Foreign Policy Screw-Up of the Year

Dan Drezner:

The drama started Tuesday after Portuguese authorities wouldn’t let Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane land in Lisbon for refueling while on his way back from a conference in Russia, Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra told CNN en Español.

France, Spain and Italy also wouldn’t let the plane enter their airspace, Bolivian officials said.

With no clear path home available, the flight’s crew made an emergency landing in Austria.

“We are told that there were some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane,” Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said.

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. Grounding another head of state’s plane is, to use the vice presidential vernancular, a big f**king deal. Clearly the United States wanted Snowden in custody, and wanted him bad.

Second, and more significantly, the desperate and clumsy attempt to grab Snowden dramatically altered the perception by other governments about their preferences. It’s worth remembering that even six weeks after Snowden fled the United States, the rest of the world’s governments were feeling, at best, ambivalent about him.


Competence has not exactly been the hallmark of this administration.


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