After Brittney Griner swapped for Russian arms dealer, message sent is that woke politics has its perks
Is there anything woke politics can't do?
That's the message the Biden administration has sent with its prisoner exchange of woke basketball star Brittney Griner, convicted of bringing her drug stash into Russia, for Russia's "Lord of War" and "Merchant of Death" arms dealer, Viktor Bout.
As exchanges go, it is, shall we say, a little lopsided in terms of the alleged crimes.
Griner, after all, was convicted of bringing in her personal stash of drugs into Russia during a basketball tour. Bout? Well, he wanted to "kill Americans" and made a deal with undercover DEA agents in Bangkok to sell arms to agents pretending to be FARC's Marxist cocaine terrorists, selling them rockets and launchers intended to take out civilian airliners. That wasn't a problem for him. Nor was it a problem for Joe Biden, who will now see this guy on the loose again.
Bout may or may not have been guilty of all they claimed he was guilty of, but we know he had tons of practice in that arena. Starting out low in Africa's trashcan wars, where he had been a KGB officer in Angola as the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, Bout, who was ethnically Ukrainian, began to sell arms, aircraft and leftover weaponry lying around during Ukraine's original founding mess in the 1990s, back when Bill Clinton was telling Ukraine to give up their nuclear weapons and trust him to protect the country instead.
After making a pile there, Bout branched out to selling arms to the Taliban and al-Qaida, moving Osama bin Laden's assets from Sudan (remember the gum arabic empire?) to Afghanistan to help him out. He sold arms to keep the fires hot in the Balkans, and sold arms across Africa, the crummier the dictator, the closer he was. He met his end when he went to Bangkok to sell a couple of junk planes in 2008 and somehow met up with what he thought were FARC terrorists from Colombia. After that, he learned the hard way that they were DEA agents on the job.
The Thais, who were embroiled in their own coup mess, where a populist president, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by a Soros-like group called the "yellows," busted Bout and eventually shipped him to the states where he has been doing time in the can for a couple of decades now. The extradition was done by the yellows as a favor to Democrats in the Obama administration, so whether he was guilty of everything they say he was not beyond a shadow of a doubt, as there might be some skeevy backstory given that the Clintons were involved and they loved to meddle in Southeast Asian affairs. Just ask Jim Riady or "Subway" Johnny Chung, not to mention the Indonesian currency board meddling of 1998.
That said, there's little doubt that if Bout for all his crimes and profiteering was exchanged for a small fry on the crime front like Griner, Bout had to have had connections to the Russian state. Vlad Putin doesn't do nice things for other Russians just to be nice.
American negotiators were handed a take-it-or-leave-it offer of Griner for Bout, and they took it, Joe Biden crowing about the great victory for the wokester America-hater Griner and the U.S., and Jill Biden hugging Griner's wife in a White House appearance.
It's right that she was released, given her minor offense, which didn't merit decades in the Gulag, which is what the Russians dealt to her, but it hardly came at zero cost to the U.S. The Russians must be laughing up their sleeves at the kind of deal they got, given Joe Biden's weakness for wokesters. For starters, the message delivered to Putin by the deal was that if he wants to shake something out of Joe Biden, all he has to do is grab a miscreant and use that person as a bargaining chip for a prisoner swap for something or someone that's really important to him. Got some intelligence operatives in jail? Fine, snatch a dolt who hates her own country and likes to carry a little weed derivative on the side. The spies will be back in no time.
More seriously, Biden left less woke and less famous Americans still stuck in Russia as they made that Griner-Bout deal, Americans still there on either trumped-up charges, as seems to be the case with Paul Whelan, or else draconian sentences for minor crimes, now left behind. One such person was Paul Whelan, who has done four years in a Russian prison on what he says are trumped-up espionage charges. Too bad about that. Joe Biden's claim that he will never forget these imprisoned Americans is about as credible as his promise made to Afghanistan's translators, who got left in the dust in Biden's hasty shambling U.S. pullout of Afghanistan, where Afghans who couldn't get visas to the U.S. for terrorist ties and activities, or simply just crime, were let into the states no questions asked, while Afghan translators who put their lives on the line for Americans were studiously ignored by Joe Biden. Anybody heard anything about them lately? That's what happens when you burn U.S. credibility -- nobody believes you when you say you plan to get every American back home.
The remaining Americans in Putin's prison state can probably expect nothing. That's created a lot of resentment and criticism, given that some are given more than others from the state of Biden. Where's the next Bout in jail for Putin to spring now that the FBI has turned its attention to MAGA supporters instead of Russian spies. They don't have anyone.
It suggests that wokesters who have disrespected the American flag as Griner did are given preference to other Americans in matters of prisoner exchanges and too bad if you are, like Whelan, a former Marine who served his country in the past instead of insulted it.
Message sent: Wokesterism has its perks under Joe Biden. Rest assured, tyrants across the globe are taking notes.
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