Mr. Obama has invested precious diplomatic capital trying to “reset” relations with Russia and personalize relations with China’s leaders, including this month with Mr. Xi in Palm Springs. Hanging with dictators can’t be Mr. Obama’s idea of a good time, but if there’s a point to the exercise it’s precisely so he can pick up the phone and intercede with Vlad and Jinping over this kind of issue. …

It’s worth wondering whether Mr. Obama didn’t make the calls because he feared a personal rebuke, or he wants to downplay the national-security and diplomatic humiliation, or he thinks the Snowden affair is beneath his dignity and best handled by consular officials filling out paperwork—or because he really thinks Gen. Alexander is exaggerating the damage Mr. Snowden has done. …

Meantime, Mr. Obama seems to think the only way to force Mr. Snowden’s extradition is to make concessions to the Chinese and Russians, rather than demand his return and force Moscow and Beijing to pay a price for failing to comply. Perhaps it’s because this Administration rarely seems to exact any price for the misbehavior of other countries that our diplomatic demarches are now treated with such open disdain.