Edward Snowden’s stories keep leaking out, yet Russia says he must not do this. The latest one is on how the NSA spies on European leaders.
They all knew this. Their voters did not. This is the threat Snowden poses, and American foreign policy experts know this.
In an article for the forthcoming edition of Foreign Affairs magazine, Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore argue that it’s the disclosure of such practices rather than their existence that is damaging.”When these deeds turn out to clash with the government’s public rhetoric, as they so often do, it becomes harder for U.S. allies to overlook Washington’s covert behavior and easier for U.S. adversaries to justify their own,” they write.
“The U.S. government, its friends, and its foes can no longer plausibly deny the dark side of U.S. foreign policy and will have to address it head-on,” they argue.
The U.S. government will pretend to address this head-on. It will do nothing substantive, which would involve cutting the NSA’s budget. This, politicians will not do, since the NSA has been monitoring their phone calls. The politicians know who holds the hammer: the NSA.
The latest story is that Obama was informed of this spying this summer, and he ordered the NSA to stop. But did he tell the foreign leaders that he had done this? None of them has said so. He just hoped they would not find out. They found out. But if they understood the NSA, they already knew. Their voters have now found out.
Will anyone believe this story? I cannot imagine why. Maybe Obama did order it stopped. What possible evidence of this cessation of the spying can he offer? None. The NSA can do what it wants. Who can enforce rules?
Snowden has inflicted more damage on the American government than any civilian since Daniel Ellsberg released what became known as the Pentagon papers, a generation ago. The difference is this: Ellsberg’s release of papers was a one-shot affair. They undermined Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam war policies, but they were focused on just Johnson and the war. This had tremendous repercussions, but they were all based on an initial equivalent of a thermonuclear blast. Snowden has launched the equivalent of a MIRVed missile. Warheads keep exploding. Nobody knows how many warheads the initial missile had, which is why he is such a liability to the federal government, and why he is such a benefit to the public.
The latest brouhaha was based on the fact that the NSA has been spying on senior German and French officials. These German and French officials are fully aware of the spying capacity of the United States government, and especially the NSA. The thought that these revelations are news to foreign leaders is naïve. What is disturbing to the foreign leaders is that their own domestic populations are finding out how subservient the leaders have been to the United States government, and how defenseless all domestic populations really are. It is obvious that if the NSA can spy on Angela Merkel, it can spy on anybody in Germany.
The embarrassment that this is causing national leaders is sufficient to prod Merkel and other leaders into action. They are making verbal protests. Verbal protests are utterly useless, of course.
(For the rest of the article, click the link.)