Our skewed world


Now that Edward Snowden has temporary asylum in Russia, he has the freedom to travel anywhere in that country and work. Apparently, he may already have a job offer.

Late Thursday, the founder of Russia’s Facebook-like social network site VKontakte, made what sounded like a job offer.

“We will be happy if he decides to supplement the team of star programmers at VKontakte,” Durov wrote on his page.

Meanwhile, the usual crowd of grandstanding US politicians are howling for retaliation against Russia for this flagrant act of lese-majeste by Russia. This is going to box in Obama and he has not helped himself by suggesting that he might not go to the G20 summit in St. Petersburg next month or the subsequent one-on-one summit meeting in Moscow with the Russian president. Now if he goes, he will look weak and if he doesn’t go, he will look stupid.

Journalist Amy Goodman sums up the peculiar state of affairs where major war criminals and white collar criminals walk free while those who expose them at great personal risk are hounded and put in prison for long sentences.

“What a dangerous edifice war is, how easily it may fall to pieces and bury us in its ruins,” wrote Carl von Clausewitz, the 19th-century Prussian general and military theorist, in his seminal text “On War”, close to 200 years ago. These lines came from the chapter “Information in War”, a topic that resonates today, from Fort Meade, Maryland, where Bradley Manning has just been convicted of espionage in a military court, to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lived for more than a year, having been granted political asylum to avoid political persecution by the United States, to Russia, where National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary aslyum.

Manning took incredibly courageous actions to release data, to pierce the fog of war, to make public the machinations of modern American war-making. Edward Snowden has exposed the sophistication and extraordinary reach of the US surveillance state, cracking down on those who would dare to release information. And Julian Assange sits within the four walls of his embassy redoubt, persecuted for the crime of publishing. Yet those who planned the wars, those who committed war crimes, those who conduct illegal spying, for now, walk free.

That is the world we now live in.

Comments

  1. lorn says

    I suspect that the majority of this administration, and likely Obama, don’t really care much about capturing and prosecuting Snowden. Quite possibly they are pretty happy about what he did.

    The issue is that starting with the failed hostage rescue under Carter, a failure which didn’t have much to do with him, but which happened on his watch, the US has invested very heavily in special operation, its tight integration with intense and pervasive intelligence gathering, and ever increasing independence for the structure. This trend was put on steroids when Reagan pushed for a much more independent military structure, what would become the Special Operations Command (SOC). While still under nominal executive authority these groups have unprecedented unitary functionality, they can do a whole lot without depending on other commands, and have, by default, a lot of independence in selecting missions and deciding how they will be accomplished. These commands typically have their own intelligence gathering/analysis, air support, transport, and logistics.

    A lot of the ‘regular’ military is both jealous of and worried about any military command having that much independence. They are much more comfortable with intelligence gathering, foreign policy, and command being held at arms length. The idea that field officers are allowed/ forced to make decisions, on the fly and with limited training and support, in all those areas, in effect letting low-level players play trillion dollar games with international relation is daunting. The autonomy and independence allows short decision cycles and rapid response but it also might end up with a single independent command determining when, where, and with who we go to war. One big mistake, or willful action, could end up with in a war which nobody wanted but nobody, because of national pride and standing, can avoid.

    This sort of autonomy is also one of the defining qualities of a militarized state where the military has a major influence on politics.

    Believers in tight civilian control over a non-political military are necessarily wary of this sort of independence.
    Snowden’s revelations may end up with intelligence being increasingly separated from the military, SOC having less autonomy, the military getting something less than the previously typical blank check, the reassertion of civilian authority.

    Even as this administration has to go through the motions of being outraged at the revelations and Snowden’s flight to Russia I suspect that they are fairly pleased.

  2. says

    Assange is being sought for prosecution for the crime of rape, not publishing.

    Even as this administration has to go through the motions of being outraged at the revelations and Snowden’s flight to Russia I suspect that they are fairly pleased.

    I hope so, but I don’t see the evidence for it.

  3. henry_pet says

    Not true. Assange has not been charged with rape or with any other crime. He is wanted, officially, for questioning, and charges might or might not result. Sweden has refused Assange’s offers to be questioned remotely, or by Swedish officials in England or now at the Ecuadorean embassy, or even in Sweden, with assurances that he won’t be turned over to the U.S. Given the U.S. administration’s caterwauling after Snowden and their nonstop attempts to demonize Assange and Wikileaks, I think Assange’s concerns about being turned over to the U.S. on a pretext are pretty strong.

    As a comment to lorn – if folks in the Obama administration are somehow happy about what Snowden did (because this will let them rein in the military), they have a strange way of showing it.

  4. sailor1031 says

    My doG, the petulant whining when America doesn’t get its way is just like some spoiled, over-privileged child whose tyrannical will is being thwarted by a cruel world. Now Schumer and Graham have joined the chorus. I hope they both hold their breath until they turn blue and then scream and scream until they’re sick – (with a nod to Violet Elizabeth Bott).

  5. says

    Not true. Assange has not been charged with rape or with any other crime. He is wanted, officially, for questioning, and charges might or might not result. Sweden has refused Assange’s offers to be questioned remotely, or by Swedish officials in England or now at the Ecuadorean embassy, or even in Sweden, with assurances that he won’t be turned over to the U.S. Given the U.S. administration’s caterwauling after Snowden and their nonstop attempts to demonize Assange and Wikileaks, I think Assange’s concerns about being turned over to the U.S. on a pretext are pretty strong.

    Every single part of this is bullshit, except for the part where Sweden hasn’t guaranteed against extradition (Because it can’t under EU law). Stop parroting stupid bullshit myths that exist to protect a rapist.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/david-allen-green/2012/08/legal-myths-about-assange-extradition

    The stage he’s wanted for questioning at is not some minor detail in swedish law – it’s a necessary step to an indictment. Trying to say they ‘just want him for questioning’ ignores that.

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