‘Inadvertently.’ How droll. How abso-[expletive deleted]-lute-ly droll.
Let me set the scene: Russia – which has comfortably settled back into the patterns of bureaucratic autocracy that has more or less been its operating methodology for a millennium – has a problem. It’s that pesky Internet, which was created by those pesky Americans, and our pesky stubborn insistence that people have rights and needs that trumps the State’s. Worse, an American’s instinctive response to foreigners insisting the we shut up on the Internet traditionally involves a bodily function, a rope and directions on how do the former upon the latter. You can do that, when all the servers are on your soil. Sooo…
For Russian President Vladimir Putin, this was intolerable. In his mind the solution was simple: force the platforms — Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple among them — to locate their servers on Russian soil so Russian authorities could control them.
The challenge was how to do it.
And the solution? Ed Snowden. That plucky little… bastion of whistle-blowing. He shows up in Russia, plays the asylum game, starts up the anti-America agitprop – and, voila! Vladimir Putin has all the excuse that he needs to take over the Russian corner of the Internet, in the guise of ‘cyber-security.’ And so, if you are a Russian using Facebook, Google, and/or Twitter then the FSB now officially has access to your data.
The least-bad news in all of this is that it likely won’t end in mass arrests and internal exiles, which is admittedly a step up in the way Russia normally does this sort of thing. I forget who it was who noted this, but Putin’s great insight in the field of autocracy is that modern repressive States don’t actually need to do the entire Stasi/KGB/Gestapo thing. If the people grumble, let them grumble. Let them even grumble in public, to each other, and let it go (and, certainly, don’t bring back the system of informants). Just as long as your dissidents never get to publish anything on any medium except the ones that you control yourself. Do that, and you’re well on your way to dying in your bed of old age (which is the Brass Ring for autocrats). And getting Russian-used servers out of free parts of the world, and putting them firmly under Russian thumbs, will work out rather nicely for Vladimir Putin in that regard.
Now, if anybody wants to believe that Ed Snowden hadn’t figured this out from the start, go ahead. I have no interest in giving this guy the benefit of the doubt – or anything else except his day in court for treason charges – but go ahead. But I’m sure that all reasonable people would agree that Snowden’s figured out by now just what his role is in Putin’s Russia. And yet, he stays there.
Yes, I know that Ed Snowden would be arrested and extradited if he leaves Russia. So what? My own unsentimental Cold War reflexes to the side, it’s not likely that we’re actually going to hang the guy; and every day that Snowden materially aids Putin by his mere presence is another day where over a hundred and forty two million people lose just a little more freedom than they had the day before. And it’s a type of freedom that Ed Snowden supposedly likes.
Well, he’s not the first person who was ready to have others suffer for his beliefs…
Via Hot Air Headlines.
Moe Lane (crosspost)