I for one am not complaining
Last February I heard Women’s NBA player Britney Griner was arrested in Moscow for carrying hashish oil in her luggage, and like million my reaction was, “Who?” Apparently she is a well know WNBA player and was playing off season in Russia to make some extra cash. Can’t knock her for wanting to make some side money, I do it myself.
As of yesterday, Ms. Griner was traded by Moscow for a convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. By all accounts, he is a piece of human waste, selling arms to both sides of the Angolan civil war, and other conflicts. Bout was caught when he was lured to Taiwan in a sting operation set up by the US Drug Enforcement Agency:
By 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration devised a plan to lure Bout out of Russia with an arms deal that would be hard to refuse. The agency hired an undercover agent to contact a trusted associate of Bout's about a big business deal. That exchange led to the first meeting between the DEA's fake arms buyers, who were posing as officials of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as the FARC, and Bout's associate on the island of Curacao, a few hundred miles off the coast of Colombia…
…Weeks later, Bout was on his way to Thailand, thinking he would be meeting with FARC officials to discuss shipping what prosecutors said was "an arsenal of military grade weapons" to attack American helicopters in Colombia.
During a March 2008 meeting in a Bangkok hotel conference room, Bout told the DEA informants posing as FARC officials that he could airdrop the arms in Colombia and acknowledged that the weapons could be used to kill Americans…
OK, after he was sentenced to 25 years (Scheduled to be released in 2029), Russia wanted him back. And whom did he get back in return.
Let's just say Ms. Griner is not Miss America. Not sure if she knelt during the National Anthem or just waited in the locker room until after honors to America were completed, but she did say it should not be played during WNBA games.
For the moment, lets assume the worse about Ms. Griner, is this the worse possible outcome? Not really.
In 2014, then President Obama traded five Taliban prisoners, men who could only be described as high officials in the organization, in exchange for one Army deserter, Bowe Bergdahl. After Bergdahl deserted his unit in 2009, six soldiers were killed looking for him (a seventh died from his wounds later). What’s happened since then? Well, the five served for a time in the Taliban’s political office in Qatar. Latest is four are now officials of the new Afghanistan government that Joe Biden installed (don’t doubt number five is still working for the Taliban).
I remember a very heated Facebook dispute with a high school friend, who claimed the trade for Bergdahl was something “Americans do,” and we don’t leave soldiers on the battlefield. I pointed out to the Obama worshiper (likely has a 10ft by 15ft picture of The One on his wall to worship 5 times daily…slight exaggeration) that Bergdahl was a deserter in a time of war, men died trying to get his ass back, and if anything he should be facing a court martial and execution upon return. Also, prisoner exchanges are one for one, and generally at the same Geneva Convention Level, i.e., Bergdahl would be traded for one Taliban fighter, not five Taliban “generals.”
I explained to my friend, “In the chess game that is war, your idol gave the enemy back their queen, both knights, both rooks, and in return we didn’t get back a checker.”
Now, back to Ms. Griner. Latest I heard was Biden’s State Department was trying to arrange a two for one trade, Bout for Griner and former Marine and civilian contractor Paul Whelan. Reportedly Biden said he made an “agonizing” decision to leave Whelan there because he could bring one home or none home. Reportedly Putin was willing to exchange two for two last summer, but that fell apart.
Mr. Biden, in case you missed it, you have lost your best leverage with Putin. Good luck in future negotiations with him. Damn I would love to play poker with you Joe, but it be unsporting to wipe the floor with a mental defective.
So, in summary, a bad deal, but it could have been much worse.