The Edward Snowden case has revealed how the US and its satellite, the UK, have (most unsportingly) been spying on the embassies of 38 allied countries, and on the European Union in Brussels, as well as in its offices in Washington and New York. It has also shown how a lot of Europeans are mastering the art of acting indignant, without the least merit to justify it.
The details that have been appearing in The Guardian and Der Spiegel debunk the fallacy of the NSA and its acolytes, to the effect that we don't appreciate the favor the Americans are doing us, or feel suitably thankful for the terrorism deaths thus prevented. Particularly brazen is the industry shown by certain voices, dismissing the natural indignation most of us feel, and calling for indulgence on the grounds of the protection given us by secret laws that have permitted indecent, unjustified conduct.
The Snowden leaks show serious violations of the right to privacy in communications, which is protected in every democratic constitution, and the cynical use of arguments that are assumed to be above challenge. This is the same rhetoric used by torturers who point to the lives saved by entirely unacceptable procedures. The end does not justify the means, not now, nor in the days of the Inquisition. And we can hardly do otherwise than attempt to reconstruct the sequence of events, to identify the sinister turning point when the authorities opted for what they have supposedly always been dedicated to preventing.
Questioned about cyberespionage, our defense minister, Pedro Morenés, recalled Franklin D. Roosevelt's remark that, without moral leadership, no other kind of leadership is acceptable. We can expect Snowden's American lawyers to point this out in his defense. Meanwhile, honesty among friends implies honest admission of abuses, and calls for some sort of proportional reparation, in the awareness that if not prevented, these methods will spread - all the more so, when they are employed by those whose supposed leadership demands unimpeachable conduct.
It is demoralizing to hear the US secretary of state, John Kerry, dodging the news media's questions about the data-trawling practice
It is demoralizing to hear the US secretary of state, John Kerry, dodging the news media's questions about the data-trawling practices Snowden has revealed. Especially when he hides behind the claim that, in his view, such information-gathering on other countries "is not unusual" in many states of the world. To argue that all countries interested in international relations carry out such activities to protect their national security, including obtaining all the information that may help to defend it, amounts to saying that those who abstain from such practices are merely irresponsible.
The United States must choose between being a defender of democracy, or a defender of abuses on the grounds that others do it too. Of course, little can be expected of the meeting the American diplomats held with the chief of EU diplomacy, Catherine Ashton, in the sultanate of Brunei. It is easy to imagine the zero emphasis she employed in conveying the indignation felt in many EU countries, if we keep in mind the role played by the United Kingdom.
The reasons for which any country ought to be proud to offer asylum to any and all defenders of rights and liberties, persecuted in their countries of origin, are the same as those for offering asylum to Edward Snowden.
We have seen how China is unwilling to compromise its relations with the US. The possibility that our benefactor may be looking at a future in Ecuador or Venezuela makes it clear how shamefully we have deserted him. But in this case we cannot look the other way - just as when we see populism, seasoned with xenophobia, raising its head in some EU states. We have to stand up against it, or be swept up in it.