Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Imperial hubris and plain stupidity

I have to say that I am both amazed and amused at the fantastically stupid manner in which US politicians have reacted to the Snowden affair.  Without pausing for a single second to think of the possible reaction to their attitude, they began to demand, threaten and otherwise bully not only China and Russia, but even any other country which in the future might render some assistance to Snowden.  Apparently, US politicians fail to realize a few very simple things:

a) By openly bullying and threatening China and Russia they are making it impossible for Chinese or Russian politicians to cave in to their demands and render Snowden back to the USA.

b) The White House is threatening Russia and China with unspecified "consequences" as if for the past several decades the USA did not use very dirty trick in the book to threaten, subvert, confront, antagonize, blackmail and otherwise piss off not only the Kremlin but the entire Russian population.  Seriously - what else could the USA possibly do to Russia?  As for China, Snowden just made public that the US had been engaged in a massive spying program against China, something which the Chinese authorities definitely knew, but which the Chinese general public did not know for a fact.  And now they want to make demands on the Chinese about the person who revealed that?

c) The USA and the UK are chock full with Chechen terrorists, Jewish oligarchs and even Russian bankers who have all run away from Russian justice and who have all received political asylum (yes, even bankers on the run!).  And, of course, there are plenty of real Russian defectors there too.  How can they seriously think that they can ignore any and all demands from the Russian justice system and then have Snowden rendered just because they now are banging their fists on the table?!

d) In legal terms Russia has no extradition treaty with the USA and therefore no obligation at all to render Snowden.  But then, the Brits actually had the arrogance to demand that Russia extradite a Russian citizen (Andrei Lugovoi) even while they were refusing to extradite Boris Berezovsky.

What amazes me, and diplomats all over the planet, is that, simply put, this is not how "things are done".  Normally, a request for extradition is made rather quietly, in as low  profile as possible, and usually after behind closed doors political consultations.  In the case of defections from intelligence/security organizations there is an "understanding" between the countries that these are never subject to rendition.  Take Poteev for example, a truly huge defection with nothing short of apocalyptic consequences for the Russian external intelligence agency SVR: neither Putin, nor Medvedev nor Lavrov have even mentioned his name in any public statements.  The only exception was Putin who said that "traitors always end up living miserable lives" and he did that to a domestic audience.  But Russian diplomats are mature enough to understand that once a guy like Poteev makes it to the USA, they have to accept the loss, correct the mistakes they made and turn the page.  What you do not do is have hysterical fits of rage and indulge in threatening the entire planet with fire and brimstone if they help your traitor.

The way the USA treats this Snowden affair shows that US politicians are poorly educated idiots with an insular mentality combined with a god complex.  They have the mentality of a bully who simply cannot accept that there are rules which everybody else follows and which apply to him too.  Beyond any doubt, the US diplomatic corps is the worst, most illiterate and incompetent of any major power and as a result of all that, the US foreign policy is clumsy, irrational, self-defeating and fundamentally dysfunctional.  Hence the long series of political defeats the USA had to cope with recently.

Long gone are the days of James Baker who truly was a born diplomat, an effective and refined negotiator and a politician with an acute sense of "the other" who brilliantly succeeded in putting together a large international coalition against Saddam Hussein (which even included the Syrians!).  Following Baker all the USA had is a mix of arrogant and bellicose women like Madelaine Albright, Condi Rice or Hillary Clinton, or spineless fake-heroes like Colin Powell or John Kerry who were supposedly war heroes but who never showed any individual courage or leadership qualities and who, as a result, were easily bullied into doing that which they fully knew was the dumb and wrong thing to do.

So here we have it.  The USA, biggest superpower on the planet, is reacting to a fundamentally minor annoyance like some crazy mix of a women with PMS and a 5 year old spoiled brat.  In a way, of course, it is funny.  But in a deeper way, this clearly illustrates something very serious.

Any good student of history will tell you that regardless of the moral and ethical merits of any political system, one can judge the viability of that system by the kind of people it promotes to its top positions.  The better the ability of any system to identify, promote and place the correct people at the correct position, the better the overall viability of the system.  Judged by this criteria, the USA clearly has lost its former ability to place the best people possible to key position.  Instead all it offers is a long list of mediocre, arrogant, ignorant and outright nasty individuals who simply do not have what it takes to get things done.

Yet another welcome sign that the Anglo Empire is running out of gas.

The Saker