It appears that Putin is no longer content with just kicking sand in John Kerry’s face. With NSA leaker Edward Snowden in hand, Moscow is now giving wedgies and making the Obama administration eat bugs.Another triumph of "smart power." And it fits a pattern:
Today, “exasperated” Obama administration officials urged Russia to expel Snowden, the New York Times reports. ”We do expect the Russian government to look at all the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in Washington. Yak, yak, yak. Blah, blah, blah. Bluster, bluster, bluster.
Mr. Putin is apparently not quaking in his boots at these stern words from the White House, and Russia still seems more interested in watching Washington twist in the wind than in helping to end one of the most embarrassing spectacles in recent history.
Fortunately for the US, Russia is not the power it wishes it were. Russia’s successes in making America look weak and untrustworthy are more symbolic and moral than real at this point, but symbolism counts. Putin’s successes in foiling the US and holding it up to ridicule dent American prestige in places where it counts for much more: China, North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Israel. As they watch our Syria policy dissolve into chaos and the fumbling and bumbling over the Snowden episode, leaders in the capitals of all those countries are busy downgrading their estimates of American competence and forcefulness in foreign policy. And they are revising their strategies accordingly.The good news? We're still the world leader in drone strikes.