Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snowden and Brazil

Edward Snowden apparently is still looking to Latin America and there is plenty of parsing his open letter to Brazil. He's careful not to make a formal request, which would box Brazil in and possibly make it even less willing. But he says:

Many Brazilian senators agree, and have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens.

I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so -- going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America!

Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.

I read that as a quid pro quo.

Dilma Rousseff would have to decide that a long-term break with the United States is desirable. Whoever takes Snowden cannot have good diplomatic relations, period. Therefore we would expect a government to do so only if it saw long-term gain in antagonizing the U.S. It's hard to see that in Brazil.

Of course, the U.S. will be sending private signals not to accept, but let's see if it does anything public. Screwing around with planes helped lead to Nicolás Maduro's asylum offer, which originally was not forthcoming.

Isn't it interesting, too, that Snowden wants Brazil, which has not said yes, instead of Venezuela, which already has? Venezuela is just not a stable enough place these days.


Anonymous,  9:38 PM  

I don't see Brazil having such a great interest in Snowden. It is or isn't in their interest. The price is either worth paying or not. They will figure this out in due time. I bet against it.

The main use of Snowden is rhetorical and concerns domestic politics. A Snowden asylum offer brandishes the nationalist credibility of a left-wing government that appears awfully cozy with international banks and monetary organizations. Does having him present really change anything when he is publishing the stuff in the newspapers? I think it unlikely that Snowden would supply Brazil any great treasure trove about U.S. intelligence.

The US might huff and puff, but what would we really do if Brazil offered him asylum? Germany? There would be a chilling but not a break. Allies like Brazil are too important to the U.S. and world economy. The U.S. is both unable and unwilling to try and punish Brazil.

csccat 10:08 AM  

Advice to future leakers... have your asylum set up before you leak or you may be stuck someplace where you don't want to be.

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