let you continue to profit from your heroin trade (the proceeds get laundered through Wall Street banks anyway). Otherwise we’ll feed you to the Chinese and you’ll be left with nothing. 

In all the above events – Obama with the Iran deal, Blair with the Libyans, Putin with Assad and Clinton with Myanmar, these hapless nations were made to feel like they had a krysha keeping them safe from harm.

If the current Ukraine crisis gets worse, maybe Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin will need a krysha of his own, in order to come out of it unscathed. I am thinking it could be anyone of the following three pro-Putin statesmen – Czech President Miloš Zeman, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán or Germany’s Angela Merkel who is fluent in Russian and has that East German connection with Putin. Even Greece could be a possible middleman too, it’s PM Alexis Tsipras having just about had it with all the EU’s arm-twisting over loan deferments and bailouts.

It looks like good cop – bad cop routines in international diplomacy are reaching epidemic proportions.