Mark Adomanis: Do As US Officials Say, Or Else!…

Mark Adomanis thinks Russia should extradite – or at least expel – Edward Snowden because… get this, it’s current stance (i.e. leaving him in at Sheremetyevo Airport, an international territory) constitutes “trolling” of the US.

This is, to be quite frank, a rather strange argument. Would the US extradite a Russian Snowden? To even ask the question is to mockingly answer it. Said Russian whistleblower would not only be sheltered by any Western country, but awarded with all kinds of freedom medals and lecture tours. It is commonly expected for defectors from not entirely friendly powers to get sanctuary and both Russia and Western countries regularly practice this. If anybody is trolling anybody, it is the UK which gives refuge to Russians who are patent economic criminals so long as they bring some money and claims of political repression with them.

Furthermore, he believes (a faint and vague) promise of improved Russia-US relations is worth sabotaging Russia’s incipient reputation as a sanctuary for Western “dissidents” – a status that is extremely valuable in international PR terms. It is a lot harder to argue with a straight face that West – Russia disagreements are a standoff between democracy and autocracy when for every Russian political exile there is an Assange or a Snowden. But Adomanis would like Russia to forego this advantage and betray the trust of any future exiles or defectors just to please a gaggle of perennially anti-Russian blowhards in D.C.

This is not to mention the fact that many other countries are peeved off by Snowden’s revelations, so if anything it is the US that is internationally isolated in demanding his extradition. Even ordinary Americans are somewhat split on what to do about him, with 49% believing his leaks to be in the public interest and 38% against prosecuting him. The Chuck Schumers not to mention the McCains (does Adomanis seriously think that John “I Saw the Letters K-G-B in Putin’s Eyes” McCain would suddenly become well-disposed to Russia if it were to extradite Snowden?) do not even have the overwhelming support of their own constituents.

Adomanis’ argument ultimately boils down to “might is right”:

But a country like Russia, a country that is less than half as populous as the United States and which is much, much poorer, can’t afford to deal with the US as an equal because it isn’t. You can fulminate against that fact all you want, but in the world as it exists in mid 2013 Russia simply can’t afford to go all-in on confrontation with the United States because that is a confrontation it is guaranteed to lose. The Russians usually do a reasonable enough job of picking their battles, but they’ve suddenly decided to go 100% troll for no obvious reason. As should be clear, Russia doesn’t actually gain anything from helping Snowden,* all it does is expose itself to the full wrath and fury of every part of Washington officialdom. Unless you’re defending a national interest of the first order, exposing yourself to the full wrath and fury of Washington officialdom is a really stupid thing to do.

Here is what La Russophobe wrote in her interview with me, on another matter in which Russian and American interests (in her opinion) diverged:

Now please tell us: Russia has risked infuriating the world’s only superpower and biting the hand (Obama’s) that feeds it. … Are you suggesting that you believe Russian power is such that it can afford to act however it likes regardless of the way in which its actions may provoke the USA and NATO?

When you are starting to sound like La Russophobe, it’s probably a good time to stop and reconsider.

The answer to this objection – apart from the entirely reasonable one that kowtowing to the demands of a foreign power is a contemptible thing to do period – is that the Russia doesn’t need the US any more than the US needs Russia. And clumsily attempts to equate “need” with economic/military beans-counting (Adomanis: “Someone just commented on my blog saying “the West needs Russia as much as Russia needs the West.” Yeah, that’s definitely not true… The West, taken together, is so much more wealthy and powerful than Russia it’s actually kind of a joke… You can dislike the West as much as you want, but if you think Russia and the West are equally powerful then you are simply wrong… And if Russia creates policy based on the assumption that it’s equal to the West in power and influence it will fail catostrophically”) isn’t going to fool many people. Because, you know, the level of a country’s “need” for another isn’t a direct function of how much GDP and tanks it has relative to the other. And yes, while I am a realist, it’s a position tempered by the observation that today’s world is a wee bit more complex than it was in the days when the guy with the biggest club set the rules for everybody.

The US is of course a lot more wealthy and powerful than Russia. Nobody is arguing the reverse; it’s a strawman set up by Adomanis himself. What is however of some relevance is that the US has real need of Russia on some issues (e.g. Iran and nukes; transportation to Afghanistan) while Russian economic dependence on the US is actually very small (trade with the US accounts for something like 5% of its total). Both countries benefit from anti-terrorism cooperation. I think it is ridiculous to believe that US politicians will torpedo all that in a hissy fit over Snowden. I give them more credit than that.

UPDATE: Just recalled that Mark Adomanis works for Booz Allen Hamilton, the same consultancy that employed Snowden – and which happens to get 99% of its business from official DC. So it may well be that Adomanis’ opportunities for saying what he really thinks on the Snowden affair may be… rather limited. While I am not saying this necessarily influenced his articles – as regards this, we can only speculate – it would have probably been appropriate for him to mention this considering the obvious conflict of interest.

UPDATE 2: This article was translated by Inosmi.


  1. David Habakkuk says:

    “I give them more credit than that.”


    • Because while many US politicians might have knee-jerk reactions and rather parochial outlooks – just like politicians elsewhere – they are not psychotics who would, to quote Mercouris below, “Declare war? Invade? Break off diplomatic relations?”

  2. Dear Anatoly,

    I totally agree with everything you say in this article.

    To suggest that the Russians should cringingly capitulate and hand over Snowden who has done them no harm and who has exposed a possibly unconstitutional surveillance operation in his own country which has international ramifications which affect both Russia and China (and it seems Germany too) would be simply contemptible.

    As for the question of “power”, what exactly does Adomanis think the US is going to do to Russia if Russia does not hand over Snowden? Declare war? Invade? Break off diplomatic relations? Try to overthrow it’s government – oops!I’d forgotten. The US has been doing that already for years and with complete lack of success. The US could of course extend NATO into eastern Europe or install ballistic missile interceptors there – but hold on – it’s doing that too! Or the US could try to browbeat Russian judges and interfere in Russian court decisions in order to interfere in Russian domestic politics and embarrass the Russian government – but gosh! – it’s also doing that already (see Khodorkovsky, Magnitsky, Pussy Riot etc). Then again it might try to limit commercial relations but hey, only last year the US government decided to get rid of Jackson Vanik because that was in the US’s (not Russia’s) best interests. Or it could of course arm an anti government insurgency in a country friendly to Russia – Syria for example – but blimey – it’s doing that too!

    All in all I struggle to see what Adomanis thinks the US could do to harm Russia over and above what it is already doing and has done. As for the US granting Russia “favours” in return for Snowden, that was the approach taken by the Russian government in the 1980s and 1990s and we all know what the result of that was.

    In fact I would go further and would say that the problem with Adomanis’s article is that so far from providing a realistic assessment of Russian weakness its problem is that it dangerously overestimates US strength. As such it is a further example of the hubris and megalomania and self deception that affects so much of the thinking in the US these days.

    I would add two more points

    1. Not for the first time I find myself in total disagreement with Adomanis’s views of the legal position. It seems to me that the US authorities made a disastrous mistake when they charged Snowden under the Espionage Act instead of simply for theft. By any reasonable definition Snowden is not a traitor or a spy and it is completely over the top to charge him under an Act that in spite of its poor wording requires that he is. Moreover the things that have been said about Snowden make it impossible to believe that he would get a fair trial in the US. It seems to me that there is at least a prima facie case for saying that Snowden would have a well founded fear of persecution for his political actions and beliefs if he were to be go or be sent back to the US. Given that this is so, far from having a reason to expel him it seems to me that if Snowden were to apply to the Russians for political asylum they would actually be under a duty under the European Convention of Human Rights not just to consider his request carefully but possibly even to grant it. In fact given the obvious difficulties Snowden is having getting to Ecuador he might be well advised to do just that.

    2. My second point is that in his two articles on Russia and Snowden we have seen Adomanis let drop his libertarian mask. No where in his two articles is there an ounce of recognition or sympathy for the plight of a young man who has exposed a massive and possibly unconstitutional surveillance operation carried out by the government of his own country against its own people. Instead Adomanis’s entire language is the language of power. Russia must it seems hand Snowden over to the US for punishment because the US wills it and is stronger.

    Personally I find this attitude repugnant. I will remember it when Adomanis clambers back on to his libertarian high horse next time a Russian case that exercises him (as the Pussy Riot case did) comes up.

  3. If Russia really wants to bitch slap America, then not only offer Snowden asylum, offer blanket asylum to any white American. There would be 100 million+ of my pale skinned countrymen beside beating on the Kremlins door.

    PUTIN 2016

    • Sigh. I noticed that a member of a certain fanatically Russophobic hive mind was complaining about anti-Semitic comments under RT articles and how much Greenwald, Assange et al all hate Israel and love Russia. As if Israel has not been snuggling up to Moscow both diplomatically and commercially for years, culminating in last year’s King David Hotel red carpet for Putin and his 200 strong entourage plus the Israeli UAV sales to the Russian armed forces and God knows what other transfers of U.S. taxpayer-derived technologies. As if there aren’t some in the Israeli military and perhaps even Mossad who would be fine with leaking coordinates of the worst Sunni jihadist scumbags fighting among the Syrian rebels to Russia so that the Russians can in turn allow the Assad regime to more accurately target and kill Israel’s top foes in the Syrian opposition.

      And these people also discount the possibility of anyone deliberately Stormfront trolling RT’s comments threads to insist, ‘See! Everyone who reads RT is an anti-Semite!’ and give all the haters another talking point. The CNET thread under Declan McCullagh’s article about NSA warrantlessly spying was crawling with them.

      I doubt 99% of RT’s website article readers bother to read the comments and of those maybe 1/10th of one percent actually leave a comment of their own. It’s the Internet equivalent of having the late white supremacist talk radio host Hal Turner on the FBI payroll.

      Anyway while Russia might become a haven someday for HBD thinkers and researchers it is hardly going to be the great white hope that some U.S. white supremacists insist it is, especially given the Ghenghis Khan (Shoigu — who may prove to be Putin’s successor)/Armenian (Lavrov, following in the footsteps of Mikoyan)/Jewish (numerous oligarchs) descent of so many prominent Russians.

    • Putin is not going to run in 2016, because there will not be Presidential elections that year.

  4. “In fact I would go further and would say that the problem with Adomanis’s article is that so far from providing a realistic assessment of Russian weakness its problem is that it dangerously overestimates US strength. As such it is a further example of the hubris and megalomania and self deception that affects so much of the thinking in the US these days.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. George F. Will’s latest column ranting about how Putin as the leader of a ‘Third World country’ that just happens to have many nukes was another example of D.C. (including ‘conservative’ D.C.’s) detachment from reality. If you told Will that Russia was rapidly approaching convergence with South Korean levels of Purchasing Power Parity or had the highest per capita income of the BRICs (Will would probably reply that Brazil is also ‘Third World’, though it depends as in the U.S. on where you are, the Rio Grande Valley or Detroit versus Falls Church where Will lives) he’d probably just shake his head in disbelief.

  5. Assange and Snowden are fur-less pigs…the western media is squealing and rooting for Putins head…ever since Putin and Co went RICO on Yukos. Dugin was right…US and NATO are a problem…not a partner.

  6. Adomanis’ last 3 articles on Snowden were removed from the Forbes web site. I wonder by whom?
    They generated a hugely negative, mostly demeaning and insulting to Adomanis response. Perhaps Forbes magazine did that (taking conflict of interest into account).
    The articles by Adomanis are scurrilous. He alternates between being pro Russia and writing some notoriously Russophobic ones. The conclusion I can draw from this is that:
    1. Adomanis wants to generate an interest, to get traffic, stir controversy and attract attention.
    2. Adomanis is also a psychopath who has no moral standing on anything and would stop at nothing to get ahead in his occupation. He is a thoroughly immoral person, quite degenerate.
    I should also say, that Adomanis does dislike Russia and in an underhanded way always quotes statistics about Russian GDP which is lowest he can get and most of the time falsely lower than it is.

    • Just to make things clear – and to address perhaps inevitable suspicions – I had no part whatsoever in their removal. I did not write to Forbes about it nor did I even comment there. Personally, while I do think Adomanis should have put a disclaimer about his employment for the sake of journalistic ethics if nothing else, the articles did not warrant being removed.

      And to be honest the criticism is way over the top. While it’s perfectly fine to disagree with Adomanis’ opinions on Snowden and Russia, I think using words like “psychopath,” “immoral,” and “degenerate” is way out of line.

      • Does Adomanis have a moral position? He writes about Snowden, freedom, human rights and yet his position is dishonest, he conceals and perverts facts. Also, concerning Snowden: a young, idealistic, liberal person, the image which Adomanis wants to project of himself and which doesn’t fit, can’t possibly make arguments for Snowden’s extradition based solely on the the assertion US is stronger. This is a scurrilous reasoning, which only a person without a moral compass can make. Yes, psychopath, and he looks like one (psychopaths can be medically diagnosed using a gamut of traits, appearance is a contributing factor). I actually, prefer Kim (La Russophobe), she is an honest troll, not an underhanded degenerate.

        • Let’s not get all Russophobe on Adomanis…he’s in D.C. and D.C. has put him in a tough spot. Defending Snowden wouldn’t be popular with this bosses. It’s why Joshua Foust is going after Snowden hard, probably doesn’t want to become persona non grata to his defense sources.

          Even people who admit NSA looks completely incompetent on this one and may very will be riddled with actual Russian and Chinese spies will always circle the wagons when it comes to NSA being evil or having any evil people in it gleefully sending data to the White House for Stasi-style blackmail. D.C. will always choose massively, ridiculously incompetent over evil, every time, and so will the Streetwise Professor hivemind.

          The national security state is massive and like the Mob is rather unforgiving unless you are a ‘made man’. Everyone else is expendable and they can even make themselves look like jackasses for hiring a ‘Paulbot’ ‘high school dropout’ who walked out with a flash drive containing data that caused ‘irreparable harm’ to national security.

          One last thing…for you three letter agency worshippers who pretend to be on the Right or classical liberals or even libertarians…if you happen to live in a state like Texas that’s likely to nullify federal gun laws, tread carefully. Your neighbors might not take kindly to your fanatical defense of the agencies that could be used to blackbag or target them in the extreme case that state nullification lead to some sort of Civil War 2.0 scenario. Read Matthew Bracken’s ‘What I Saw at the Coup’ or Bob Owens for some enlightenment.

          Bracken: What I Saw at the Coup

          What You’ll See at the Rebellion

          DHS and NSA supposedly have their lists. But I can’t say with 100% certainty they’re the only ones.

          • Please please please do not misunderstand the above. Anyone calling for violence is just giving the D.C. fascists what they want as they are rapidly losing credibility and trust everywhere, not just in this country but worldwide. I only speak to warn EVERYONE that once the 4th Amendment is gone and people perceive that they’re losing their 2nd and 1st things can escalate dangerously. East Germany and the USSR under Stalin didn’t have 200 million guns in private hands, and 150 million of them rifles with varying military utility. Nor did the East Germans ever face the serious threat of elements in their military actually joining a ‘counterrevolution’ and taking some of their hardware with them. Unfortunately for those who would implement the Weathermen’s plans for America they better be worried that ‘insiders’ might arrest those who give them illegal or unConstitutional orders.

            • Last comment on this thread…again I am trying to tread carefully myself and not get the host of this site in any trouble…I saw a survey saying 26% of Democrats surveyed believe that the Tea Party could pose a terrorist threat. For those who insist DHS/SPLC/MSNBC haven’t engaged in propaganda to denounce returning veterans, gun owners and libertarians as potential terrorists, read the survey results again. Seems that propaganda is starting to sink in among at least the Kos Kidz fanatics.


              On the other side of the coin, 44% of Republicans surveyed said it’s possible at some future point Americans may have to fight their own government. If these aren’t signs of psychological precondtiioning for Civil War 2.0, what is? And casually discussing drone strikes or blackbagging Snowden is contributing to this atmosphere:


              Again, three letter agency worshippers, this isn’t a game. If you love your country stop blindly excusing agencies that are out of control and that there is strong evidence are being turned inwardly against the American people. They are doing a sh*tty job of protecting you from Russia and China and if you believe NSA isn’t riddled with actual foreign spies you are head in the sand useful idiots for this regime.

  7. My assessment of Adomanis is this: Adomanis wants to occupy a niche which nobody has taken in the West: a perceived “moderate” on Russia. However, Adomanis is a much more dangerous enemy than La Russophobe, just more devious. He attracts the audience which is more open minded about Russia and attempts to lie to it and convert it into more Russophobic position. He dissembles, distorts statistics, outright lies and, very clearly, hates Russia. Adomanis acts in an underhanded way, but he is not very bright, so a perceptive person can see through him. This is his weakness, Adomanis is also quite ignorant in amny aspects of politics, economics and history, and a poor writer, his every article has words misspelled and he puts a lot of homophones instead of correct words, a sign of poor literacy.

  8. In spite of what I and everyone else have said about these articles I hope the removal of Adomanis’s articles are not a sign that he is in trouble with Forbes. Certainly I don’t think the articles merited removal. For the rest, in spite of my many disagreements with Adomanis, he remains for me a relative voice of reason about Russia in the mainstream media. As I have said many times, those who criticise Adomanis need to remember that a columnist who held the sort of views that regularly appear on this blog would not be writing for Forbes. Since Forbes has to have a columnist who writes on Russian questions it is far better that it be Adomanis as opposed to one of the usual hired guns out there.

    • Scowspi says:

      I generally agree with this. He probably has to include a certain amount of fluff in his articles in order to to stay at Forbes. That wasn’t the case at his previous gig (“True-Slant” or whatever it was called). Otherwise I think psychoanalyzing people over the Internet is a waste of time.

  9. A good, honest journalist is preferable to a scheming degenerate like Adomanis.

  10. @Scowspi: if one has to compromise with one’s conscience, that person gradually becomes a spineless scoundrel. We need people like Manning and Snowden, not like Adomanis. There should be no “fluff”=compromise on truth and integrity.

    AK: Okay, look, could you stop with the Adomanis bashing already? Criticize his ideas as much as you want but no more personal attacks (“degenerate,” “scoundrel,” etc). This is not a request but a demand.

  11. T. Chapman says:

    AK and others involved: I kind of disagree that Adomanis is in a purely intellectual discussion about Russia. He has an agenda and the question of Snowden, especially, if the conflict of interest is involved, is definitely a moral issue. One can honestly discuss intellectual differences but not when it appears Adomanis is involved in an agenda driven propaganda. (which, incidentally, has all the wrong connotations). In his now deleted series of articles, Adomanis never addressed the question of depravity associated with universal NSA spying but, instead, went right to the question of expediency of extraditing Snowden. I think this moral value-free approach has irked quite a few, especially, since Adomanis always pontificates on the subject of freedom.

  12. It is one thing to engage in intellectual discussion, say, about merits of Russia’s WTO membership, it is quite another to suggest Snowden should be extradited simply because US is a bigger bully on the block, without ever mentioning the ethical aspect of the problem. It is like suggesting your grandmother is old and you can get a tax write off if you sell her for body parts. I totally agree with Sergey, he is not a troll, I think Adomanis’ position is morally despicable and if he takes such a position at a young age, I do not see any hope for him to ever be anything but repugnant.

    • I told him twice that I do not want to see overt ad homs against Adomanis here. In response he tells me (the site owner) to go fuck myself. As far as I’m concerned that is trolling and he will remain banned.

      That is all completely independent of Adomanis’ position on Snowden, on which I of course strongly disagree as you do.

  13. Adomanis may be a “stuckach”, i.e. someone who deliberately provokes a response by writing outrageous stuff once in a while, helping his security company “Booz Allen and Hamilton” to target those who have “un American” replies. I agree with the opinions expressed by Sergey and Valery, Adomanis is not to be trusted. I don’t think some crumbs he occasionally throws at Russia supporters by writing moderately balanced articles (which are interspersed with provocations) are doing any good. Russian media needs to become more internationally oriented, RT is just one example.

  14. Insert links, don’t copy-paste and without attribution to boot

    Hurrah! You are right, Russia is experiencing a demographic change for the better!

  15. I tried to pose the question on why the articles on Snowden were removed from, to Adomanis via his blog, the other few readers did the same, however, all these questions were promptly deleted without an answer from the Forbes website by Adomanis.

    It seems, Adomanis has buried his head in the sand, quite foolishly, about his work for the same spy firm (Booz Allen) as Snowden, and Adomanis subsequent lashing out at him without telling us the obvious conflict of interest.

  16. AK: What you are doing here – posting two year old articles about Russia’s growing irrelevance – has no relation to the subject of this post. There is a special section here where you can discuss anything you want that’s Russia related, but comments in reply to posts have to be related to the subject of said post. What you currently insist on doing constitutes trolling. This is your final warning. Cut it out or get banned.