Monday, July 1, 2013

The Ignorant Hubris of US Officials

Like a despondent child after being caught doing something she wasn't supposed to do, former NSA chief Michael Hayden argued that the agency's spying on European Union officials, both in the US and Europe, should not be seen as a big deal because European governments are doing the same thing. In addition, Hayden stated that non-US citizens are not protected by the the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and thus they can be spied on at will.

And so, panicking US officials quickly threw their European allies under the bus in order to shield themselves from criticism. This shouldn't come as a surprise, especially given the revelations by Der Spiegel, from which we learn that the US doesn't really see much of Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom, as an ally – the leaked documents reveal that most EU nations, such as Germany, are viewed as "3rd party foreign partner[s]."

What is particularly interesting about these disclosures is that they reveal a not so thinly veiled cultural prejudice on the part of US officials. In fact, the only countries that are viewed as privileged allies are english speaking and primarily anglo-saxon: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. In addition, the lame defense offered by Michael Hayden shows either his complete ignorance or blatant disregard for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which, as an international treaty, supersedes the US Constitution. Article 12 states:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Aside from showing how the US government sees foreigners as second class human beings, the debate that is currently taking place inside the United States on this issue is also showing the world the US's self absorbed insularity. Completely oblivious of the fact that the entire world is now watching us and waiting for an explanation, if not an apology, US president Barak Obama put his foot in his mouth by saying that the NSA spying program "does not apply to U.S. citizens, and it does not apply to people living in the United States.” As if telling the rest of the world "we only spy on you" is supposed to make them feel better.

In this regard Arthur Silber argues that this state of affair is all by design and, in fact, it should not come as a surprise to anyone who truly understand how this world works; I emphasize this because it is not the only manner in which it can work, even though those who would like to keep it this way tell us otherwise. And so, it is now in the open that those managing the American Empire follow the Machiavellian maxim according to which, if one must choose, it is better to be feared than loved. This, of course, also applies to American citizens, which is why Obama and clapper lied when they said that the NSA does not spy on Americans, and also why their minions came out saying that it was legal after the lie was exposed.

Yet, Macchiavelli also argued that one "must endeavour only to avoid hatred" and this, unfortunately, is an aspect where the US is failing spectacularly and which, in the end, may bring its own undoing unless, of course, we all perish in the process as the hubristic managers of the US imperium may still choose to bring everyone else down with them.