Polar Bear Putin's Refusal to Extradite Snowden
At the G8 Summit in Ireland, Barack Obama had an opportunity to quell tension with Vladimir Putin over Syria by stepping aside and allowing the Russian president to use the exercise facilities that the president's people had reserved first.
Wasn't it Barack Obama who leaned in and whispered to Dmitry Medvedev to deliver the message to Mr. Putin that after the 2012 election, he'd be more flexible? Then why, when given the chance to prove it, didn't Obama forego the gym and allow Putin to use the workout space?
Instead of exhibiting diplomatic graciousness, me-first Obama favored himself and proved once again that his inflexibility in the little things is indicative of his inflexibility in larger things.
Prior to the Ireland gym standoff, Putin was already visibly annoyed with the man-child president. Consequently, one can only guess what was running through Polar Bear Putin's mind as the Russian muscleman chopped his way through the frigid waters of the lake surrounding Co Fermanagh's Lough Erne hotel.
Thankfully, while Obama was doing curls with three-pound weights, Putin didn't decide to make a show of force by working out his biceps and triceps chopping frozen wood for the hotel fireplace.
Nevertheless, it didn't take long to find out what Putin was plotting while aerobically exercising in that ice bath!
Recently, Russia was presented with a perfect opportunity in the form of ex-CIA employee/NSA leaker Edward Snowden seeking asylum. In response, Putin seems to be responding to American requests for Snowden's return with the same level of inflexibility Barack Obama showed when he pointed toward the lake and told Vladimir to "have a great workout!"
Obama himself is probably one of the main reasons that while Russian immigration authorities review his plea for asylum, Edward "the whistleblower" Snowden is safely hunkered down in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.
Much like Obama enjoyed his time in that temperature-controlled gym, now, compliments of the Kremlin, Snowden is safely in the bosom of Putin-provided refuge.
Meanwhile, regardless of how authoritatively the U.S. begs or how earnestly Eric "Fast and Furious" Holder promises that if they send Snowden home, he won't personally arrange the execution of the whistleblower, Putin has dug in with the same type of obstinacy Obama displayed when refusing to give up the weight room in that Irish hotel.
Not only that, but from the geriatric ward also known as the U.S. Senate comes the laughable threat that if Snowden is not extradited, sanctions will be imposed against Russia that include "revocation or suspension of trade privileges and preferences." Well, that certainly must have caused Putin to quake in his frozen swim trunks.
Come on, now -- does anyone really believe that America's Mom-Jeans President, or Senator Harry Reid or John McCain, intimidates a judo champion who swims in Siberian rivers and reels in pikes as big as crocodiles? I think not.
Vladimir's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov maintains that Snowden's request for temporary asylum is not on the Russian president's agenda. Yet Vladimir did find time to take a break from ice hockey to send a friendly message via Peskov to Obama saying that "Russia ... never extradite[s] anyone, and will not extradite" Snowden.
That's why the same flexibility Obama demonstrated when he had the chance to spare Putin an early-morning swim in Lough Erne is being shown to him with regard to Edward Snowden. Now it's the Kremlin that has dibs on what Obama wants, and it's Putin who is refusing to back down.
Jeannie hosts a blog at www.jeannie-ology.com.