Good Cop badcop act of Putin and Medvedev

Vladimir Putin left office in  May 2008 succeeded as President of Russia by Dimitry  Medvedev. At first it was  assumed that Medvedev was a place holder for  Putin and would follow his policies   of  looking back at the grandeur of the Czars who had a long  history of controlling nations on Russia’s borders , presenting a strong face to the world and exerting Russia’s influence on the world and in particular Western Europe  by energy policies. Putin also limited dissent inside Russia and surrounded himself with fawning oligarchs. Those oligarchs that were critical were stripped of their wealth and either jailed or exiled.  His economy  depended on oil and gas revenue. Russia’s expansionist policies under Putin included the invasion of Georgia and splintering off a part of Georgia.

 Good CoP Medvedev

Good Cop Medvedev


However Medvedev appeared to be more forward looking and  showed signs of engaging the West in a positive way.  President Obama first  had a meeting with Medvedev in London in 2009.

He seemed open to working with the west on Afghanistan, reduction of nuclear weapons stocks in  Russia, the United States and also around the World. This was particularly true in the case of Iran. Russia voted in the U.N. for tough sanctions against Iran for their quest for a nuclear arsenal.

Also Medvedev was cooperative in allowing the NATO Allies to transport supplies and troops over a Northern route through Russia and its former satellite states into Afghanistan.  This gave us an alternative to the route through volatile Pakistan.

Medvedev acknowledged the growing threat from an Iran with nuclear weapons although Russia had substantial trade interests with Iran and were even helping Iran build a nuclear reactor.  Yet despite theses interests he  sided with the West in asserting sanctions  against  not only  Iran but North Korea.

President Medvedev was interested in broadening the Russian economy beyond commodities and  wanted to create a Silicon Valley like technological complex in Russia. To that end he even visited Silicon Valley.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was renegotiated and signed under Medvedev.

However Medvedev “decided” not to run for a second term and Putin was elected as President of Russian for a third term . The election was marred by reports of fraud. Demonstrations followed alleging Putin was a thief who stole the election, which Putin suppressed along with media criticism.

Putin declined to attend a G-8 metering at Los Cabos, Mexico and relations turned cool.

The government suppressed NGO’s , dissidents, LBGT people and  began domineering policies toward it’s neighbors. In 2014  it  invaded and annexed Crimea.  It also fomented a crisis in Ukraine when it wanted to sign a trade treaty with  the European Union.

Putin seems to be looking back to the days of the Soviet empire when Russian exerted power over Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He envisions a union of these states to compete with the European Union. His policies include dissuading neighboring states from joining the European Union or NATO. Though the economic and security benefits would be substantial to these states and even to Russia if it could ever be convinced to join.

However Putin has not curtailed our access to Afghanistan by the Northern Route for which the West pays Russia up to one billion a year nor has it gone back on sanctions for Iran and North Korea.

However it supports the regime in Syria and is adamant against missile sites in Europe for protection against Iran.

What Putin’s next move will be is any one’s guess?  However sanctions imposed by the West for his actions in the Crimea and Ukraine have had a deleterious effect on the Russian economy and now that oil prices have dropped to near $70 dollars a barrel , below the $82 a barrel he needs to service debt and sustain the economy, his options internally and externally are extremely limited. Political unrest in Russia because of oil  prices  may limit Putin’s power or even lead to his ouster in the 2018 election if it is a free one. However at this point he still retains his popularity. It appears as if Putin and Medvedev have a good cop bad cop routine going on. It will be interesting to see if Medvedev succeeds Putin in 2018 0r after.

Hillary has a jaundiced eye towards Putin for good reason. He is trying to resurrect a vision of some past glory and is failing to deal with present conditions. Even the United States came to realize that we need the cooperation of other countries to effectively  and favorably stabilize   economic and political conditions.






What makes Edward Snowden’s case different from Daniel Ellsberg’s case.  They both worked for the U.S. Government in some capacity. Snowden for the NSA by way of Booz, Allen and Hamilton, Ellsberg as  Marine Corps Officer, Rand employee and Pentagon Assistant to Secretary McNamara. Both worked in intelligence, Snowden as a Data Systems Manager, Ellsberg as intelligence analyst at Rand and in the Pentagon.  They both released voluminous amounts of material: Ellsberg the “Pentagon Papers” which  revealed that the government knew that the Viet Nam war could not be won, yet we were drafting men  and sending them  to their deaths or injuries in a lost cause.(See the movie Born On The  Fourth of July about Ron Kovic who was made a  near quadriplegic at age 18 in Viet Nam.)

Snowden revealed the extent of NSA surveillance of innocent people in the United States and abroad for no purpose except to create a huge data base on every one for possible future use such as the PRISM program and much more including  the  copying and storing of personal Yahoo messaging videos for instance by the British.

Ellsberg has a PhD from Harvard, Edward Snowden had a GED and some college credits, both appeared to be methodical in their methods in regard to the type of materials leaked and the purpose of the leak. Ellsworth stood trial but the case was dismissed for government misconduct. The Watergate plumbers burglarized his psychiatrist’s office among other things. The Ellsberg leak was in the 1970’s almost forty years ago.

In the case of Chelsea ( b. Bradley)  Manning she like Snowden had an education limited to a few college courses. She had a troubled family life and after enlistment in the Army at age 19 had a troubled existence in the Army. At her trial witnesses in her behalf said her mother drank during pregnancy and her lawyer proposed that Manning showed evidence of fetal alcohol syndrome. Whatever her personal circumstances she was morally outraged at some of the documents and videos that she was exposed to as an intelligence technician in Iraq. In particular was a now famous Apache helicopter attack on a group of unarmed civilians on an Iraqi street corner. By some unknown conduit she released the video and about 750,000 combat reports and diplomatic cables to Wiki leaks. These were published in the Guardian, The N.Y. Times and other leading newspapers much like Snowden’s and Ellsberg’s leak.

Of the three none was motivated by money or under the control of a foreign power but moved by the callous deception of the public by the U.S. Government in their conduct of a war. Ellsberg the Viet Nam War, Snowden The War On Terrorism, Manning the War on Terrorism and the Iraq War. Manning was convicted and is in an Army Prison sentenced to 35 years but experts say he will not serve the whole sentence. Ellsberg has been an advocate for government transparency since the criminal case against him was dismissed; Snowden has been indicted but is out of reach of the U.S. Government as he is exiled in Moscow where he has the benefit of a lawyer connected to the Russian FSB (Like our CIA). He says he will return if he is guaranteed a jury trial. Attorney General Holder will not negotiate with him. Normally persons who divulge state secrets don’t get an open jury trial but a secret trial before a judge or  a panel.

Ellsberg tried to have Senators release the papers and when this failed he  went public on his own. Snowden was aware of the fate of prior whistle blowers who went through the official procedures. These people usually lost their jobs and were ostracized, some  were even prosecuted. Manning seems to have gone directly to Wiki leaks through an intermediary without seeking other legal means of disclosure. If she did it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. Her leak seems to be more a personal cry for help although triggered by what she saw in the videos and documents. Ellsberg and Snowden appear to have made a calculated decision to go public no matter what the consequences on moral and intellectual grounds.

At the present time Snowden has more  public support for his actions than the Government has for its position  and he would almost surely win a jury trial if it is granted. However A.G. Holder has followed a strict application of the law and refuses to guarantee him one. Thus he has  continued to be  exiled in Moscow.

The solution is to prosecute persons and policy makers in the Government who deliberately violate the public trust or the Constitutional and legal principles of our government. Then there will not be any secrets for whistleblowers to expose.

Also it is necessary to have a separate agency to handle whistleblowers outside and independent  of the agencies that the whistleblowers are reporting on. One that will protect the whistleblowers not punish them. Then the whistleblower laws will have credence.

As for Snowden give him his public jury trial. The secrets are out anyway and let a jury decide if he was right or wrong. This is much better than having him in Russia with an FSB lawyer for counsel.