Over the last few months, we have witnessed the domestic reaction to the NSA probe revealed by the likes of fugitive turned celebrity Edward Snowden. Recently, the scale of the NSA monitoring has become increasingly exposed, with reports of NSA officials watching high-level officials of other nations, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Close allies have also raised concerns with the spying probe being illuminated, straining the Obama Administration’s relations with countries such as France, Brazil, and Mexico.
What was once more of a domestic case of privacy has now spiraled into a larger international problem. The possibility of conflict depends on how the Obama Administration will attempt to reduce tensions. So far, the administration seems to be sidestepping questions of how the President was not aware of such invasive practices being used to monitor high-level government officials in our allied nations.
Let’s face it: As George Orwell once imagined in his classic book, “1984,” it is not hard to conceptualize a United States run by a Big Brother-esque government. It is no secret — that with the increased reliance on technology and the interconnected world in which we live in via the web, the government’s capacity to spy on us is easier than ever.
We live in a country that has generally embraced an exceptionalist attitude and made it quite evident that we seldom answer to anything or anyone else.
I, for one, am not at all startled by the willingness of our government to go above and beyond in its strategies to collect “intel.” We live in a country that has generally embraced an exceptionalist attitude and made it quite evident that we seldom answer to anything or anyone else. Who cares how other countries feel about us spying on their foreign affairs? In our view, we seem to know what is best for them, even when they do not.
We monopolize the global economy and often times proudly accept that our nation is the policing power of the world. This mentality reminds me of an old mystery film in which a jaded detective is willing to break the rules in order to “pursue the greater good” — even if such a compromise involves illegally searching someone’s trash for clues, or slipping into a private office to look for incriminating evidence.
Allow me to be clear: What I think the NSA has done, both domestically and internationally, is unethical and wrong. However, I do not find it unprecedented or surprising. In fact, I believe the American people allow this intrusion to occur; they may even subconsciously encourage and support it. People are often willing to sacrifice privacy for the sake of security, liberty, and comfort. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this issue is that it has come to light. Our intelligence agencies have done a good job of classifying their collected information. Considering the extent to which we are willing to monitor the world, perhaps it is in our best interest as a nation to continue to do so.