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Obama’s ‘Snowden Setbacks’ With China, Russia

From a suddenly critical Associated Press:

Obama hit by Snowden setbacks with China, Russia

By JULIE PACE | June 25, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — For President Barack Obama, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s globe-trotting evasion of U.S. authorities has dealt a startling setback to efforts to strengthen ties with China and raised the prospect of worsening tensions with Russia.

Indeed, Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday called U.S. demands for Snowden’s extradition "ungrounded and unacceptable." …

Former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., said it wasn’t clear that Obama’s "charm offensive" with Xi and Putin would matter much on this issue.

When has Mr. Obama’s vaunted ‘charm’ ever worked with anyone?

The U.S. has "very little leverage," she said, given the broad array of issues on which the Obama administration needs Chinese and Russian cooperation…

Well, we could threaten to stop letting China lend us money. We could threaten to only unilaterally cut our nuclear arsenal by a 50% instead of 80%.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, in unusually harsh language, said China had "unquestionably" damaged its relationship with Washington.

"The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust," Carney said. "We think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback. If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations, then there is a problem." …

China must be quaking to hear such strong words from the Spokeskid.

"We are expecting the Russians to examine the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden for his return to the United States," Carney [also] said.

Oh, our aching sides.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday bluntly rejected the U.S. request, saying Snowden hasn’t crossed the Russian border, and angrily lashed out at the U.S. for warnings of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply.

"We consider the attempts to accuse Russia of violation of U.S. laws and even some sort of conspiracy, which on top of all that are accompanied by threats, as absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable," Lavrov said…

Thank goodness Hillary re-set our relations with Russia. Otherwise, they might not be the reliable allies they now are.

Meanwhile, we have this from a suddenly critical Washington Post:

Obama’s hands-off approach to extraditing Snowden draws criticism

By Philip Rucker | June 24, 2013

It was bright and sunny in Washington on Saturday as President Obama stepped out of the White House in flip-flops and khaki shorts to hit the golf course with his buddies.

At the same time, officials throughout his administration were scrambling to keep one of America’s most-wanted fugitives from evading extradition in Hong Kong.

The juxtaposition illustrates the hands-off approach Obama has taken — in public, at least — to the government’s efforts to bring Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old former contractor who exposed classified details of U.S. surveillance programs, back to the United States to face charges of revealing government secrets.

Wow. It’s almost as if the Washington Post is saying Obama shouldn’t be playing golf under these circumstances. That it’s bad ‘optics.’

Conservatives say Obama’s posture in the case provides further evidence of a commander in chief whose credibility abroad has declined and who shrinks from presidential leadership at moments of international crisis, including in response to last fall’s attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

“Nobody’s afraid of this guy,” said former George W. Bush administration adviser Eliot A. Cohen, who argues that Obama should have personally stood up to Chinese and Russian officials. “Nobody’s saying there are any real consequences that would come from crossing him — and that’s an awful position for the president of the United States to be in.”

But some foreign policy experts were more sympathetic to the administration, saying that inserting Obama directly into the negotiations would be folly. It is embarrassing enough that Snowden is on the run, they said; the president’s personal involvement would only further risk the United States’ credibility abroad…

Don’t worry. A way will eventually be found to explain how Obama did exactly the right thing.

Administration officials have not detailed any actions that Obama has personally taken to bring Snowden to justice, saying only that he has set the administration’s strategic direction and has been briefed regularly by his national security staff.

Unlike other crises, the White House has not distributed any photographs of Obama and his advisers monitoring Snowden’s movements in the Situation Room or calling foreign leaders from the Oval Office. All known communications between U.S. officials and authorities in Hong Kong, China and Russia have been made by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other underlings, although a senior administration official said Obama could become personally involved at some point…

When has Obama ever let himself be seen to be personally involved in anything, apart from the killing of Bin Laden? And, even then, only when it was all safely over and a clear success.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

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