Obama Vacillates (Again) on Edward Snowden
In yet another astounding act of craven political cowardice last week, the Obama administration began walking back its tough stance on the traitor Edward Snowden. Even as this happened, three of the highest-ranking Republicans in Congress revealed that Snowden could be a Russian spy, and both Snowden and Vladimir Putin promptly spit in Obama's eye.
It was Eric Holder who was chosen to carry water for Obama in retreat. He essentially told one of the worst American traitors since Benedict Arnold to give him a call, and they'd probably be able to work things out. It's clear that the Obama regime is starting to realize that by prosecuting Snowden, it is reminding the world, and especially Americans, about the totalitarian surveillance measures it has been practicing ever since Obama came to power -- an issue that could come to a head right in the middle of the next presidential contest.
In response, Snowden made his views on the United States perfectly plain. He believes that the entire U.S. justice system, despite the jury trial right that doesn't exist where he now lives, is hopelessly corrupt and incapable of giving him a fair hearing. As a result, he refused to even discuss making a deal with Obama that would involve him trying to explain his actions in court, as, for example, Daniel Ellsberg once successfully did.
And Russia was equally clear. It promptly announced that it would continue to give sanctuary, aid and comfort to Snowden. So much for the vaunted Obama "reset"! Even as Russia was making this announcement, Federal Express, United Postal Service, and DHL informed the world that because of draconian new state controls on shipping, they would no longer deliver packages to private individuals there. As Putin daily ratchets up his cold war with the USA, he's simultaneously turning the clock back on freedom and democracy and, like the Frankenstein monster, working feverishly to bring the USSR back to life.
The one silver lining here is that the softer Obama gets on Snowden, the more Republicans are starting to realize how evil the latter must really be. House Speaker John Boehner went on the Tonight Show and called Vladimir Putin, Snowden's host in Russia, a "thug" and Snowden a "traitor to our country." He would not confirm or deny statements made by not one, but two of his most powerful peers, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), that secret briefings they had received indicated that Snowden had the assistance of a foreign government in stealing U.S. secrets, most likely Russia.
Boehner's brutal personal condemnation of Putin on such a public and popular American forum, coming just two weeks before Putin hosts the world in Sochi for the 2014 Olympics, shows how isolated Putin has become. Make no mistake: that's how Putin wants it. Just like his Soviet forefathers, Putin wants to drive out of Russia all vestiges of foreign influence at the same time as he crushes all domestic opposition, leaving him with the unfettered ability to dictate every aspect of life in Russia. If isolating his country means that the Russian economy is severely impaired, so much the better, because people who are poor, weak, and ignorant are far easier to control than those who are rich, powerful, and smart.
If you would respond by asking whether Russian poverty might not motivate Russians to lash out at their government, just as occurred during the Bolshevik revolution, you should have a look at some commentary in Russia's Snob magazine by pundit Pavel Karazin (Russian-language link). Putin has found the antidote to this kind of blowback, and it is Russian corruption. Karazin explains that the world won't see Muscovites rising up against their neo-Soviet overlords as valiant Ukrainians are doing in Kiev these days because Russians are still so totally dependent economically on the Russian state and its monopoly over their oil resources, Russia's main source of income.
As Karazin points out, dependence on the Russian state has meant choking off the growth of entrepreneurialism and small business, forces which might threaten Putin's grip on power. Karazin bemoans the resulting absence of the interesting, accessible array of eating establishments that most large cities like Moscow can boast of, stating, "There is no place to eat in Moscow." In a recent Oxfam International survey rating countries based on food availability, prices, quality, and the health outcomes of people's diets, Russia shockingly didn't even make the top 40. While Russians are not starving, they eat extremely low-quality food and pay obscene prices for it, Oxfam found. In other words, welcome back to the USSR!
Indeed, Putin is increasingly unpopular as the Russian economy returns to neo-Soviet-style stagnation. A recent poll shows that less than one third of the electorate would want to vote for Putin if an election were held tomorrow, while nearly two-thirds have no idea who they would choose as their next president. But when he sees such results, Putin only smiles.
That's because the same poll shows that there is no opposing candidate who generates any significant level of interest among voters, and because it has become so laughably easy for Putin to manipulate election results. Putin has successfully jailed, exiled, or tarnished every single political figure who has dared to challenge him, and he has achieved total control over television broadcasting so that most Russians, who rely on TV for news, have an entirely warped view of the world, one similar to what prevailed in Russia in Soviet times.
Putin's neo-Soviet hatred of the USA knows no bounds. Even as Americans have become increasingly horrified at the prospect of terrorist events breaking out during the Winter Olympics in Russia, Putin has blocked the FBI from providing desperately needed security assistance. In other words, Putin is telling the world he'd rather watch Olympians perish than admit he needs help from Americans.
And Snowden is the ultimate expression of Putin's hatred for the USA and its values. It was bad enough when it simply appeared that Putin was offering Snowden sanctuary, but now it's clear that there are good reasons to think Snowden could have been working hand-in-glove with the Russians from the start. And if he was, he was emboldened by the "reset" policy embraced by Obama, a policy of appeasement that encouraged Putin to believe that Obama would let him get away with murder.
Follow Kim Zigfeld on Twitter @larussopobe.