Olympic Sport – CW Racing? And Snowden? | Charles Duelfer

Olympic Sport – CW Racing? And Snowden?

Snowden Lighting the Olympic Flame?  I bet someone in Moscow has considered it.

The Olympics in Sochi are getting to be a test of political skill as well as athletic skill.  President Vladimir Putin clearly has Russia’s reputation, and more importantly his own reputation, on the line.  This presents the opportunity to promote a wide range of issues on Moscow at a time when Putin is forced to care about his international appearance.

The United States seized this moment with respect to re-motivating Bashar al-Assad to get his CW materials out of country.  Bashar al-Assad, seems to have began thinking he could derive another bit of political benefit by slowing compliance with this last stage of the UN mandated process in the context of the Geneva talks.  (It is worth remembering that Syria has already destroyed its capabilities to use and manufacture CW so Syria has already lost any military utility of its CW.)  He missed the two deadlines to get the chemicals out of country—while the international flotilla gathered to move them steams around in circles.

Washington raised this in a public way saying (correctly) that this was a problem Russia could solve.  With the Olympics coming up, I can just imagine the message from the Russians to Damascus…”move it….now!”

Damascus now says (according to Russian media) that it will be getting the chemicals out by the end of the month.

After the Olympics, my guess is Putin will be looking for opportunities to repay the favor.  In fact during the Olympics, I could see Putin offering a prominent seat to Edward Snowden (lighting the Olympic flame would be too much). 

Watch AT&T.  AT&T is making a prominent point about the LGBT issue, condemning the position of Russia.  This is quite brave.  AT&T is very vulnerable to international business damage rippling out from Snowden.   I cannot help but imagine Russia publicly and quietly spreading the image that US firms are dangerous business partners with substantial financial consequences.  Stay tuned.

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