It was easy to dismiss North Korea’s threats as the renegade dictatorship puffed its chest out and raised its voice during the first quarter of 2013. We rolled our eyes at their propaganda. They conducted alleged nuclear tests, we created memes. No civilized country would aim nuclear warheads at America. Not in 2013, with our incredible military and our powerful allies.
Err… about those allies.
As influential as America is – we live in weird times, but those saying that the US is no longer a superpower are just flat-out wrong – our government has been pushing the envelope on foreign policy of late, from wayward drone strikes to failed attempts at regulating the international prescription drug trade.
But the proverbial line in the sand may well have been crossed, if information leaked by the now-infmaous Edward Snowden is to be believed. Per the ex-NSAer, the US has been keeping a close eye on some of our closest allies. How close, and which allies? Per CNN:
“Der Spiegel said it had “in part seen” documents from Snowden that describe how the National Security Agency bugged EU officials’ Washington and New York offices and conducted an “electronic eavesdropping operation” that tapped into a EU building in Brussels, Belgium.
The magazine’s report also says that NSA spying has targeted telephone and Internet connection data in Germany more than any other European nation. An average of up to 20 million phone connections and 10 million Internet data connections are surveyed daily, Der Spiegel said, noting that the intensity of surveillance puts the U.S. ally on par with China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Another report Sunday claimed that surveillance extended beyond European offices.
The Guardian newspaper reported that one NSA document leaked by Snowden describes 38 embassies and missions as “targets” and details surveillance methods that include planting bugs in communications equipment and collecting transmissions with specialized antennae.
Targets included France, Italy, Greece, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey, according to The Guardian.”
Needless to say, the Obama administration has some serious explaining to do.
I’m not going to begin to speculate the reasoning behind such behavior – we will, in all likelihood, never know the rationale – but the ramifications for such acts could really leave the United States on an island. We should all be aware of the atrocities that America has turned its back on in the name of “liberating” the middle east (reportedly as many as 123,923 civilians have died in Iraq alone since 2003), and while our (possibly former) allies might not have agreed with our practices, we’re America. They might have despised our way of doing things, but from a commercial and political standpoint, better us all be friends and profit together than any lesser outcome.
This could officially be the tipping point, the time when mutual interest gives way to blind fury. The time when countries like Germany, South Korea and France decide that they can move forward without anything that the United States ever had to offer.
I really hope that my assessment is wrong here; this is obviously all worst-case scenario talk. As I write this, the only thing I’m really sure of is my embarrassment to call myself an American.