How Bolivia Became Obama’s No. 1 Foreign Policy Screw-Up of the Year

 

What was President Obama’s biggest foreign policy screw-up of the year? There are several worthy contenders, but Dan Drezner nominates Obama’s decision to block the flight home of Bolivian President Evo Morales due to suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden might be on board:

Now, why was this such a big deal? It was a two-fer. First, in going after Snowden so aggressively, the administration put the lie to its claims that Snowden’s revelations weren’t that big of a deal….Second, and more significantly, the desperate and clumsy attempt to grab Snowden dramatically altered the perception by other governments about their preferences.

….When the U.S. forced Morales’ plane to make an emergency landing, [] Washington signaled that it was equally willing to f**k with the sovereignty franchise. At that point, all bets were off for countries predisposed to not helping the United States. Russia kept Snowden, Latin America kept polishing its resentment against the U.S., the rest of the world kept paying attention to Snowden’s revelations, and the United States lost significant hypocritical capabilities.

Would Snowden be in custody today if Obama hadn’t done this? Drezner figures there’s a good chance. I don’t happen to agree, since I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which Russia would be willing to turn over an American spy, but it’s a plausible guess.

In any case, you can lump this together with the fallout from revelations about spying on foreign leaders and bulk collection of overseas data and documents, and it certainly puts the Snowden leaks in the top two foreign policy events of the year for the United States. I’d still put Iran ahead of it if the current talks produce a breakthrough, but that’s it. If the talks fail, or produce only modest progress, then Snowden will be a clear #1.

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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