Streetwise Professor

July 16, 2013

товарищ Snowden or Señor Snowden? Time to Call Some Bluffs

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 12:07 pm

Today Snowden officially applied for temporary asylum in Russia.  Given that the process takes months, can be renewed, and Snowden can leave the airport and travel in Russia while the application is pending, the operating assumption should be that he has de facto asylum in the Russian Federation, with Putin’s blessing.

This immediately raises the question: is it better for US interests for Snowden to have asylum in Russia, and reside there, or have asylum in and reside in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, or Nicaragua?

I think the answer is blindingly obvious: Far better Señor Snowden than господин Snowden (or, perhaps more accurately, товарищ Snowden).  The longer he is in Russian hands, the more information they can squeeze from him.  We have less ability to squeeze Russia, and Russia is geopolitically important whereas the Latin American countries are far less so, meaning that a standoff with them is less costly to the US than a standoff with Russia.

So the US should call several bluffs, simultaneously, by indicating that it will take no measures to interfere with Snowden’s travel to Venezuela, etc.

This would call Putin’s bluff.  He has claimed that he wants Snowden out, but that the US has imposed a blockade on his movements.  So Putin either comes off a liar (most likely outcome) or says hasta la vista, señor!  If Putin concocts some excuse to keep Snowden in Russia, we can respond accordingly.

This would call the bluffs of Venezuela, etc.  Easy to offer asylum when you think he can’t take it: not quite so easy when he might.

And it would call Snowden’s bluff.  He will be free to go to the Venezuelan or Bolivan or Ecuadoran or Nicaraguan embassies, or all of the above, and request asylum and obtain travel documents. Whether he does so will tell us whether  he the Russians’ prisoner, or their collaborator.

Everyone is supposedly hot to trot.  Snowden says he wants out of Russia.  Russia says it wants Snowden out.  The Latin Americans say they’re tickled to have him.  So this should all be resolved very quickly-if everyone is telling the truth, and not bluffing.  If it isn’t resolved quickly, we’ll have a far better idea of who is bluffing and what they are hiding, and we can act accordingly.

We can’t be worse off playing this strategy than by standing pat and maintaining the blockade, if one exists.  Snowden in Russia indefinitely is the worst outcome for the US.  If we say we’re standing back and not impeding Snowden’s travel, we can obtain information about the preferences and strategies of Putin, the Venezuelans, Snowden, etc.; put Putin in a more complicated situation; potentially deny information to the Russians; and increase the odds that we eventually apprehend him.

One last thing.  Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena (whom I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw the Kursk), supposedly gave Snowden a copy of a Russian book of ABCs.  Word of advice Eddie: beware the false friends.

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  1. I keep thinking back on Hillary and her “reset” button. Not a lot of talk about that any more.

    Comment by Charles — July 16, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

  2. @Charles. Embarrassments are usually not mentioned in polite, or political, company.

    This administration has the Memory Hole thing down pat.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 16, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

  3. […] Professor has some good strategic thinking as to next moves re: […]

    Pingback by Reaction catchup | Rhymes With Cars & Girls — July 17, 2013 @ 7:15 am

  4. Ha-ha – Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena (whom I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw the Kursk) – ” Few minutes later he was stopped by traffic police. Kucherena yelled to the officers “Do you know who I am? Well, I can really make you hell! All of you will get the sack! “. He phoned chief of Moscow region traffic police General Sergeyev . Police officers were given hard time for detaining Kucherena after he had shown them special deputy card entitling its owner to avoid inspection.
    Life News has got a document stating that Kucherena produced the card which can only be used by intelligence officers. Meanwhile, another people fell prey of the scandal. Apart from traffic policemen who dared to stop “Kucherena the Great”, their commanders suffered, too. ”

    Source: Life.Ru, 11 October 2010; 12 October 2010

    Comment by Anders — July 17, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

  5. @anders-To me Kucherena appears like an official oppositionist, an FSB front man. He is, in mafia terms, a made man. I am sure he is, at the very least, an FSB source, and most likely, an FSB operative.

    The Trust comes to mind.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 17, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

  6. Wow, the Trust – It is amazing that Dzershinski’s playbook still hold true and is in current use. It shows the complete lack of imagination of the liberals and professional (or in the case of this administration, the amateur) pundits and FP experts that they can be taken in by the same old cr*p even today.

    What is old is new again, to those who know no history.

    Comment by Sotos — July 17, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  7. @Sotos-Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    With this lot, reprising Felix’s playbook is like taking candy from babies.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 17, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

  8. I don’t think anyone is being taken in by Kucherena’s trick. On the night of his meeting with Snowden he gave a long interview on Dozhd, where the interviewers repeatedly asked him how is it possible that he was allowed to meet Snowden without any coordination with the special services, to whom he answered with credulous denials. It was completely transparent. Also, he was adamant that Snowden is in danger of the death penalty if he is returned to the US, despite repeated attempts of the journalists to correct him.

    Comment by aaa — July 18, 2013 @ 12:14 am

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