This week’s timely revelation from Snowden and company exposed the practicable willingness of Anglo-Saxon states to use their superior surveillance technological know-how for national economic advantage. The particulars of their duplicity include:
· monitoring email messages and voice calls on delegates’ Blackberrys
· setting up ‘dummy’ Internet cafes for delegates and using email interception programs and key-logging software to spy on their activities
· targeting the Turkish finance minister and his entourage (also South Africa)
· eavesdropping (via NSA) on Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev voice calls to Moscow via satellite
· supplying round-the-clock summaries of communications between delegates (signal intelligence)
One must be impressed with the shrewdness of Snowden and company. Snowden either has an overwhelming catalogue of malfeasance by U.S. and British officials for any possible scenario. Or he has amassed the type of documents to correspond with the itinerary of current U.S. / U.K. officials. Last week, it was about NSA spying on Hong Kong university undergraduates etc just as Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, This week, the G20 revelation corresponds with the British hosted G8 meeting. The U.S. / U.K. officials might want to start changing their itinerary. In any case, depredations about Snowden’s lack of education credentials continue to backfire as college graduates, many of whom are Ivy League, are being outwitted by this drop-out.
In getting a feel for official and public mood, a revelation of this sort logically should and empirically seems to have initially soured Snowden’s standing amongst his own nationals. The commentariat regarding the Washington Post article articling this revelation1 seems to have strengthened the hands of those who are “officially disgusted with this treacherous little nerd”, whose “ideology trumps education and common sense”. However, one gets the impression that Snowden is not playing to a self-centered narcissistic American crowd but to greater humanity.
Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it’s only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%. Our founders did not write that “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all US Persons are created equal.”2
And in Snowden’s love of his country, he is advocating a tactic that could be said to be taken out of Christian Scriptures in order to reach his ‘Chosen People’.
First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”3
Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.4
The immediate impact ought to scuttle the strength of secular Turkish protests in Istanbul
The country’s embattled prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has blamed the international media, and in particular the BBC, for fomenting violent unrest and protests against his rule. Erdoğan has spoken repeatedly of an “international conspiracy”. News that his finance minister really was the victim of a British surveillance operation will strengthen his view.5
This revelation weakens the credibility of the secular faction in Turkey, who have long advocated and practiced laïcité while they were in rule, who are now on the defensive against a resurging Muslim population (largely rural and eastern). Indeed, in combination with other anti-Muslim Western policies and attitudes, mostly in Europe, it is quite probable that this NATO ally will increasingly drift into the Islamist and Russian camp; or at least towards a geopolitical neutrality.
And that is the rub. American foreign policy has since the 1960s, like its culture in general, moved toward a myopic, short-term, ad hoc, unprincipled, unenlightened self-interest. Henry Kissinger could be iconized as the first true personification of this self-serving indulgence, which finds itself consistently arming its future enemies, such as Iraq or Al-Qaida.
This devolution to raw self-interest is a far cry from Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points or the Truman Doctrine or Marshall Plan. Even if one disagrees with the particulars of Wilson’s plan, for instance; it is historically evident that an unenlightened self-interest contributed to the global propaganda coup by America against the small-minded, unenlightened self-serving interests of petty colonial European powers in the first half of the 20th Century.
Having spied on their allies; of whom many delegates were evidently too naïve and gullible (i.e. delegates using Internet Café of the host country) to distrust their hosts; responsible national self-interest can only lead to detrimental long-term consequences which hurt the Anglo-Saxon world. Even presuming that the elite class of every nation is aware of the duplicitous realities of their international counterparts, their less savvy masses become fodder to such revelations, which these elites can exploit at will. (This ‘everybody does it’ argument, found in the American commentariat is indicative of the old worldly-wise jaded whore that America has become, just like their European counterparts in previous centuries).
America/Britain has lost most, if not all, of their global moral authority. They can hardly castigate and preach about Chinese cyber and industrial espionage with straight face. And as a historical political observation and principle; attempting to govern without moral authority, requires considerably more blood and treasure than governing with moral authority. And as a historical political observation and principle, those elites, who lose moral authority, soon find a loss of raw power on the coattails.
The Significance Back Home
The British equivalent to NSA, GCHQ, which is led by that histrionic, patronizing prig, the Right Honorable William Hague, has a legislative mandate to gather information ‘in the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom’ through the 1994 Intelligence Services Act.
The purpose is to give the UK a competitive and negotiating advantage. It is justified on legal grounds because the 1994 Intelligence Services Act says the job of GCHQ is gather information “in the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom”.6
In other words, the purposes of global omniscient surveillance are not only because of due concern for protection against potential terrorist and other defense-related threats. No. It is also useful to give the UK a competitive and negotiating advantage, even against its allies. Ah! What else it this global omniscient surveillance useful for?
As much as having surveillance capabilities would be a wet dream for corporate managers in contract negotiations with unions, (or vice versa); a public would find such means of acquiring competitive and negotiating advantage unlawful and unjust. I doubt that the global community, who constitute 94-95% of the world population, beyond Anglo-America, thinks otherwise.
More importantly, NSA/GCHQ and their political overlords demonstrate a willingness to transcend or transgress the ostensible purposes of global omniscient surveillance that are being propagated. The argument by persons like Pat Buchanan, that the Defense and Intelligence boys are of a different quality of human being from other bureaucrats, such as those at the IRS, withers on the vine of this duplicity.
1. Anthony Faiola, “The Guardian: Britain, United States spied at summits”, The Washington Post, June 17, 2013, accessed http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/britain-united-states-spied-at-summits/2013/06/17/b4c3166c-d72b-11e2-b418-9dfa095e125d_allComments.html?ctab=all_& on June 18, 2013.
2. Glenn Greenwald, “Edward Snowden Q&A: Dick Cheney traitor charge is ‘the highest honor’”, The Guardian, June 17, 2013, accessed http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/17/edward-snowden-nsa-files-whistleblower on June 18, 2013.
3. Romans 10:19
4. Romans 11:11
5. Julian Borger et al, “G20 summits: Russia and Turkey react with fury to spying revelations” The Guardian, June 17, 2013, accessed http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/17/turkey-russia-g20-spying-gchq on June 18, 2013.
6. Richard Norton-Taylor, Spying for spying’s sake: spooks and their intelligence addiction”, The Guardian, June 17, 2013, Accessed http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/defence-and-security-blog/2013/jun/17/spying-spooks-intelligence-addiction on June 18, 2013.