Planetary Convulsion Over U.S. Spying (Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Russia, Germany, Austria, France, The Netherlands, South Korea)
As is clear to be seen everywhere except in America’s mainstream media, our planet continues to be in turmoil over the NSA surveillance programs exposed by Edward Snowden. Below is a selection of work we have done over the past few days – and does not include content that is originally in English, all of which is posted on the Worldmeets.US home page.
We begin in Latin America, where the most recent Snowden leaks have originated, and where Washington, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy are being lambasted for forcing down the aircraft of a head of state:
So much for the fig leaf that U.S. defenders of NSA surveillance have been using – that unlike China’s military, the agency only targets information about terrorist and military threats. This latest bombshell from Brazil’s O Globo, headlined NSA Targeted Latin American ‘Trade Secrets’, describes NSA documents that outline the agency’s activities in Latin America, which included collecting data on energy and petroleum industries in a number of countries:
“One aspect that stands out in the documents seen by O Globo is that, according to them, the United States doesn’t appear interested in military affairs alone, but also in trade secrets – ‘oil’ in Venezuela, and ‘energy’ in Mexico, according to a list produced by the NSA in the first quarter of this year. … the NSA collected data on petroleum and military acquisitions in Venezuela, and energy and narcotics in Mexico.”
So – What drives Washington to do the anti-democratic things it has done over the past few years, from Guantanamo Bay, to water boarding prisoners, to ignoring customary diplomatic law and forcing the aircraft of a head of state to land in search of a young whistleblower? For Bolivia’s Pagina Siete, in an article headlined U.S. Fears, Not Evil, Motivate Desperate Search for Snowden, columnist Meridiano Fernando Molina laments the fear that drives the United States, and the fact that while understandable, it is a neurotic reaction that has given a boost to those on the Latin American left who assume the worst of the United States:
“Beyond the shock Morales may have suffered, this episode has given a great boost to his politics: not only does it allow him to appear on the front line of the global anti-imperialist struggle, but it confirms his deepest convictions: If things are going badly, it is the fault of the empire. Therefore, the reasoning goes, to improve the situation, nationalist states must be strengthened so that they can better cope with this powerful and criminal outside power. This is a bad day for liberal Bolivians.”
Next up, an article that reflects Bolivian outrage over the unprecedented forced landing of President Evo Morales’ aircraft. For El Nacional of Bolivia, in an article headlined South America Must Take Stand Against Old Europe, columnist by Pedro Godoy Perrín writes that a price must be paid for the ham-fisted attempt by Spain, Italy and France to capture Edward Snowden by forcing down the plane of South America’s first indigenous elected president:
“This was not a snub of Evo Morales, but of Bolivia, and by extension, South America. This was Old Europe, which despite decolonization, continues to feel like it owns the planet. Even if it were true that Edward Snowden traveled in the president’s plane, the principle of sovereignty prevails. … Closing their airspace to Evo Morales’ aircraft chalks up yet another shameful insult by Italy, France and Portugal.”
Onto Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro was the first head of state to unambiguously offer Edward Snowden asylum. With Venezuela looking like Snowden’s best hope, what is behind the Maduro government’s musings about helping the young former NSA employee? For Venezuela’s El Universal, in an article headlined Maduro Uses Snowden Asylum to Distract Venezuelan People, columnist Francisco Olivares writes that there is one thing on the mind of the heir to Hugo Chavez: distracting people from the horrific state of Venezuela.
“What is really behind all this is the urgent need of ‘Madurism’ to distract people from their real concerns. While the government is busy creating information bubbles, insecurity continues to harvest victims in the streets, with more than 400 homicides in June alone, the continuing rhythm of nationwide blackouts several hours a day, services like drinking water shut off for days, the shortage of many products, and increases in the cost of living are now a daily part of the anguish for Venezuelans.”
Moving to Snowden’s current location, Russia, we have translated two articles over recent days.
In an article headlined Servile Europeans’ Inflict Huge Insult on Evo Morales, Izvestia columnist Edward Limonov writes that after having taken the unheard of action of denying Bolivia President Evo Morales overflight rights in Europe out of suspicion Edward Snowden was on his aircraft, France, Spain and Portugal at best, look like eager servants of the United States.
“In decades of observing international relations, I cannot remember such an outrageous case. Presidents of sovereign states have international immunity, and presidential immunity has up to now been unswervingly observed by U.N. members. … It appears that without our noticing, a new age of lawlessness has begun. The slavish servility of Western countries to the United States is simply despicable. … My God, these Europeans are obsequious sons of bitches!”
Even Edward Snowden must be surprised at the tremendous impact his actions have had on global affairs. Now, it appears, according to this news item from Russia’s Kommersant headlined Snowden’s Presence May Scuttle Obama’s Visit to Russia, it has come to light that President Obama’s appearance at the G-20 in September, and a special summit in Moscow beforehand with Vladimir Putin, may be in jeopardy:
The prolonged stay in Russia of American intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden threatens to aggravate relations with the United States. A source close to the U.S. State Department has made clear that Barack Obama could cancel his trip to Moscow planned for early September if by then the former NSA employee is still in Russia. However the Kremlin has assured Kommersant that the White House has not presented it with any ultimatum, and that preparations for the summit are going forward.
On to Germany, where memories of the secret police are still fresh in the minds of many. In this article from Germany’s Der Tagesspiegel headlined Merkel Ignores the Nightmare of ‘Stasi Squared’, columnist Stephan-Andreas Casdorff expresses shock at the nonchalance of German Chancellor Angel Merkel, in the face of what he considers to be outrageous and dangerous violations of German law and democratic decency:
“German politicians either don’t understand, or prefer not to understand, what’s at stake. But can this really be true? We are dealing here with the workings of a ‘Stasi’ squared, a Big Brother such as the world has never known. Hollywood productions are nothing by comparison. A government that spies on, investigates, and listens to billions and billions of people without their knowledge, that bugs all political and other E.U. institutions, in order to know everything – and that cannot really call itself a democracy. That should be obvious, especially in Germany.”
Much more from Germany on the Worldmeets.US home page. Onto Austria we go.
Far more incredible than a Hollywood thriller, the saga of Edward Snowden is certainly exciting enough to satisfy any fan of the thriller genre. However, as columnist Thomas Seifert of Austria’s Wiener Zeitung writes in his article headlined Edward Snowden is No Enemy of Our State!, in Snowden’s case, unlike at the movies, there are serious consequences that require a united European response, which should have included offering Edward Snowden asylum:
“The Snowden affair is certainly exciting for fans of the thriller genre, but the political consequences are serious. First of all, there is the sad realization that the U.S. appears to consider Europe an enemy, because one doesn’t spy on friends and allies in such a brazen manner, to the point that even politicians from E.U. countries have been tapped. … Europe should have offered Snowden asylum. That would have been the suitable response to America’s attack on European interests. The fact that Russia of all places could be an asylum country for Snowden is yet another oddity in the bizarre Snowden thriller.”
Then for Der Standard, in a column headlined Mass NSA Surveillance Implies Bizarre Presumption of Guilt, Christoph Prantner, the most disturbing part of the international surveillance state is what it ‘presumes’ – and even worse, he writes that the ‘protection of freedom and democracy’ that this monitoring is supposed to provide is more likely to lead to the opposite:
“The whole point of the PRISM story is not that U.S. intelligence is siphoning off the data of Europeans. Rather, it is that large portions of the Internet’s traffic are monitored and evaluated, legally although completely illegitimately, under some bizarre presumption of guilt. While ostensibly for the sake of protecting freedom and democracy, any such protections are marginal at best. The opposite is more likely.”
Now for France, where, like Germany, the hypocrisy is so thick, you could cut it with a knife.
Among French officials and lawmakers, the reaction to news that the NSA has been spying extensively on them has been intense. According to this news item from Le Monde headlined French Political Class Holds ‘Outrage Contest’ Over NSA Spying, responses range from calling for extreme measures like withdrawing from all treaties with the United States until an agreement on personal data protection can be reached, to chocking it up to experience and moving on with little adieu:
“François Hollande referred to the free trade agreement, implying that it cannot be reached if U.S. espionage on E.U. officials did not cease ‘immediately.’ … Green member of the European Parliament Daniel Cohn-Bendit argued for the need to ‘terminate all agreements’ between the E.U. and U.S., including negotiations for a free-trade deal, to force our U.S. partners to ‘negotiate an agreement on the protection of personal data.’ … Arnaud Danjean, chairman of the Security and Defense Subcommittee of the European Parliament, criticized ‘the European competition to be the most outraged by American espionage, which he considers naive and ‘a bit pathetic.'”
The hypocrisy on all sides of what encompasses the Snowden affair is well-illustrated by this Le Monde editorial headlined French Big Brother is Watching You!, which outlines that the French secret services may be worse than the NSA in terms of the invasiveness of surveillance. The day before, Le Monde broke the story about the practices of France’s General Directorate for External Security. The newspaper worries that in France, unlike the United States, legislative and judicial scrutiny are sorely lacking.
“It isn’t only the U.S. government that has developed a gigantic apparatus to spy on all of its citizens and beyond. Paris has done the same. … In America, the system comes with a semblance of legislative and judicial scrutiny. That is nothing like France. … By nature, any government aspires to control. This demands countervailing powers, parliaments and judiciaries, to hold in respect the immense power over our lives amassed by government. In France, judging by the silence that has greeted our investigation, that doesn’t sit well.”
Then from Elsevier of the Netherlands, in a column headlined Snowden’s Revelations are of ‘No Benefit to Society’, Reinoud Ottervanger is one of the few people anywhere in the world outside of the United States to express criticism of Edward Snowden:
“The consequence of the Snowden’s action is an even more intense collective suspicion of one another, governments and businesses. In this era of extensive individualization, this is of absolutely no benefit to society. … One of the side effects of a democracy is that everyone surrenders a little freedom (including privacy) through legislation, with the ultimate aim of being able to enjoy a safe society. … The beauty of this system is that the obedient citizen has nothing to fear.”
We finish with something from South Korea. I suppose someone was bound to ask this question – but the fact that it comes from South Korea is somewhat of a surprise. For The Hankyoreh, in an article headlined What Hugo Chavez Would Say about U.S. Surveillance, reporter Lee You Ju-hyun, harkening back to 2006, when the fiery Chavez delivered his famous ‘El Diablo’ speech about George W. Bush, imagines would Chavez would have said and done about the case of Edward Snowden and the NSA’s global surveillance:
“What would Chavez have said if he were watching Obama’s sophistic defense of surveillance by the U.S., a country that draws on overwhelming power to infringe upon the human rights and democracy of people around the world? I think he would have said something like this: “Obama, I thought you were just a glib talker, but it turns out that you’re no different from that devil who preceded you. I sense a whiff of hell’s sulfur from you, too!”
READ MORE TRANSLATED and English-language foreign press coverage as the NSA surveillance story continues to unfold, at Worldmeets.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.