Vladimir Putin and Edward Snowden: Best Buddies
By a margin of two to one or better, Americans believe that Edward Snowden is traitor, not a hero, who did serious damage to, rather than helping, the people of the United States. Americans do not consider him worthy of amnesty in return for his assistance; rather, he should be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
By harboring this malignant fugitive, Russia is committing an act of war against the USA. And that's just the way proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin likes it.
The latest poll regarding American attitudes toward their treacherous countryman clearly shows condemnation of Snowden's misconduct, but Russians continue to offer Snowden aid and comfort because their hatred of America and her values trumps even self-preservation instincts. The American economy is eight times larger than Russia's, and America is part of the mighty NATO alliance, whereas Russia has virtually no allies at all. Yet the Kremlin is still spoiling for a neo-Soviet fight -- the same type that drove the USSR to ruin.
Before Putin granted Snowden asylum, he stated unequivocally: "If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound on my lips."
Subsequent events have shown that Putin was simply lying, as is his wont. Snowden has been permitted to launch an all-out offensive against his former country.
Last week, Snowden openly courted Brazil, asking for asylum there in return for helping Brazil undermine American intelligence-gathering. Before that, Snowden had made a similar offer to Germany.
Moreover, a new release of Snowden's documents directly damaged Russia's American partners by disclosing secret cooperation with Sweden and Norway against Russia. It's hardly surprising, of course, that Sweden and the U.S. would cooperate, given that Sweden, Norway and the U.S. are routinely victimized by acts of provocative, aggressive Russian military confrontation.
So in the past few weeks alone, Snowden has actively sought to undermine U.S. security interests in regard to not one, not two, not three, but four different countries around the globe. So much for the value of Vladimir Putin's word.
Snowden claims that he no longer has any of the secret materials he pilfered from the National Security Agency while working for one of its contractors. He claims that he handed over the entire trove of documents to "journalists" in Hong Kong before flying on to Russia. And he did not personally release the Swedish documents; they came from "journalist" Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian.
Never mind that there is no factual basis for this claim whatsoever.
Hence, the Kremlin's state-owned propaganda mouthpiece Russia Today reported: "The latest leak has nothing to do with national security and is 'very conclusive about the fact that part of what they are doing is spying on energy companies, obviously for economic advantage,' Greenwald added."
So Greenwald and Snowden claim, apparently, that Putin never had any problem with Snowden damaging the U.S. economically or politically -- only militarily.
One can't help but notice the clear foot-in-the-door tactic being practiced by Snowden and Greenwald. Their first new release of documents involves exposing attacks by the U.S. on Russia -- in other words, the type of release Putin would be least likely to object to. With their foot in the door, who knows what other measures will next be attempted.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Snowden declared: "There's a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any [of my stolen] documents." That's nonsense, of course.
Andrei Soldatov, a leading expert on Russia's secret police, says that Snowden is at present "actually surrounded" by Russian KGB agents (the agency is now know as the FSB). Soldatov states: "When the F.S.B. actually got him, they started to handle it their own way. This is the way the security services operate all the time." What's more, how could Snowden possibly be sure that mere journalists would be able to safeguard his materials from the Chinese secret police?
Snowden and Greenwald have already tried to blackmail America into leaving them alone, claiming they were holding back information that would harm the U.S. even more. The Swedish revelations are apparently the next step in that blackmail scheme. Nothing else can be expected, given that Snowden is being shielded by Russia, one of America's worst enemies -- just as Mitt Romney correctly stated during the last presidential election campaign.
What's truly bewildering is the silence of Barack Obama on Russian duplicity in regard to Snowden. The Coward in Chief appears to be so intimidated by Putin that he simply can't stand up for American interests, and not even national security interests, where Putin is concerned.
It's because of this disgraceful cowardice by Obama that Putin believes he can afford to confront a country whose economy is eight times larger and whose population is double that of Russia.
Were Obama a man and not a mouse, things might be very different. The world has just seen Putin capitulate to international pressure and release political prisoners like Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the Pussy Riot performance artists, as well as the Greenpeace activists, so he won't be embarrassed by protests relating to them at the upcoming Winter Olympics. A consistent American foreign policy could easily have the effect of forcing Putin to back away from his new cold war entirely.
When asked about Snowden at a recent press conference, Putin called him "noble" and stated that "he is an interesting person for me. Lots of people including leading politicians and my colleagues changed their worldview thanks to him."
In the same press conference, when asked who the second-most important politician in Russia is, one of three names Putin gave was the racist, fire-breathing anti-American lunatic Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whom Putin called "talented." You may recognize Zhirinovsky as the Russian who claims that the USA stole Alaska from Russia and must give it back, and who wants to ban the U.S. dollar from Russia's shores.
Putin's cold war is in full swing, and not just on the level of rhetoric and espionage. Stories pour out of Russia on a daily basis recounting one provocative move with nuclear missiles after another, and Russian military spending is soaring.
And Russia continues to bully its smaller neighbors, from Moldova to Ukraine, with the same brutish tactics employed in Soviet times. Russia didn't hesitate to roll tanks into Georgia in 2008, or launch a cyber warfare campaign against Estonia, and it is bulking up militarily so it can continue to take such actions in the future.
It simply could not be clearer how much contempt Putin has for Americans and their values, or how wedded he is to a neo-Soviet mindset of confrontation and attack.
We have already gone so far back to the future that the third-most listened to radio station in Russia these days is Radio Liberty, the NATO project designed to combat Soviet propaganda.
Even Obama is being forced to take some action. He recently delivered a humiliating snub to Putin by withholding all currently serving, ranking U.S. officials from the American delegation to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and by inserting not one, but two out homosexuals instead. It'll be the first time in nearly fifteen years that a current or former president was not part of a delegation, and the presidents of Germany and France have likewise declined Russia's invitation.
One of the two homosexuals, tennis great Billie Jean King, promptly tweeted that she'd use her position to confront Russians anti-gay crackdown, seeking a "watershed transformation." Ouch.
But just as Jimmy Carter's feeble response to Russia's invasion of Afghanistan achieved nothing other than to embolden the Kremlin, neither will Obama's meek gesture. Americans can only hope that two years from now, a patriot worthy of being compared to Ronald Reagan will drag U.S. foreign policy out of Obama's gutter of shame and show the Russians once again that seeking to destroy the America is a neo-Soviet fool's errand.
Follow Kim Zigfeld on Twitter @larussophobe.