Friday, August 09, 2013

Shall We Dance?

(Editorial cartoon by Kevin Siers and published 8/6/13 by the Charlotte Observer and featured at McClatchy DC.)

President Obama has cancelled his up-coming meeting with Vladimir Putin over Russia's granting of asylum to intrepid leaker Edward Snowden.  Does this mean we are at the start of a new Cold War?  Not hardly, according to the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times.

 If President Obama's decision to cancel a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled a refusal to engage with Russia on matters of mutual interest, we'd be concerned. Although Russia lacks the superpower status of the now-defunct Soviet Union, it retains a veto on the U.N. Security Council and could still play a constructive role in resolving the civil war in Syria. The two countries also have unresolved bilateral issues, including further reductions in nuclear stockpiles and Russian objections to the deployment of a NATO anti-missile system in Poland and Romania. 

Because it doesn't end other contacts between the U.S. and Russia, cynics will say that Obama's decision to cancel the summit is political Kabuki theater and that it won't change any minds in Moscow. Perhaps not, but the president is entitled to register his objections to Russian conduct by actions as well as words. And this action speaks louder than anything Obama might have said to Putin at a ceremonial summit meeting.   [Emphasis added]

I agree with the editorial writer to the extent that this is simply an act of symbolism, theater, if you will.  But the intended audience is not Putin or the Russian people.  Rather, the intended audience is actually the American people and its Congress.  The president has chosen to demonize Snowden further so he doesn't have to deal with the real issue:  domestic spying.

No surprise there.

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