Snowden: Top Ten Signs that Putin might not be on Washington’s Side

The American political class and corporate press professed itself shocked, shocked, when Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to order the arrest Edward Snowden, marooned in a transit lounge at the Moscow airport, or his return to the United States.

Among Putin’s major projects has been making Russia a Great Power, recovering some of the stature Moscow enjoyed in the days of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. It is not fair, however, to see Putin through a Cold War lens. Although he was a KGB (Soviet intelligence) field officer, he broke with the KGB in 1990 and supported Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin in turning against the Soviet Union and its sclerotic police state. Putin does not want the Soviet Union back, and his policies are quite distinct from its– he is not a communist but a Russian nationalist comfortable with an important role for the Orthodox Church and a capitalist economy.

In the 1990s under Yeltsin, Russia was reduced to an American satellite, and Putin clearly still resents that period. Russia’s economy collapsed under the tender ministrations of the ‘shock therapy’ urged by Washington and London. It lost 10 million people, declining from 150 million to 140 million, as young couples ceased having children out of fear of the economic crisis continuing, and as older people drank themselves to death in despair. In the past decade, in part because of Russia’s energy sector (oil and natural gas), the country’s economy returned to strength (its GDP is the 9th largest in the world).

Here are the signs that Putin, who presided over Russia’s comeback and who wants the respect owed a superpower, might not be on Washington’s side:

1. Russia has been supporting Iran in the latter’s struggle against US sanctions.

2. Russia built three nuclear plants for Iran at a time when the US was trying to force Iran to give up its nuclear programs, which appears to be peaceful but which the US believes is aimed ultimately at production of an atomic bomb.

3. Russian banks have been helping Iran export its petroleum, despite the US campaigning against these sales

4. Russia supports Bashar al-Assad and his Baath Party in Syria. The US is on the other side, backing rebel forces.

5. Russia seeks to deliver S300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, over Washington’s strenuous objections.

6. Russia opposed the NATO intervention in Libya and points to that country’s post-revolution disarray as a sign that it was an ill-advised failure.

7. Russia is in competition with the United States for the affections of countries such as Uzbekistan in Central Asia, where Russia fears that the US wants to reestablish a military base– a step the Kremlin opposes.

8. Russia views the US plan for a missile defense shield to be impractical and destabilizing

9. The US congress’s ‘Magnitsky act” set off a new cold war, with Russia smoldering with resentment over US sanctions against 60 Russian officials..

10. Russia was absolutely furious when the US fingered it in the issue of human trafficking.

10 Responses

  1. Thanks to You, thrice-blessed Almighty God of Abraham and Isaac, that we are finally returning the Empire we have been building in your Holy Name to that set of Great International Confrontations with Seemingly Actual Evil Empires, with themes and indoctrination that are so comfortably familiar, and the policies and behaviors and institutions and expenditures and apologies that can more easily be made to conform to the Teachings.

    Thank You, bless You, Most High Christ Jesus, for setting us finally, properly, back on the True Path to Your Holy Apocalypse! Before those presaged in your Divine Revelation evilly dismantle all Your Sanctified Strategic and Nuclear Weapons! and all the Really Cool and Enhanced Lethality stuff we have so diligently been creating for You!

  2. Morning Joe had their crack team of analyst (kidding) suggesting that Putin was loving his role of asserting Russian authority over the US.

    I suppose the neocons, who have their shorts in a serious wad about Snowden, think Putin should hand over Mr. Snowden in the same fashion Bill Clinton threw Elian Gonzalez to the wolves.

    Being a supporter of Snowden, I fear for his safety and what would happen if he was returned to the Gitmo loving Obama administration.

  3. Interesting article.

    What I don’t quite understand is, why does the USA still hold on to ancient politics from the Cold War era?

    We have a new tech savvy generation, new values of openness, transparency and peer reviewing, not only on software and hardware, but also on other fields of life, which is determined to shine light on secret deals behind the scenes, deals that ultimately affect each and everyone on the planet adversely.

    Human rights, privacy from government snooping, freedom of speech and democracy were attained after centuries of bloody battles in Europe and elsewhere. Are we tossing it away no questions asked, just because the shadowy sections within the government say so? Yes, it’s war on terror they say, but why is then Obama so friendly with the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, Al Qaeda in Syria etc.?

    World’s opinion is turning against the US rapidly, it is no longer seen as the ultimate refuge of civil liberties, human rights and freedom of expression.

    USA sees itself as the world police, but the rest of the world is tired of it all. What I suggest is that there has to be a paradigm shift, instead of having one world police, we should have world sheriffs, Brazil taking care of South America, China it’s neighborhood, with the help of Russia in case of N-Korea, Iran the Middle East, provided they obey the international laws and treaties, perhaps initially under supervision of other sheriffs, Russia could oversee the stability of it’s immediate surroundings and EU, US ensuring prosperity of it’s own citizens/Canada and jumping in on the Central America if need be. Australia could oversee the areas around it and finally India to see there are no skirmishes with Pakistan etc.

    This would free enormous resources on the US end, perhaps to be put into health care, education and economy instead of helping to create wars and skirmishes to sell weapons to.

    This model would change the game a bit, and in order for it to work there must be mutual understanding and trust. I see such changes out there, people and the new generation is ready, are the politicians and their shadowy masters, the military/banking complex?

    Just pondering, that’s all.

  4. There’s an interesting piece in The New York Times today by spy novelist Alex Berenson to the effect that if the Obama administration had not immediately criminalized Snowden so seriously for his revelations that he faces life in prison and had instead indicated willingness to discuss its surveillance programs, and invited Snowden back to the U.S. to face a reasonable penalty (a year or two in jail according to the author) it would not have put him and whatever information is on those hard drives into the tender mercies of questionable players such as China and Russia.

    Not only is the government spying on us, but in its zeal to suppress any knowledge of its surveillance and keep it from the American people, it has once again hoist itself on its own petard.

    • The US government’s desire to torture whistleblowers and create political prisoners has definitely given whistleblowers a STRONG incentive to turn to the other superpowers.

      The US government is doing the same sort of deranged nonsense which the USSR did — the sort which encouraged people in the USSR to defect to the West.

  5. The “missile defense” nonsense — which would never have worked — was exceptionally stupid geopolitically, as its only function was to anger and alienate Russian leaders.

    Result: Russian leaders are doing their best to sabotage US government geopolitical moves even when this is not in Russia’s best interest (as in Syria). Now, obviously, supporting Iran economically is very much in Russia’s best interest, and defending people like Snowden is too.

    Supporting Assad isn’t really in Russia’s best interest. However, supporting Assad is seen by Putin as showing the US that the US isn’t the only superpower, so Putin does it.

  6. Putin is the only person right now who can prevent another disastrous Anglo-American full intervention in the Middle East by keeping the Americans and British out of Syria. Putin will not allow Syria to become the next Libya. This will not sit well with the Anglo-American political class. But in his own way, Putin is doing the American and British people a favor.

  7. Instead of lists of things, for those who prefer in depth analysis, I’d recommend Samuel Charap’s piece at The National Interest entitled “Beyond the Russian Reset.”

  8. Guantanamo prison is not on American soil, so USA can keep anyone there without charge or recourse as long as it wants to incarcerate any one.

    Moscow airport transit lounge in not under Russian jurisdiction, it is a space for anyone to come & go. It is a no man’s land

    Edward Snowdon can stay there as long as he wishes to remain there. Moreover, USA does not have extradition treaty with Russia.

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