Sunday, November 3, 2013

US Spying

So, the huge news as of late has been the exposing of just how vast the American spying network is. In Spain alone, there were some sixty million phone conversations that were spied on in a one month period of time alone!

The German Chancellor is angry that the Americans were spying on her, and other formerly allied nations are also upset that Americans are spying on them. More recently, reports that Japan actually refused to assist the Americans in their attempts to spy on China. All year long, it has been just one bombshell story after another.

Yes, the criticism is all over, and how has the Obama administration responded?

Not by denying it, but by retorting that every country does the same thing.

Does every country really spy on their alleged friends, though?

Perhaps. That's actually not implausible, or even tough to believe.

But it is the sheer size of the American spy network, as well as a complete absence of limitations in this case, that has gotten them in trouble.

The description lately about these allegations has been that these reports have become a constant "drip, drip, drip". One story after another comes out, and the United States keeps finding itself on the spot.

People are amazed at just how huge the spying really is, although I am not entirely sure why this should come as a surprise. We all kinds of suspected it, right?

It almost reminds me of the vast files that were unearthed in regards to the Stasi, following the end of East Germany. The network of secretive information from spying was shockingly vast back then, and many Americans expressed shock and horror, and used that as further justification for engaging in the Cold War, in defeating the tyranny of the communist threat.

Now, it is the American government itself that poses this threat.

Many Americans scoff at these notions, and simply want the criticism to go away. They are making too big of a deal with this. Similar arguments are made in regards to Russia, and how Putin should simply return Snowden back to the United States, so he can be tried in an American court of law.

The thing is, these countries -Germany, France, Spain, and other Western European nations, as well as Japan - have traditionally long been friends to the United States, since at least the end of World War II.

Is this how friends treat one another? How can they ever trust us? After all, it was little more than a decade ago that we scoffed at their opposition to the invasion or Iraq. We made fun of them, poked fun at their own sense of self-importance for daring to oppose us. In the process, we insisted that Saddam's Iraq posed a dire and immediate threat to world peace. There absolutely, positively are weapons of mass destruction (WMD's), no doubt about it. Stockpiles of such weapons.

Of course, we were wrong. And we lost much of the good faith, and well earned trust that had been carefully built over the course of decades.  Now, with this latest scandal, we have given our traditional allies even more reason to distrust us.

It probably would have been the same with George W. Bush still at the helm. But these reports are coming under the Obama White House. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

And many thought that Obama represented real change?

The latest seems to be that, finally, American officials are thinking about ending this spying program, because it just seems to be doing irreparable damage.

You think?

If American officials claim that such spying is justified, then how can they even contemplate ending it? And if they are thinking of ending it now, why did they begin it in the first place? Was it worth the political (and possibly economic) price that it wound up costing them?

I disagree with much that Putin has to say, but the thing that he said that angered Americans in particular to no end was actually true: American exceptionalism is just too costly. Until Americans acknowledge that they are not above the law, and above anyone, let alone everyone, else, these kinds of embarrassments and tensions will continue to rise, unabated. This is the price of our own arrogance. It's time to get over ourselves, and our own sense of self-worth and delusions of grandeur. I think the signs are all there, and growing more apparent with each passing day: the time to end American exceptionalism is long past. It's time to dismantle this very flawed system.

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