On To 8.08.13 we learned from Hbl that “USA:s president Barack Obama har inhiberat sitt möte med Rysslands president Vladimir Putin”, and the text with the article’s picture added the as-if explanation “efter att Ryssland gett Edward Snowden asyl”. Other articles and comments in the media were listing also a number of other disagreements between the USA and Russia, but the timing of Obama’s refusal does in fact strongly suggest that the granting of asylum to Snowden was one of the main reasons.
How do we like this? At the Nuremberg trials after World War II the USA were of the opinion that when committing crimes it is no excuse that one is “only following orders”. Of course there is a difference between refusing to follow orders when ordered to commit crimes (while then letting others commit those crimes) and, instead, commit a (different) crime in order to prevent further crimes from being committed in the future. And for us, who claim to live in a democratic society (where access to information is one of the essential principles – after all, if the citizens are supposed to decide about the politics of the country they will also need valid information on the basis of which to make their decisions), it will appear at least as a mitigating factor if a crime (such as leaking secret information to the public) was committed in order to prevent further crimes. With the consequence that we will be inclined to consider such leaking, if the leaked information points to serious wrongdoing by, e.g., state agencies, as a not very serious crime.
US authorities, though, seem to see that different. From the Vietnam war we remember the case of My Lai, where a Vietnamese village was wiped out by US troops in a shooting frenzy; the matter became public, the commanding lieutenant Calley was sentenced to a long term in prison; but then the sentence was changed to house arrest, and soon after Calley was pardoned altogether, and the only participant who got serious trouble from the affair was the one US soldier who had tried to hinder the shooting. Thus, punished are those who do not blindly follow orders (or even go public with information about however serious misconduct – Bradley Manning is generally expected to spend the rest of his life in prison …). It seems, that the principles which were preached (and applied) at Nuremberg are not really meant to be applied to the doings of US agencies …
What then are the REAL principles of the US system? I feel seriously reminded of the Omerta, which is the basic principle of the mafia and similar organizations: “Whoever talks will die (already as a warning to others)”. Up to now the USA are wise enough not to kill people to whom the public is paying attention (such would create martyrs), but the expected sentence for Bradley Manning and the political pressure applied to hinder other countries from giving asylum to Snowden make it very clear that the USA are prepared for very serious action to keep US misconduct secret. And Barack Obama, to whom the world once gave the Nobel Peace Prize, is fully complying with these mafioso standards.
Should we accuse him of this, or should we rather pity him for being forced to comply with demands which are pressed on him by his services and also the Republican (at least) media? Well, if he is so pressed, then we should at least expect some steps from his side to change a system which makes him a puppet. But up to now such steps have not become known, i.e. he seems to be a not-protesting puppet (or, of course, a would-be mafia boss). Which makes him ridiculous.
Of course he is not the only ridiculous player in this. Sweden’s Reinfeldt has not expressed any reservations about being visited by Obama, and Finland’s government seems to be eagerly waiting for an invitation to join. Must be quite an honour to shake hands with somebody like Obama. And of course one should always use an occasion to demonstrate one’s anti-Russian preferences. Shouldn’t one?