Russia has impressed the world, which views the Kremlin as the “winner” and the White House as the “loser.”This judgment is correct. In the Snowden case, all the other countries involved have become winners while the US is the sole loser. Washington put on a show of bravado, but failed to extradite Snowden in the end. By contrast, Moscow displayed its national characteristics of decisiveness and boldness and kept Washington at bay.
As we said yesterday, canceling the summit was not a mistake, but making Snowden the cause definitely was. As The New Republic‘s Julia Ioffe pointed out in a profanity-ridden rant (which would’ve been much more effective translated into calm analysis), the outcome of the Snowden affair is at best and most charitably an unforced error by the Obama administration:
You can’t back Putin into a corner and leave him no options. If you are a world leader worth your salt, and have a good diplomatic team working for you, you would know that. You would also know that when dealing with thugs like Putin…things like this are better handled quietly. Here’s the thing: Putin responds to shows of strength, but only if he has room to maneuver. You can’t publicly shame him into doing something, it’s not going to get a good response.
Ouch. The Obama administration’s reputation for foreign policy competence sure is taking a beating in the press these days…[Edward Snowden photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]