Quick… Reset again!! RT @AP: BREAKING: Putin: Snowden is in transit zone of Moscow airport, Russia will not extradite him.
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) June 25, 2013
Movie Of The Week: Edward Snowden in “The Terminal” pic.twitter.com/6W5eCwOVFS
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) June 25, 2013
As should be clear, Russia doesn’t actually gain anything from helping Snowden, all it does is expose itself to the full wrath and fury of every part of Washington officialdom. Unless you’re defending a national interest of the first order, exposing yourself to the full wrath and fury of Washington officialdom is a really stupid thing to do.
There’s no obvious principle at stake in the Snowden case, no real “interest” that the Russians are trying to defend: they’re just acting like jerks because they think they can get away with it. This is a foolish decision. Russia has never been popular in Washington and the Obama administration was barely able to prevent the Magnitsky bill from becoming a full-fledged diplomatic disaster (it did so largely by soft-peddling enforcement). How willing do you think the Obama folks are going to be to “defend” Russia when Congress inevitably starts debating additional sanctions or punitive measures? Do you really think they’re going to expose themselves to an endless array of bad press on behalf of a country that engaged in such calculated and deliberate antagonism?
In contrast, Max Fisher suggests that China thought it was doing the US a favor by sneaking Snowden out of Hong Kong:
White House spokesman Jay Carney lambasted the Hong Kong government for apparently aiding in Snowden’s flight to Moscow, saying that the “decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.” … Take a moment, though, to consider how this might look from Beijing. Typically, when the United States and China argue about transferring a high-profile and politically sensitive individual between their custodies, it’s a Chinese dissident whom the U.S. wants to grant asylum. Those cases are often perceived as deeply embarrassing for China, although Beijing has increasingly learned to live with them. Perhaps Chinese authorities saw this as a rare reversal: an American political dissident looking for asylum in Hong Kong, which despite its special status is a part of China. In the Chinese government worldview, granting asylum would have been the real slap to the United States.
More Dish on Snowden’s search for asylum here.