The Snowden Tug-Of-War

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by MarkPavelovich, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    22
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Victoria, British Columbia
    Despite U.S. President Barack Obama's affected nonchalance over the explosive disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden - he said the USA "would not scramble jets to get a 29-year-old hacker", which was interpreted by reporters to mean the United States would "keep to routine channels" in its attempts to bring Snowden back to the U.S. for trial -

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/27/u-s-wont-scramble-jets-to-get-snowden-obama-says/

    the astounding episode of political hardball that followed, in which the Bolivian President's official aircraft was forced down so that it could be searched by U.S. personnel (with the cooperation of the usual pack of tumblers eager to prove their loyalty) soon betrayed that the U.S.A. is furious over Snowden's spilling the beans and is determined to have him at whatever cost.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/02/world/americas/bolivia-presidential-plane

    Now a prominent Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, has submitted a bill asking for consideration of trade sanctions against Russia to punish that wicked country for harbouring Snowden. Packaged in the usual fashion for American politics - tucked into a funding bill as an amendment - the bill calls for "sanction options against any country that provides asylum to Mr. Snowden, including revocation or suspension of trade privileges and preferences".

    http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-mon...te-funding-possible-snowden-related-sanctions

    You can almost hear the corporate scream of horror from here, as trying to get back to the thumbsucking political comfort of Jackson-Vanik would be very costly, and big American companies are already struggling for Russian market share and frustrated with the endless political minuet.

    http://www.usrussiatrade.org/documents/Russia PNTR One-Pager - Caterpillar.pdf

    In view of all that gnashing of teeth and hissing from the U.S.A., it is astonishing to see Snowden has been named the winner - by Germany - of its Whistleblower Award, including a 3000-euro prize.

    http://en.rian.ru/world/20130723/182373434/Snowden-Gets-Whistleblower-Award-in-Germany.html

    American sanctions against Germany, anyone?
  2. Robert

    Robert Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/imperial-hubris-and-plain-stupidity.html
  3. Robert

    Robert Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    I disagree with the Saker that this episode suggests that US power is in decline, on the contrary it reveals the immense clout Uncle Sam still has. This affair has now taken relations between the US, its allies, world diplomacy and international law to a new low. The double standards and hypocrisy by the EU is also disgraceful, how can they condemn the US for spying one day then treat a sovereign president like a criminal the next. This of course was at the behest of the US government and only gives further proof of the bullying tactics that the US is using against other nations. This is imperialism by other means with only a selfish agenda being pursued at all costs. The US may be still the most powerful country on earth, but it is clearly out of control. How can the US talk about democracy to countries like Syria and Egypt while acting like a tin pot dictatorship. The tragedy is that the UK and other so called liberal democracies are in complete agreement with the US and fast becoming neo colonies.
  4. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ottawa
    Is it the USA? Or is it the Chicago Way?
  5. Robert

    Robert Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    I think it's fair to say that the economics of the Chicago School has been the USA's most mischievous export.
  6. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    22
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Victoria, British Columbia
    The Saker and I mostly agree on the significance of world events, and in this instance I notice he did not say that only U.S. power is in decline, but that "the Anglo Empire is running out of gas". He's right.

    While the petulance and spite of America are on show in the Snowden case, these alone are not enough to topple a superpower. What they do is hurt American credibility at the bargaining table, where the USA is increasingly viewed as untrustworthy and anchored in every decision by self-interest rather than common purpose. When trust starts to evaporate, your status is in trouble, especially if you are the predominant world power.

    When international trust starts to slip at the same time that your economic partners are losing their grip, you have a situation like you are drowning, as your friends are hanging on to your legs. You can't save them, you can only drown with them or kick them loose.

    And America's partners are in serious trouble. European countries increasingly rely on austerity policies to protect their banks, the great beating heart of their collective body. But while many countries shook off the global financial crash and put their shoulders to the wheel with liberalized financial policies, much of Europe did not, notably the UK. Since people will not willingly adopt austerity to save fat bankers, they must be made to do it. What sort of effect does that have? You tell me.

    http://blog.heritage.org/2010/01/26/the-mostly-free-anglo-american-alliance/

    For a change, here's an example of the western powers slipping badly on an international index - something we have all grown to regard with jaundiced eye, since the western powers make up the indexes, complete with flights of fancy which show themselves whirling ever upward, upward, in freedom and democracy and triple happiness while those they dislike sink into despair and compounding misery.

    Look, though. I realize this article is from 2010, but have things in Europe improved? The UK relies on banking, yet as of 2010 had posted four straight years of decline in economic freedom, and according to the author, both the UK and the United States could look forward to a future which "has more debt and less prosperity, and where politics revolves around how to share the pie, not how to grow it." Was he a prophet, or an idiot?

    Again, you tell me.

    http://www.cfo-insight.com/markets-...nks-stumble-as-chinese-continue-their-ascent/

    This month, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China moved into the top spot in the world, a first for any Chinese bank, after seeing its capital increase by an eye-watering 15%. As I mentioned earlier, the UK relies on banking as a pillar of its economy - yet as of this year the UK's profits from banking have fallen 41%, and slipped below those of France where the UK was realizing twice the profit France was prior to the economic crisis.

    I'm sure I don't have to highlight for readers here the incredible shortsightedness and deliberate foolishness of the western powers in pushing Russia and China closer together - completely guided by infantile political self-indulgence rather than the hardheaded pragmatism which once characterized western decision-making - rather than bending efforts toward dividing them. Thanks largely to Anglospheric incompetence and mutual stroking, a deepening alliance of the next global superpower and economic giant, and the world's largest energy provider is a reality rather than a concept. The west continues to admire the view inside its own rectum as global paradigms tumble to the right and left.

    This far, far exceeds the scope of a discussion on Snowden, but it does serve to illustrate that when you simultaneously abdicate the confidence in your decision-making that was the labour of decades, and your economic clout, you have little in the way of influence when you bluster and threaten. I promise you, days when this sort of table-pounding will bring ill-concealed snickering rather than respectful attentiveness are not far away if this dismal performance continues.
  7. Robert

    Robert Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    No question that driving Russia and China closer together is a huge strategic mistake. The way the West looted Russia in the Nineties was a triumph of short term greed over long term interests. The Cold War did impose some discipline on the West but the collapse of the Soviet Union led to hubris.
  8. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ottawa
    You're being naive. This is what I meant:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-kass-0519-20130519,0,2797334,full.column

    "Are you in your good senses?" said my father. "We have lives here. We have businesses. If we get involved in politics, they will ruin us."
    And no one, not the Roosevelt Democrats or the Reagan Republicans, disagreed. The socialists, the communists, the royalists, everyone nodded their heads.
    This was Chicago. And for a business owner to get involved meant one thing: It would cost you money and somebody from government could destroy you."

  9. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    22
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Victoria, British Columbia
    An excellent discussion point raised by (I can hardly believe I'm typing this) The Guardian - wither cloud-based data handling systems? As many will recall, the court case of Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich, presided over by Madame Justice Gloster, was the first entirely cloud-based trial procedure ever. For the uninitiated, this means a large number of computers connected through the same software, accessing data via a distributed network.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

    If that sounds like electronics mumbo-jumbo, it means there were no hard copies of the books of authorities or other legal staples used in the trial- all electronic, online. Principles concerned with the trial - the judge, lawyers, paralegals all had access to all volumes of the court action and all reports and evidence which were meant to be shared, online and always just a click away. It went smashingly.

    http://www.addleshawgoddard.com/view.asp?content_id=5898&parent_id=5896

    But now what? Just as the technology was poised to go big rather than go home, along comes Edward Snowden and his disclosures, and suddenly trusted allies who were pretty much OK with any amount of American snooping are suddenly waking up to the reality that nothing stored electronically is safe from prying American eyes, because all the software Bigs voluntarily grant U.S. surveillance agencies premium access. Cloud-based technology was poised to be the next big thing in data storage on a massive scale...but who wants the Americans pawing through Granny's pension plan, or company profits graphed over a decade, or YourNameHere Computing's action plan for expansion into the Asian market?

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/28/edward-snowden-death-of-internet

    Included also in this very thought-provoking piece is the author's contention that the Balkanization of the Internet is now inevitable, as the USA cannot be trusted to run such a trust-not-negotiable asset. Reading it, you get a sense of how furious the USA must be with Snowden, because they had such a good thing going -the ability to riffle through pretty much anything they wanted, anytime. They can prate until the cows come home that the system was necessary and legal and foiled all manner of terrorist attacks, but what it boils down to is that allies and foes alike were blasé about the extent of American snooping because they really had no idea of the extent to which everything they said and did electronically was compromised. Now, in the cold light of reality, leaders are realizing that anything they cannot control themselves so that they are absolutely sure of its security is going to have to be done without or passed through other means than electronic. Because nothing stored or passed electronically is safe from snoopers.

    This might well mean the death of cloud technology before its potential was even really understood. And while it will certainly not mean the end of the internet, it may be the beginning of a far different internet than the one we know now.
  10. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    373
    Likes Received:
    55
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Moscow, Russia
  11. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ottawa
    So, what happens
    a) if he has a press conference and reveals more secrets?
    b) one of his outside associates reveals more secrets?
  12. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    22
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Victoria, British Columbia
    I understood from previous reports that he had already given everything he had to disclose to Greenwald, and Greenwald seems to confirm as much when he promises to reveal more, even more explosive information (which, so far as I know, he has yet to do) although he is no longer in direct contact with Snowden. I think Russia will hold to Putin's promise that Snowden can only stay as long as he does nothing further to anger Russia's "American friends". I'm sure his continued walking around free is a constant source of fury, but he seems to mean there must be no further disclosures, and I imagine most of the Russian press in the event of such a conference would take their cue from that and not ask.

    If Greenwald reveals more information - and it seems only Greenwald knows everything, I think the Wikileaks gang mostly busied itself with keeping Snowden hidden - the USA will of course airily dismiss it and then kick the dog all around the room when the eye of the camera is not on it, but there is little it can do.

    I believe the little it thinks it can do is visible now in the gathering gay boycott of Russian vodka and the massing of public opinion against Russia on its supposed "anti-gay law", and that will be the subject of my next post. I notice even the Canadian opposition is dancing around the idea of a boycott of Sochi, although they dare not go quite that far.
  13. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ottawa
  14. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    373
    Likes Received:
    55
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Moscow, Russia
    From RIA Novosti:
    Snowden’s Russia Asylum Gets Mixed Response From Rights Advocates


    "Meanwhile, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, said she had sympathy for Snowden because he had been granted asylum in Russia, where, she said, freedom of information is more infringed upon than in the United States.
    'As for his fate, I can say that I certainly have sympathy for him because he has performed a deed for the sake of the freedom of information. But because of this deed, he got out of the United States into Russia, where freedom of information is being infringed upon to an immeasurably greater extent than in America', she told RIA Novosti."

    Only a few weeks ago the dotard said she believed that Snowden should be returned to the US as he had broken the law and was reported as saying:
    "This man had access to secret information. If he has given the obligation to keep the information secret, if he has disclosed a state secret, he committed a crime. As a person who commits a crime, he must be punished."


    And US dotard McCain, fellow citizen of Alekseeva, huffs and puffs:

    “Russia’s action today is a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States,” the senator said. “It is a slap in the face of all Americans. Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin’s Russia. We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for.”

    “The first thing we should do is significantly expand the Magnitsky Act list to hold accountable the many human violators who are still enjoying a culture of impunity in Russia.”

    McCain urged Americans to take action against Russia and seek “repercussions” for granting the 30-year-old whistleblower temporary political asylum, reports RT.

    A cruise missile strike, maybe, or a covert operation by Delta Force?

    Oh do tell!
  15. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ottawa
    Reuters story comments here worth a glance
    http://www.reuters.com/article/comments/idUSBRE9700N120130801

    I am struck by how generally approving they are of Russia's action.

    I think that it's too early to say what the PR outcome for Russia will be but I'm beginning to think that it might be good.
    1. those who approve of what Snowden did will thank Russia (and that's something like 50% in USA and many more outside)
    2. Many of those who are undecided will admire Russia for standing up against pressure but also for principal
    3. Those contemptuous of Obama will, in some weird way, appreciate VVP for kicking him a good one


    As information about the NSA activity and the ever more ferocious but idiotic US reaction spreads I see 1 and 2 growing.

    I know we all like to moan about how crappy Moscow is at responding to hostile propaganda but I think it's stepped pretty carefully in this.

    More ranting
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...en-asylum-while-obama-wears-the-kick-me-sign/
    Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, e-mails me: “Everything we need to know about this case is revealed by this: (1) Snowden and his supporters claim it’s all about freedom of the press and opposition to government spying. (2) Snowden has chosen to seek asylum in a country that does not have freedom of the press and where there are no limits on government spying, and indeed the country is ruled by a former KGB lieutenant colonel.

    But, even at that, comments are not altogether approving of author's POV.
  16. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    22
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Victoria, British Columbia
    Tell you what - why don't you just expand the holy Magnitsky Act, which was probably in the top 5 stupid foreign-policy mistakes the United States has made this decade, to include everyone from Russia or of Russian descent, and have done with it? And what the hell is a "human violator" anyway?

    I know it should be beyond Grampy McCain's ability to irritate me, because he's so predictable, but he never fails to make me want to hold him down and slap him until he cries.
  17. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ottawa
    The comments continue on the Reuters site. Here are 3 in a row.

    Ironic, that Russia is now granting U.S. citizens asylum from the Tyrants in Washington rather than the other way around. I will ask the question I have been asking since the fall of the Soviet Union, did we win the cold war or did they?

    Good for them. Did you ever think, as an American, that Russia would be a better place to live and have freedoms? I never thought in my lifetime but I now see that viewpoint is wrong
    Thank you Mr. Putin for granting a patriot asylum. We have bad leadership in the United States, but we will start to clean house in 2014.

    Verrrrry interesting.
    Is something big starting to happen here?
  18. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    22
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Victoria, British Columbia
    That is interesting. But the outrage against the "anti-gay bill" - said outrage itself being a payback for Snowden since the west cannot effectively boycott anything else Russia sells - seems to be growing even faster. Given the pro-American government that now runs Canada, it was unsurprising to see John Baird capering and hooting about how Russia's "hatred of gays" might affect athletes in Sochi - either I was unaware that these were the Gay Olympics, or all the western nations are fielding mostly-gay teams in 2014 - and it appears the west's concerns for the feelings of homosexuals trump the Russian government's concern for Russian children. Welcome aboard the Russia-is-cruel-to-gays bandwagon, as it seems we are about to join the USA and UK in another policy putsch.

    As to the commenter who threatened to "clean house in 2014", I can only feel a twinge of nostalgia for his/her innocence. There is no other choice among the political class but more of the same. Obama was as different - on the campaign trail, that is - from his generation of political leaders as it was possible to be. But once in power, unless he was the blindest, most uninformed president ever, he continued to feed the surveillance state to its present out-of-control pitch.

    It's true there are many Americans who do not support the determination to "get" Snowden and who believe he really is a whistleblower. But none of them have the juice to do anything but yell from the sidelines as whatever will happen happens.
  19. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ottawa
    It's important to change the subject.
    VERRRRYYYY IMPORTANT

    So let's talk about gays, Russia and so on. (BTW I spend a lot of time on the Rightosphere and I see the gay thing attack creeping in. For example here's one on SDA There's nothing strong about Putin. He has run Russia into the ground and now has to resort to scapegoating gays (Russia needs the gay equivalent of The Black Panthers).(http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/archives/reset.html#comments).

    If it weren't torquing out on gays, we might be reading and listening to the MSM talking about NSA activities, the tax system oppressing political opponents, how the Tsarnayevs were not caught before they did it and who their connections might be, the deficit, the unemployment numbers, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Adolf Hitler donating to the Dems, Philadelphia voting numbers, Detroit, etc etc etc etc.

    And that wouldn't do. Would it?

    But, you have a point about "juice". A BIG POINT. Maybe even a decisive point.
    But let's wait a week or two and see how this plays out.

    I'm dumb enough to think that people (some people) might actually clue in. Eventually.

    (Not that I have ever personally seen it happen. Well, maybe once or twice.)
  20. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2013
    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    39
    Some very good links and discussions from all of you here.

    I am of the opinion that the US official reaction was and continues to be not even so much hardline as hysterical and just bizarre regarding the Snowden case.

    Do they not realize that they are coming off as the baddies here to the vast majority of people outside the US (and about half the people in the US itself)? *

    On the topic, latest from McFaul, who it seems now communicates the official diplomatic position via Facebook:

    * Although the US doesn't have a monopoly on digging the hole deeper when it should just stop, of course; Russia's entire reaction to Magnitsky was an excruatingly sl0-mo demonstration of that.

Share This Page