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Pt 2: Canada Versus the United States - We heard some musings from Sean Cole, an American radio reporter based in Boston who not-so-secretly pines to be a Canadian. But that dream inspired some grappling with our perceived differences, in particular the clash between the American can-do and the Canadian can't-do attitudes.
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Pt 3: Russia's "Oilygarchs" - In 2003, when British Petroleum hooked up with an upstart Russian oil company, some analysts wondered aloud if BP really knew what it was getting into. After all, TNK, the company it had just cut a deal with, had a reputation for swallowing up other companies, and doing it by any means necessary. Still, for BP, the idea of building the third largest oil company in Russia was awfully tempting.
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It's Tuesday, June 17th.
U.S. President George Bush says he's considering writing a book after he leaves office, in order to set the record straight about what REALLY went on during his presidency.
Currently, M. Night Shyamalan has agreed to consult on the manuscript.
This is The Current.
In the summer of 1995, Srebrenica was supposed to be a haven from the killing of the Bosnian war. Instead, it became the site of the worst atrocity in Europe since WWII. Roughly eight thousand Bosnian Muslims -- or Bosniaks as they are sometimes called -- were executed by Bosnian Serb forces.
Lawyer for Plaintiffs
A battalion of United Nations peacekeepers from the Netherlands was stationed near Srebrenica at the time. Thousands of Bosnian Muslims sought refuge with the peacekeepers, but ended up in the hands of the Serb army as it over-ran the town.
That fact is at the crux of two lawsuits that landed in Dutch courtrooms.
On June 18, 2008, a group called the "Mothers of Srebrenica" planned to launch a $4 billion lawsuit against the Dutch Government for failing to protect their relatives in Srebrenica. On June 16, 2008, a survivor of Srebrenica named Hasan Nuhanovic took the stand in a similar case. He worked for the U.N. as a translator and sued the Dutch Government for failing to protect his mother, father and brother. They were all killed by Serb soldiers after they went to the U.N. base seeking refuge.
We first introduced you to Mr. Nuhanovic in a documentary we ran on The Current five years ago called "The Bones of Srebrenica." We heard Mr. Nuhanovic describe what happened to his family in Srebrenica in 1995.
Liesbeth Zegveld is the lawyer representing Mr. Nuhanovic and the family of a second victim. She joined us from Amsterdam.
"Responsibility To Protect"
At the centre of this case is the idea of a "responsibility to protect." It's a contentious concept in international relations, and one that has yet to be fully defined in practice. Ramesh Thakur was one of the principle authors who wrote the United Nations' Responsibility to Protect doctrine and became a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation at the University of Waterloo. He joined us from Waterloo, Ontario.
Listen to Part One:
Canada Versus the United States
Can't Do Attitude
We heard some musings from Sean Cole, an American radio reporter based in Boston who not-so-secretly pines to be a Canadian. But that dream inspired some grappling with our perceived differences, in particular the clash between the American can-do and the Canadian can't-do attitudes.
Listen to Part Two:
In 2003, when British Petroleum hooked up with an upstart Russian oil company, some analysts wondered aloud if BP really knew what it was getting into. After all, TNK, the company it had just cut a deal with, had a reputation for swallowing up other companies, and doing it by any means necessary. Still, for BP, the idea of building the third largest oil company in Russia was awfully tempting.
By 2008 that gamble was not looking like a good one. BP and TNK were at each other's throats, flinging accusations of underhanded spying and government meddling, and the stakes could be control of BP itself.
And it's all got some observers saying it's beginning to look like Russia is returning to a time when powerful, Kremlin-connected oligarchs made the rules to their liking and the state apparatus took care of anyone who got in their way.
Chrystia Freeland wrote the book on that phase of Russia's history. It was called Sale of The Century and it chronicled the rise of the oligarchs. She gave us her thoughts on the BP-TNK battle.
As the fight between the companies deteriorated into lawsuits and police raids, Robert Amsterdam watched with a mix of fascination and disappointment. He's a Canadian lawyer who represents Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil billionaire who was jailed, some say, for challenging former Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Robert Amsterdam joined us from London, England.
According to Steve Levine, sometimes souring business relationships are just souring business relationships and nothing more -- even in Russia. Steve Levine covers foreign affairs and energy for Business Week and he wrote a book called Putin's Labyrinth: Spies, Murder and the Dark Heart of The New Russia and he joined us from Washington.
For Phil Murray, the fight between TNK and BP must have seemed awfully familiar. He's the President of NOREX Petroleum, a Canadian company that has had its own run-in with TNK. He joined us from Calgary.
Last Word - Bashir Makhtal Protest
The Current has followed the story of Bashir Makhtal, a Canadian citizen in jail in Ethiopia facing terrorism-related charges that could result in the death penalty. On June 16, 2008, his supporters gathered across the street from the Ethiopian Embassy in Ottawa to call for his release. After that, they made their way to the Prime Minister's Office to call for the government to pressure Ethiopia on Makhtal's behalf.
We closed this episode with some of the voices of the people involved.
Listen to Part Three: