Streetwise Professor

July 2, 2013

Mr. Snowden, Please Pick Up the White Courtesy Cluephone in Terminal 7

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:14 pm

A Bolivian government plane carrying president Ivo Morales was diverted to Vienna on its flight from Moscow because it was believed that Snowden could be aboard. (There is some chatter saying the plane landed because of a fuel gauge problem, but this seems to be a cover story.  Here’s a map of the flight track.  Nice u-turn. Since the plane would have to refuel anyways before proceeding to La Paz-its range is about 4500nm and the distance Moscow-La Paz is about 7000nm-a glitchy gauge wouldn’t have necessitated such a reversal.)  France and Portugal supposedly denied the plane overflight rights.

I wonder if Snowden has crossed France and Portugal off his list.  So far: Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Brazil, India . . . I could go on.

This is consistent with what I told commenter Charles a couple of days back: any flight-commercial, charter, private, or government-would have to file a flight plan, and any country along the route could deny access to its airspace. The apparent fact that France and Portugal exercised that right against a plane carrying a head of state makes it very plain-no pun intended-that no plane with Snowden aboard is likely to make it far beyond Russia’s borders.

Assignment for the class: design a flight plan between Moscow and the western hemisphere that does not overfly countries allied with the US, or likely to want to avoid taking Snowden’s side over that of the US.

Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

So will Eddie.

So here’s the cluephone message: Eddie, you have three choices: 1) live the real-life version of The Terminal, with screenplay adapted by Dostoevsky, and no Catherine Zeta-Jones, 2) give yourself up and return to the US, and 3) um, sorry, there’s no third choice: just effing with you, like the Russians are doing now.

Nobody wants to take you, either on principle, or because they don’t want to incur the wrath of the US.  Even if someone wants to take you, there’s no way of getting there.

Maybe I exaggerate.  You could fly to Pyongyang or Tehran.


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  1. Such a plane could fly from Moscow to eastern Russia, and dip down the Pacific to south America. I think.

    Comment by hamlet1 — July 2, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

  2. Actually, he could fly to Tehran directly from Russian via the Caspian.
    Two days ago Ahamdenijad also was in Moscow. I wonder what that was about. He gave an interview to RT. I have not watched.
    So, so far Ecuador & Iran … what other pilgrims are there?
    And, again, Ecuador, Iran & Russia… What was that about telling me who your friends are?

    Comment by MJ — July 2, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

  3. And of course Bolivia…

    Comment by MJ — July 2, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  4. Moscow – Vladivostok – Quito. Although Snowden’s best bet is to remain in Russia.

    Amusing to see the spittle-flecked rage against Western (how dare they!) dissidents, as always. One can also only imagine the histrionics here if ever Air Force One was to be diverted and grounded by a foreign country pursuing some petty political vendetta.

    Comment by S/O — July 2, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

  5. What is the point of this post?

    Comment by NK — July 3, 2013 @ 3:59 am

  6. S/O: One can only imagine the possibility that the world might believe the POTUS would harbor an international fugitive on his airplane, in violation of international law. One can only imagine, because in reality the world would never believe that. The “president” of Bolivia, however, makes it rather easy to believe he might do something of the kind.

    And while you’re imagining, why don’t you try to imagine the “histrionics” in Russia if Doku Umarov, who just confirmed the Sochi Olympics are under threat, was openly offered sanctuary in the USA while at JFK if he would promise to give up his killing ways.

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 3, 2013 @ 5:20 am

  7. Ah, sublime blue boy, there is a difference. But then again, you are living in Berkley, once again, if Russia is so great why are you not living there?

    Comment by Andrew — July 3, 2013 @ 5:30 am

  8. Because Karlin, like so many goonish “Russophiles”, doesn’t actually want to live in Russia, because he knows what a decaying shithole it is and that it will only get worse.

    In the latest news on Russia’s self-destruction: Военный комиссар: «Я получал инструктаж – не брать Северный Кавказ и москвичей»

    Открытое неповиновение приказам командиров, навязывание национальных обычаев, противоречащих уставу, отказ от обследования в ПНД и от прохождения хирурга. Солдаты отказываются бриться, потому что считают себя истинными мусульманами. Вдобавок к этому, большинство молодежи (Прим. ред.: с Кавказа) подвержено идеям ваххабизма, – обрисовал ситуацию с призывниками начальник отдела военного комиссариата ХМАО-Югры по городу Радужному Сергей Россомахин.

    Moscow is so scared of the all the increasingly Islamist conscripts coming in from the exploding populations of the North Caucasus (Chechnya’s population will increase by 50% by 2050, Dagestan by 25%) that they are again trying to end their conscription.

    I propose a Streetwise Professor office pool: How much longer until Russian power in the N. Caucasus completely collapses and Chechnya and Dagestan are given independence? 10 decades? 20?

    Comment by lulz — July 3, 2013 @ 10:33 am

  9. What if Eddie offers to return to the US on the condition he gets a fair and public trial? Wouldn’t that put Obama in an uncomfortable position? His best choice at this point is to return to the US court system (not Tehran or Pyongyang), and refuse publicly to reveal any secrets to American’s enemies. Very arguably he has not divulged any secrets which put America at risk, and clearly not espionage. EDDIE- take door number 2!

    Comment by scott — July 3, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

  10. Hamlet,

    Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka to Quiito or Guayaquil is more that 6600nm, great circle routing, much of which passes thru Alaska, Canada and the western US before entering Mexico. I believe all if these countries are, shall we say, hostile to Mr. Snowden. To do the leg overwater, would still pass near Hawaii, and require better than 7400 nm range, far in excess of anything Russian or on th Ecuador registry.

    The Pilot

    Comment by The Pilot — July 3, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

  11. @S/O. Don’t think I didn’t miss the “dissident” BS. Repeating the party line again, eh? (Putin made a similar comparison Monday.) Yeah. Snowden, Sakharov. Easy to get them confused.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 3, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

  12. @lulz-10 or 20 decades? 10 or 20 years, tops.

    @scott-door number 2 is Eddie’s best shot right now. To see that, though, he has to shake himself loose of the Wikileaks gang, Greenwald, Poitras, etc., which hardly have his best interests at heart.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 3, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

  13. yeah i meant years. especially with the recent announcement by the Emirate that Sochi is a target.

    Comment by lulz — July 4, 2013 @ 1:17 am

  14. So the rule of law-worshiping Professor has no problem with stopping and searching the Presidential airplane of a sovereign nation that is protected by well-established international diplomatic conventions.

    Not surprising, really, but taken note of nonetheless.

    PS. I hadn’t even registered that Putin had made the Sakharov comparison until now. Considering that his rather more pertinent statement on the matter was about allowing Snowden to stay only on condition that he stopped “hurting our US partners.”

    Comment by S/O — July 4, 2013 @ 4:53 am

  15. hey sublime, you sure are right about how Russia’s demographics are changing! And the number of deaths by AIDS last year jumped 20% of 2011.

    Russia has experienced the fastest-spreading HIV/AIDS epidemics in any one country in history, but there remains a lack of effective preventative measures to slow it down—in large measure because the people most affected are also the country’s most reviled.

    In a country of 143 million people, roughly one million are HIV-positive. That means Russia has one of the highest percentages of HIV-infected people in the world outside sub-Saharan Africa. Robert Heimer, an epidemiologist at Yale who has spent years studying the intersection of drug use in Russia and its HIV/AIDS epidemic, says as many as five percent of all young people are infected. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, also known UNAIDS, reports that 1.8 million Russians are current injection drug users.

    Comment by lulz — July 4, 2013 @ 6:36 am

  16. c’mon Karlin, we miss your posts full of cherry-picked data about how great Russia’s demographics are! I agree with you too, if by Russia you mean Chechnya and Dagestan, their birth rates are through the roof!

    Comment by lulz — July 4, 2013 @ 6:37 am

  17. @S/O Sounding very Mr. X-sh there. Not surprised.

    Re not registering. That would mean that your mind runs in the same channels as Putin’s. Not sure which would be worse: that your invocation of a totally outrageous comparison is a derivative/imitative echoing of Putinist propaganda, or is original.

    Re Morales’s plane. 1. This is permitted under international law: nations have the right to deny overflight of the official aircraft of other governments. You are clearly wrong about diplomatic convention here. So it’s not a rule of law issue. There you go. 2. Evo thought he would tweak the United States by joking in Moscow that he would take Snowden with him. This is serious business, and not beanbag. If you’re gonna pull that shit, don’t whine when the shit gets shoved right back at you. Live and learn. 3. I have a very strong suspicion that Russia used the Morales “joke” to its advantage. Specifically, it informed the US, or the countries that Morales was supposed to overfly, or all of the above, that Snowden was on the plane, thereby precipitating the incident. This gave Russia an opportunity to express its outrage and play to the excitable types in South America. It might also be calculating that Morales will respond to the humiliation by escalating his confrontation with the US, and giving Snowden asylum, thereby ridding Putin of this headache.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 4, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

  18. @ S/O: having done a lot of international military airlift, there is a simple word for when an airplane or warship enters the territorial land mass or waters of another country invited: invasion. More to the point, while Austria was within its rights to deny overflight, searching the airplane without the permission of the “sending state” might be over the edge. US guidance was that state aircraft or ships could not be searched UNLESS the crew were physically disembarking and then only the crew could be detained and searched. Perhaps, Evo and the boys aren’t so smart on diplomatic rules. Austria has always been quite strict in maintaining its neutrality during the Cold War–I slipped across there by minutes during Desert Storm. The Austrian controller cheering us on but clear a crossing after midnite would be a violation and followed up thru diplomatic channels.

    Comment by The Pilot — July 4, 2013 @ 7:47 pm

  19. @The Pilot. Apparently Morales assented to a search. If he hadn’t it probably would have turned into a waiting game.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 4, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

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