FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Political Asylum Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be

by DAVID MACARAY

As Edward Snowden, the young American accused of blowing the whistle on NSA surveillance tactics, continues his search for a fresh start in a new country in order to avoid extradition and perhaps a lengthy prison term in a U.S. prison, he needs to ask himself a couple of things.

First, can he speak Spanish? According to the latest reports, the two countries most likely to offer him asylum (after the Russians more or less made it clear they didn’t want him) are Venezuela and Bolivia, both of which speak Spanish. Granted, if Snowden has the faculty for picking up a foreign language, he’ll eventually get the hang of it, but until he does, it’s going to be real drag walking around sounding like—and being treated as—a Yankee tourist.

Also, he needs to bear in mind that, as an acknowledged fink (even one motivated by highly defensible ethical reasons), he will never be trusted again, not by anyone. He needs to know that. Because he’s an acknowledged fink, he will never be entirely trusted by friends, casual acquaintances, future girlfriends, or future employers. He also needs to know that the reason Venezuela or Bolivia offered him asylum wasn’t because they coveted him. They largely did it to thumb their nose at the U.S.

Which raises another question. What sort of job does Snowden expect to get, once he relocates? While it’s very likely the country providing asylum will, for the time being at least, provide him with a monthly stipend on which to live, they will eventually expect him to get off his duff and find work.

What kind of career does he plan to have? There is no way in hell anyone’s going to give him a job where he has access to computers or sensitive information. (“Here, Ed, take this stack of documents and file them under Confidential.”) As an American, not only will he always be considered an “outsider,” he has, unfortunately, established a track record as someone who’s willing to take matters into his own hands if he feels there’s a moral or legal justification for doing so. It’s going to be a tough road for this young man.

It was different for actual “defectors,” which Snowden clearly is not. Cold War defectors were a breed unto themselves. Take men like the legendary British spy Kim Philby, who, after years of feeding classified information to the KGB, fled England to live in the USSR where he was treated almost as a national hero. His defection was tantamount to a religious conversion. So enamored was Philby with Soviet-style socialism, he was willing to risk arrest, pack it all in, and betray his own country for it.

But that’s not Snowden. He didn’t blow the whistle on his fellow Americans because he admired Venezuela’s political ideology. Young Snowden just desperately wanted to do the “right thing,” which, in my opinion, he did. Alas, he’s going to be paying for that decision the rest of his life. Que lastima (as they say in Venezuela).

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor” 2nd edition), was a former union rep.  Dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail