Prisoners of War

Let’s look at the swap of WNBA player Brittany Griner for Viktor Bout.

Bout, aka The Merchant of Death (a moniker gifted by his prosecutors), was convicted for “trying to kill Americans”. Actually he was convicted of trying to sell arms to FARC, a group of Columbians that were fighting the Columbian regime supported by the United States. This attempted “killing of Americans” amounted to trying to arm people who were fighting U.S. military and bureaucratic forces who were in Columbia ostensibly enforcing U.S. drug laws. Bout was arrested in Thailand. There have been no allegations he committed his “crimes” on U.S. soil yet, he was tried and convicted in a New York courtroom.

Where the U.S. get the authority to arrest and convict individuals for acts committed in other parts of the world is a bit murky. Do other countries have such authority? Who decides who gets arrested for arming dissidents?

What it seems to boil down to is armed U.S. government agents, enforcing draconian U.S. drug laws outside of the United States, were facing the prospect of being resisted by those living in the country that was being invaded. Anyone that resists U.S. invasion is automatically a criminal in the eyes of the U.S. government apparently.

Bout simply ran afoul of U.S. drug laws.

Griner, on the other hand, broke Russian drug laws ON Russian soil. While taking a vape cartridge with cannabis oil through customs she got busted. It seems Russia can get a little draconian in their drug law enforcement as well. They don’t take drug smuggling lightly.

She claims she packed it by “accident”. Bull. She didn’t want to leave home without it. Period. Her Star Power would protect her. Black, lesbian athletes are the epitome of U.S. society. Apparently the Russians don’t share the American view on Woke Intersectionality. She should have been aware of this due to Russia’s well known intolerance of LGBTQ+ evangelism.

Sentenced to nine years, Griner got sent to a prison farm. Not unlike what the U.S. does in some cases. Yes, forced work is a component but, it would seem preferable to being in a Shawshank type facility. Most American commentators referred to it as a Penal Colony implying Devil’s Island type conditions. Some went so far to call it a “Soviet Gulag”. No one wants to be imprisoned but, it wasn’t like she was sent to Siberia. I’m certain there are many incarcerated in U.S. prisons for drug smuggling that would trade places with Griner.

Bottom line, Bout and Griner ran afoul of draconian drug war laws.

This brings us to another war.

The War in Ukraine.

Since the rise of Russian Nationalism in the form of Vladimir Putin there has been an undercurrent of hatred for the former Soviet Union in some quarters. These quarters are prominently occupied by the Democratic leadership such as the Clintons.  Openly supporting the drunken sock puppet Yeltsin and the rape of the Russian economy was the hallmark of the early years after the Soviet collapse. In 2014 the Obama/Biden administration bragged about the overthrow of a duly elected, Russia leaning, government in Kiev. State department harridan Victoria Nuland boasted of spending $5 Billion to make “Yats” the new leader of Ukraine. And, “F the EU”, by the way.

They then proceeded to support Ukrainian Nazi attacks on Crimea and Donbass. This slaughter continued unabated until Putin and Russia had had enough and decided to take military action to stop attacks in February of this year.

In doing so this triggered a response in the “West” of increased sanctions and military support for the Zelinsky mob running Ukraine. Most countries around the world did not go along but, NATO and a handful of Asian countries did.

The verbal attacks on Russia in general and Putin in particular, have been unrelenting. Russia has become, in the eyes of some, a pariah with which “civilized” countries do not engage.

Much of these efforts have backfired and Russia is now more economically sound and broadening its influence on the Asia continent.

It is against this backdrop that the Bout/Griner trade was negotiated. Why should Russia cooperate? What is the upside for them? Will it result in reduced sanctions? Will Russia be permitted to use the SWIFT system? It would seem that demonizing someone you want to negotiate with is not a great idea. Griner is lucky to be free. With all the rhetoric implying that Putin is Hitler, she’s lucky she wasn’t put up against a wall and shot. At least that’s how ruthless and demonic are the leaders of Russia…or so we are led to believe.

Maybe this POW swap will be an occasion to review these two wars of choice. Neither the drug war nor the proxy war against Russia via Ukraine has made for a better world. Utopia is not an option but, we need not exacerbate an imperfect world with intentional human folly.