Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pretty much

Walter Russell Mead on the situation that Obama finds himself in re: Edward Snowden:
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.

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.
Another triumph of "smart power." And it fits a pattern:
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.


10 comments:

Anonymous said...


"Russia’s successes in making America look weak and untrustworthy are more symbolic and moral than real at this point"

Russia's success? You have to be kidding. Russia has little to do with it. They are merely playing on the situation that both Bush and Obama have put us in: Bush for running a torture regime for the last 6 or 7 years of his Administration. Obama for completely ignoring the Geneva Convention that the Reagan Admin committed us to 30 decades ago.

We no longer have any moral or legal standing in the court of World opinion. Just military might, and that has been greatly diminished by the military fiascoes we've run in Iraq and Afghanistan. So our detractors are having fun with it. Good for them. We deserve it. All of it.

Regards,
Rich

Mr. D said...

They are merely playing on the situation that both Bush and Obama have put us in: Bush for running a torture regime for the last 6 or 7 years of his Administration. Obama for completely ignoring the Geneva Convention that the Reagan Admin committed us to 30 decades ago.

I'm just waiting for the day when we learn that the "torture regime" you decry is still in effect. Because we will. Just wait for it.

Bike Bubba said...

OK, so Snowden has done the KGB, or whatever its successor is called, by unmasking NSA surveillance. And we're expecting the Russians to give up the guy who made this possible? Let's get real here.

Now there is a question of moral standing, but we're talking espionage here. And question #1 is whether we can keep anything resembling secrecy when we're spending billions and hiring tens of thousands/hundreds of thousands of people with full clearances. My take is "no."

R.A. Crankbait said...

"King Obama and the Holy Grail"

OBAMA: Halt! Hallo! Hallo!

PUTIN: ‘Allo! Who is zis?

OBAMA: It is King Obama, and these are the Knights of the NSA! We are charged with a sacred quest – to bring back Edward Snowden and the missing laptops. Will you help us?

PUTIN: No thanks, I haven’t seen them. (To China, Korea, Cuba: I told him I haven’t seen them. Others laugh)

OBAMA: Um, can we come and have a look?

PUTIN: Of course not! You are American-types!

KERRY: If you don’t give us Edward Snowden we will, we will… well, you won’t like it!

PUTIN: You don’t frighten us, American pig-dogs! Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person! I blow my nose at you, so-called Obama-king, you and all your silly State Department types!

KERRY: What a strange person.

OBAMA: Now look here, my good man!

PUTIN: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food- trough-wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

KERRY: Is there someone else we could talk to?

PUTIN: No, now go away or I shall taunt you a second time! I wave my private parts at your aunties, you tiny-brained swipers of other people’s data!

Mr. D said...

Exactly, Crankbait.

Anonymous said...

Mark,
Just to be sure we mean the same thing - that torture will continue to take place at the hands of members of the US (or any) armed forces and intelligence communities is a no brainer. That is not what I mean by a torture regime. By torture regime, I am talking about torture being sanctioned, even encouraged, at the highest levels of government. As it was in the Bush Administration.

You seem to think that is still in effect in the Obama Administration. I disagree. So much so that I would be willing to wager on it. Since you seem so certain about it, you can name the terms.

Regards,
Rich

Mr. D said...

You seem to think that is still in effect in the Obama Administration. I disagree. So much so that I would be willing to wager on it. Since you seem so certain about it, you can name the terms.

You've already lost the wager, Rich. Read your own opening sentence:

Just to be sure we mean the same thing - that torture will continue to take place at the hands of members of the US (or any) armed forces and intelligence communities is a no brainer.

Operationally, it doesn't make a damned bit of difference to the person on the business end of it whether or not John Yoo wrote a memorandum. If you're arguing, as you seem to be, that operationally nothing has changed but that Team Obama really hates itself in the morning, then it's clear that the only "torture regime" extant is the one you've imposed on logic.

Bike Bubba said...

Rich, Nat Hentoff says you've lost already, too. The only substantive improvement in terms of human rights on the part of Mr. Obama is that waterboarding is over. Two people waterboarded vs. a ton of covert drone strikes on sovereign nations.

Bush is looking like a choirboy compared to Obama here, and the major difference is that Obama at least said he knew that doing this was wrong.

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/hentoff050813.php3

Gino said...

come guys, ease up on president Obama's human rights record. its not like he's forcing nuns to provide abortions or anything...

now, back to the subject: the real issue here is the USA has no leverage over the nations in question.
its not about being forceful enough. nor even a matter of moral respect.

what do we have/can do/not do... that means more to them than Snowden does?
and its too late to threaten Ecuador with economic sanctions, that ship has sailed and Obama wasnt on it.
(and its looking more and more like China will get a large share of that keystone pipelin oil anyway...)

this is starting to look a lot like the late 70's style of foriegn policy if you ask me, where the only success took place during a hockey game in Lake Placid

Mr. D said...

come guys, ease up on president Obama's human rights record. its not like he's forcing nuns to provide abortions or anything...

Zing!

this is starting to look a lot like the late 70's style of foriegn policy if you ask me, where the only success took place during a hockey game in Lake Placid

As the blog title suggests, pretty much.