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Obama gets ‘tough’ with Ecuador by way of Joe Biden

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The United States really picks its battles these days.

China and Russia are too big to take on, but we can send Joe Biden after Ecuador.

joebidenLast week, President Obama said he wasn’t willing to make the case of NSA-leak source Edward Snowden a major issue in the country’s relations with the China and Russia, which have both basically treated the U.S. with disdain in the case: China by letting Snowden flee from the Hong Kong; Russia by permitting Snowden to live freely for the past few days in the “transit” area of Sheremetyevo Airport.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said Saturday that Vice President Joe Biden had called to ask him not to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, the source of leaks about the National Security Agency’s program of monitoring Americans’ electronic communications, according to a New York Times report.

In a weekly television broadcast, Correa said Biden was “cordial” during the call and that Ecuador would consider take the U.S. position into account.

“Cordial” Biden might have been, but he must not have been too persuasive. Far from agreeing that his country would not give asylum to a confessed felon sought by the United States, Correa only said he couldn’t make any decision about Snowden’s request for asylum until Snowden had actually reached Ecuador or one of its embassies.

From China and Russia, the U.S. gets a cold shoulder that, but for the diplomatic niceties amounts to actual contempt. From Ecuador – tiny Ecuador – we get a “we appreciate your position, we’ll take it into account.”

Correa has a definite anti-imperialist history, and Ecuador did grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julain Assange after he published huge amounts of leaked U.S. diplomatic information. So, isn’t it a little tacky to have the vice president of the United States – one heartbeat away from the presidency – calling Correa hat-in-hand to ask for help in a criminal case?

Shouldn’t the world’s sole remaining superpower be able to drum up a little more respect?

Liberals are always talking about America’s standing in the “international community” when Republican cowboy presidents are in charge.

When countries large and small feel free to thumb their noses without consequences, your standing in the “international community” doesn’t get much lower.

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