By Dave Lindorff
Those of us who have been saying that the US has become a weak, or at least more ordinary power among many in the world because of its military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and because of its economic decline, will have to recalibrate our analysis after watching the pathetic behavior of the leaders of Russia, Germany and France under pressure from the Obama administration not to allow Edward Snowden to gain asylum in those countries or even to escape his purgatory in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.
Last night, in an astonishing display of fawning obedience to the demands of US leaders, France and Germany first announced that they would not grant asylum to Snowden, despite broad popular support by French and German people for such an offer of aid to the embattled whistleblower. Then, France and Portugal abruptly refused to allow a Bolivian aircraft carrying the country's president, Evo Morales, from a state visit with Russia's Vladimir Putin, to land for refueling in their countries, saying that they were concerned he might be flying Snowden to asylum in Bolivia.
Although Spain said eventually it would allow the Morales plane to refuel in the Canary Islands, it did not have enough fuel to get there and had to be diverted to Vienna, where, astonishingly, it was then searched like a drug-smuggling flight over Bolivian protests. Snowden was not aboard. A furious Morales immediately blamed the US Department of State for the whole incident -- a charge that no one has disputed, though of course the US is refusing to comment.
Aircraft carrying national leaders have absolute diplomatic immunity under international law and moreover, Bolivia would have the absolute right to grant Snowden amnesty, and to bring him to its territory, whether or not he had a valid passport. As the leader of a sovereign nation, Morales has every right to carry anyone he wants on his plane with him back to his country.
That France, Portugal and Austria would so violate such basic diplomatic rules suggests that the US (which of course has long demonstrated that it views diplomatic rules and international law as applying only to others, but not itself) has some powerful leverage to exert behind the scenes. The more so because this whole incident makes leaders like French President Francois Hollande, who only the day before had suggested his country might consider Snowden's asylum appeal, look foolish, and because this aggressive and hostile action taken against the leader of a sovereign nation makes France, as well as Portugal and Italy, look pathetic and ridiculous at a time that public sentiment across Europe is solidly in support of Snowden. (An activist friend in Germany reports that sentiment there in support of Snowden and even of granting him asylum is "probably at about 80%," and that is probably also true in France.)...
For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent three-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1847