Edward Snowden can be a libertarian hero, particularly in the US, while also being completely used and abused by the Russians for their own purposes.
In fact, there’s a good chance that is what is happening. As the New York Times reports:
Andrei Soldatov, a journalist who has written extensively about the security services, said that the F.S.B., the domestic successor to the Soviet-era intelligence service, clearly controlled the circumstances of Mr. Snowden’s life now, protecting him and also circumscribing his activities, even if not directly controlling him.
And so, can we conclude that the FSB has allowed the meeting between Snowden and German Green Party lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele?
Bloomberg reports Stroebele met Edward Snowden in Moscow this week “to discuss the possibility of the US fugitive testifying in Germany as new revelations of spying by the National Security Agency strained relations between the two countries.”
Mr Stroebele travelled with two German reporters for the three-hour meeting, in which he proposed the possibility of safe passage to Berlin as well as the possibility of Snowden testifying in Moscow, broadcaster ARD reported.
“He clearly indicated that he knows very much, and that he’s prepared to travel to Germany to testify as long as the NSA and its head, Keith Alexander, block clarification,” Mr Stroebele said on ARD television. “But the circumstances must be resolved.”
The same article notes the lack of progress between Germany and the US.
Already you can see the tone turning changing between the two allies.
The situation has the potential to create wider division between Germany and the US. Imagine the diplomatic impasse of Snowden in Germany. There would be tensions between a Germany that, in a somewhat childlike way, wants answers on spying, and the US, which still has bases in Germany and provides for its protection, wanting its accused NSA-leaker back.
And who does this kind of fracas benefit? Russia. Driving a wedge between Germany and Russia would relieve some of the natural tension for a country whose human losses during (and after) WWII are almost impossible for the Western mind to grasp.
But Russia, which craves events and symbols to show that it’s not in decline, is still not the strategic threat for the US that the USSR was.
For the US the chief competition today remains China, which will become a greater strategic threat to the US as the two countries grow less dependent on each other.
That doesn’t just mean China throwing off the yoke of US consumption and debt purchasing. The US is re-gearing so not to rely on China in strategic areas, too.