They say a watched pot never boils, but I can’t take my eyes off this pot of scandals and crises and still the evil brew is boiling away like mad. Our diplomacy stumbles along haplessly, the latest mano a mano coming with Ecuador, now the focus of all attention as it mulls over (wink wink, nudge nudge) Edward Snowden’s extradition request. Not having learned a thing in the past century and a half, the USG continues to step on as many Latin American toes as possible in an effort to bring the unruly hotheads to heel. Today our official spokesmen strive to flay the nerves of the already seething Rafael Correa by apparently floating vague threats of retaliation and grave damage, the latter being one of the scariest warnings you can mete out in the diplomatic world. Correa checked us in this latest and worst of spats, having his government announce that it was voluntarily and forever rejecting some paltry millions in US assistance. In fact US aid had already shrunken to next to nothing, which means suspending it was never a serious lever for American officials. In any case Correa foresaw our limited options and pulled the rug out from under us. Then he poured salt in Obama’s wounds by offering the US 24 million dollars for human rights education. Zing.
Latin American countries, many of them, have a left-wing diplomatic establishment – much like our own. The left loves people yearning to be free, as long as they are fleeing right-wing governments. In Honduras in the 1980s, the locals sneered at the Mexican Embassy as a revolving door because so many aspiring revolutionaries and criminals had taken refuge there and then left for Mexico. Granting asylum to anybody causing the US government headaches is like getting a million bonus points in some arcade game. It was predictable that one of our left-wing foes in the region would step forward to welcome Snowden. This stand-off gives Correa rock-star status. He looks like the strongman, and our vain moppet looks like…a vain moppet.
We are still expostulating over the treachery of China and Russia. Only ultra-utopians would ever have expected a different reaction from either. It wasn’t like Snowden held up a 7-11 or exposed himself to young boys. He revealed a scale of USG spying around the world that will set the model for years to come for aspiring police states. He did it because he was shocked by the Constitutional abuses going on. And it has now been confirmed that he turned around on the matter of spying after seeing the scope of what was happening. That makes him a political dissident and an absolutely natural candidate for asylum. The US is not going to win this argument, and no human rights organization will support the US position.
In the old days, we didn’t whine when one of our spies ended up in the USSR or China. It happened and there wasn’t much to be done about it, so our government zipped its lip and got on with things. Only today is our government asserting some supra-legal right to extradition of the violator of official secrets. It is novel for the demanding nation to claim that their interpretation of the crimes committed outweighs the considerations of the asylum-granting nation. Unfortunately for our spymasters, this is one of those rare occasions when they can’t claim that national security trumps everything else. The American public, both left and right, reject that postulate. Our intelligence and law enforcement bodies were in gross violation of our rights. That changes everything. Suddenly Snowden, regardless of his philosophical bent, is not a traitor but a hero. Our government will demonize him, they will twist the facts and insinuate and never prove. Instead of the articulate and thoughtful man he seems to be in his comments about current events, he is depicted as a “drop-out” (stupid) and callow and self-serving. (Carl Bernstein is also a high-school dropout.) They won’t even provide us a record of the orders to wiretap us all, because they “don’t have to.” Like Obama’s whine that he shouldn’t have to, it is inadequate as an explanation.
On to the IRS, that nest of vipers. I just saw a new ad put out by the IRS telling people to go to them if they have problems with back taxes. Relax, America, it’s just us, your friendly revenue agents. We’re helpful. We’re not out to get you. Such propaganda is supposed to blind you to the latest IRS agent taking the Fifth, this one when asked about getting a pal millions in an IRS contract. I believe there is a petition making the rounds asking people to sign in favor of taking down the IRS, every last brick of its administrative being. If there isn’t, there should be. Enough. This latest boil on the face of the Obama regime is too ugly to contemplate for long.
Poor Joe Manchin, who seems a likeable fellow in spite of his political affiliation, is fighting for his political life with a knife stuck squarely between his shoulders by his own Party and President. Putting coal out of business is hard, but it’s a sacrifice for the greater good, they tell him. But they lack the courage to go tell the dispossessed workers to their faces that they’re some sort of heroes. That’s one photo op our Beloved President doesn’t have time for, especially since he is out for the ultimate photo op, him kneeling and holding Nelson Mandela’s withered hand, leaning forward to hear those last words, the man’s family shoved to the periphery. (“Well of course we would love to meet with Mandela, but if he’s really sick….” How crass.) Our autocratic, demagoguing government is acting with as much abandon these days as Stalin displayed in his massive industrialization scheme in the Soviet Union. But to be fair, these Eco-Marxists told us right out that they were going to destroy coal. Hey, Joe, did you think they were kidding? For such martinets of righteousness, it doesn’t matter what the people want, because the Party is the People and so is Obama. If they want it, you want it. Our illegal government apparatus is acting without regard to the Constitution, ignoring Congress and issuing reams of edicts with the force of law. Kathleen Sibelius should be wearing prison stripes for her crimes against Americans and so should the whole panoply of trolls toiling in the bowels of the EPA.
Last subject: Syria. I was the Nicaragua Desk Officer during the later contra war years. I remember the CIA handling of the war, a real one, against the dictator Ortega (yes, the same one recently re-elected in violation of their Constitution). They did a lousy job. They excel at short-term defined operations, but they fail when their scope of responsibility expands to a whole war. Not surprisingly, they try to over-control (that’s what they do, after all) and the whole thing starts to shrink or fall apart, not grow. I predict similar results in Syria. All we have done by unrolling a new interventionist program of arming the jihad-controlled opposition is jack up the toll in human blood. What is going on there is part of the seeds of the past and it is largely a domestic quarrel between two sects. Any cop will tell you, the most dangerous place to tread is a domestic spat, it’s where you’re most likely to meet your Maker. Notice that Russia is pulling out everybody (or everybody visible); they will continue to rumble from the background, where the projectiles don’t reach. I’ve been predicting for some time in my columns that when the time was ripe, Obama would turn to Syria as a way to distract from his political woes. I wish sincerely I had been wrong.