16 July 2014

A question on espionage

By now, most people who follow the news are aware that the NSA's spying has caused a serious breach between the US and Germany, the most important country in western Europe.  The NSA surveillance in Germany -- a NATO member and close ally of the US, remember -- was so comprehensive that even the personal cell phone of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, was tapped.

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?


Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Spot on. In addition, we've managed to anger a valuable ally and make ourselves look like paranoid bullies.

Obama needs to do some investigating.

16 July, 2014 07:07  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Obama needs to stop screwing around and reassure the Germans that spying on allies will come to a screeching halt immediately, before the damage gets worse. German public opinion is turning hostile to the US and some are even talking about moving closer to Russia. This is a disaster.

17 July, 2014 04:26  

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