If it hadn?t been for the subtle and cynical intervention of the imperial Russian government, the American War for Independence might have failed. George Washington and his colleagues would have been condemned as traitors, and then dispatched to eternity with all of the horrors devised by inventive sadists to deter similar impudence on the part of those described as the Crown?s subjects.
This little-appreciated fact should be pointed out to those who have claimed that there was something inappropriate about Edward Snowden receiving help from Russia in his search for political asylum from the world?s most powerful and most lawless regime.
At the time of the American revolt, the British Empire enjoyed incontestable superiority at sea, but possessed a mediocre army. It could project power anywhere on the face of the globe, but depended on foreign mercenaries to do most of the hands-on work of killing and dying.
As the rebellion coalesced in the American colonies, George III made a formal request to Empress Catherine to rent 20,000 battle-hardened Russian infantrymen, and a flotilla of Russian naval vessels to supplement the task force en route to chastise the colonists. Catherine politely declined the offer while bidding her fellow monarch good luck. In private conversations, however, the Empress was indulgently disdainful of the British king, saying that he had bungled the management of the American colonies and should be ?taught a lesson.?
Catherine?s refusal to intervene on behalf of King George was not the only favor she did on behalf of the American patriot cause. As the War for Independence unfolded, the Empress conducted a brisk business supplying the navies of France and Spain, both of which gave material support to the Patriot cause.
When the British government began to interdict neutral shipping to inspect for America-bound ?contraband,? Catherine sent communiques to Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and Prussia proposing the creation of a ?League of Armed Neutrality? with the advertised aim of protecting freedom of the seas. This had the effect of diplomatically isolating Great Britain diplomatically, thereby nullifying its naval advantage. France labored under no similar restrictions. This is why the French fleet was able to supply ninety percent of the weapons used by American rebels in their War for Independence.
Russia was one of several countries to which the Continental Congress had deployed envoys in search of aid. Francis Dana, a former secretary to John Adams, endured a long, lonely, and apparently fruitless mission to the Court of St. Petersburg. Harried by the imperial secret police and immersed in the exhausting intrigue of court politics, Dana was never given an audience by the Empress, whose decisions were guided by calculated self-interest, rather than idealism. The dejected American emissary must have been astonished on his return to hear John Adams laud Catherine as a ?friend? of liberty?s cause, and to hear Washington extol the virtues of the ?great Potentate of the North.?
In his book The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800, historian Jay Winik describes Empress Catherine ? the authoritarian ruler of a Russian police state ? as the ?midwife? of American independence. The American revolt quite likely would not have succeeded if Britain hadn?t been ?neutralized and isolated by Catherine?s Armed League?; by denying King George?s request for military aid, and using her influence to curtail Britain?s naval advantage, the Russian tyrant ?helped bolster the hopes of beleaguered American rebels fighting for their lives?.?
The Russian government of Vladimir Putin has rendered similar aid to an American whistle-blower who is fighting for his life ? much to the dismay and outrage of people who are Americans by birth, rather than conviction, and who mistakenly believe that patriotism is measured by one?s willingness to abide the institutional criminality of the government that impudently rules us.
In 1995, when he plagued the House of Representatives, the execrable Senator Charles Schumer of New York ardently defended the Regime?s annihilation of the Branch Davidians outside Waco, and treated with unfiltered scorn anybody with sufficient temerity to condemn that Soviet-caliber episode of state-inflicted mass murder. As it happens, the FBI?s campaign to annihilate state enemies at Mt. Carmel received material assistance from the Russian security services in the person of the late Dr. Igor Smirnov of the Moscow Institute of Psycho-Correction ? whose wife, Elena Rusalkina, has continued his work as a ?counter-terrorism? contractor for the Department of Homeland Security.
Commissar Schumer, who lauded the joint U.S.-Russian production at Mt. Carmel, is now distraught that the Russians aren?t willing to help the Regime in Washington apprehend a state enemy so he can be tortured and put through a show trial. In a June 23 CNN interview, Schumer fumed that by ?aiding and abetting Snowden?s escape,? Putin had ?put a finger in the eye of the United States.? Schumer much prefers it when the Russians are aiding and abetting Washington?s murderous crimes against the American people.
Like the rest of his detestable cohort, Schumer believes that the world?s inhabitants, including foreign rulers, have a moral obligation to submit to Washington?s will. Assuming that Putin was involved in the decision to facilitate Edward Snowden?s flight from Hong Kong to Latin America, his actions may well have been motivated by a desire to give a metaphorical middle digit to Schumer and his ilk.
In any case, if Putin consciously aided Snowden, that choice -- like those made by the Empress Catherine ? was based on calculations of political advantage, rather than a principled devotion to individual liberty. And Edward Snowden?s willingness to accept help from Russia is akin to the entreaties made on behalf of the American rebels by Francis Dana.
Commenting about Snowden?s flight to Russia en route to Latin America, a very good friend (and former editor) of mine observed: "If Edward Snowden is going to hopscotch around the word to locations where elections are rigged and human rights ignored, that giant sucking sound is sympathy evaporating for him."
A better way of viewing Snowden?s behavior is that he is hopscotching around the world to countries not ruled by governments that kill people by remote control, and are strong enough to prevent him from being seized and tortured by the only government that routinely commits crimes of that kind.
Yes, Vladimir Putin and his clique are products of the Soviet system that murdered tens of millions of people. At present, however, they are content to contain their ambitions to the country they currently control.
Russian drones aren?t plying the skies above distant countries, raining death and terror on helpless neighborhoods. Putin the ex-KGB chief doesn?t have Tuesday meetings to authorize summary executions on the basis of a ?Kill List? compiled by anonymous and unaccountable functionaries. Russia?s FSB secret police, like its counterpart, the FBI, does stage false-flag terrorist incidents, but once again, those are carried out for domestic political purposes. Moscow doesn?t provide arms, training, and support to terrorist groups in Syria, Iran, and elsewhere; that?s Washington?s gig. And since September 2001 it has Washington, not Moscow, that employs the services of KGB-trained secret police in countries like Uzbekistan and Syria.
During the Brezhnev era, Soviet ?journalists? routinely participated in KGB-orchestrated denunciations of dissidents and human rights activists. As the well-coiffed commissar David Gregory demonstrated during his June 24 interview with Glenn Greenwald, behavior of that kind is not quite commonplace for members of the American media elite. An even more repellent example was provided by New York Times columnist Ross Sorkin, who said on CNBC that ?I?d almost arrest Glenn Greenwald [because] he wants to help get him to Ecuador or whatever.?
Russia is ruled by a degenerate gangster regime, not a cunning Communist cabal pursuing global hegemony and ideological domination. In many important ways, that long-suffering country is less collectivist than the United States has become.
In Russia today, "Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago is required reading in schools for 11th graders," notes Russian writer Stanislav Mishin (who could be described as the Russian equivalent of a Pat Buchanan-style nationalist conservative). "All the brutality of the Soviets and the crimes that were committed will be in the minds of our children for generations. Where is any review [in American schools] of the crimes that Wall Street committed when it sponsored and set up those same Communist Marxists or Hitler's Fascist Marxists? Nowhere. Where is the admission of the massacres that the American army committed in the independent nation of the Confederate States? Nowhere, nor [is there] anything of the terror bombings of German cities or anything else of that nature. You will never hear anything on these from those NYC/DC blabber heads who love their Wall Street and think that genocidaires like Sherman were bully."
Mishin observes that under the administration of former President Medvedev (a prot?g? of Putin), Russia had a flat income tax -- "and not the 30% or so suggested by those American conservatives but at 13" -- and a top corporate tax rate of 24% "compared to the American Federal rate of 36% and additional state rates." There is also a far greater diversity of opinion in the Russian media than one finds in the American "free" press ? a fact underscored quite memorably by the way the American media eagerly joined in the Orwellian Two-Minutes Hate of Edward Snowden.
What about foreign aggression and revolutionary subversion? Aren't Putin and his comrades to blame for promoting terrorism? One imagines Mishin drawing a steadying breath before addressing that subject.
"Who invaded over 30 nations in less than 200 years?" Mishin quite reasonably inquires. "Who has fought over 6 wars since 1991: Iraq followed by 10 years of bombing them, Somalia, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, while engaging unofficially in Somalia, Kenya, Yemen, Pakistan and the Philippines? Who waxes and screams for full invasions of Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Venezuela? Who threatened to bomb our ships and come in and defend the Chechen Islamics? Who sponsored revolutions in Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus (failed), Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan (failed), Moldova (failed)?"
Whatever we learn about Snowden?s motives and affiliations, questions of the kind raised by Mishin should be honestly considered by those who criticize the whistle-blower for ?hopscotching? from country to country to elude the long reach of the drone-murderers and dungeon masters in Washington. Assuming that a gap separates post-Soviet Russia from proto-Soviet Amerika, it's one that can be crossed in the kind of modest jump one performs in a hopscotch game.
William Norman Grigg publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.