A question on espionage
Germany has now arrested two intelligence employees on suspicion of spying for the US, and is expelling the top CIA official in Germany, a high-profile rebuke. The Germans are so outraged about the spying that they have brushed off Obama's requests to resolve the dispute through private diplomatic channels and are insisting on conducting the whole conflict in public. They are openly talking about taking broader countermeasures against US intelligence-gathering. This is the worst breach between the two countries that I can remember.
(My greatest disdain, I must say, is reserved for those who want to blame Edward Snowden for revealing the spying rather than the NSA for conducting the spying. The problem is the unethical activity, not the whistleblower who lets us know it is happening.)
My real question is, what good is all this spying doing anyway? It doesn't seem to have given us any advance warning of any of the important things that have happened lately. The US government didn't seem to know in advance that Putin was about to invade Crimea. It didn't seem to know in advance that ISIS was going to launch a major offensive and seize much of northern Iraq from the US-backed Maliki government. It didn't seem to know in advance that Hamas was about to launch a new terrorist onslaught against Israel. It doesn't seem to have any more of a clue than anyone else where Boko Haram is keeping all those abducted schoolgirls. I guess it does know whenever Angela Merkel orders a pizza, but if all this spying isn't giving us any special or in-advance knowledge of things that actually matter, what good is it? Yes, espionage is necessary, but can we at least focus on trying to cover hostiles more effectively and stop spying on allies, which makes them justifiably angry and creates conflict for no reason?