While a certain level of international espionage is to be expected amongst countries without concrete relationships, should the same go for nations that are longtime allies? Thanks to the oft-maligned NSA, the United States is learning the hard way that invading your friends’ privacy is bound to blow up in your face.
Recently, three trusted allies of the United States have discovered that they aren’t so trusted after all. Here are three of the diplomatic relations messes in progress:
The NSA stands accused of routinely spying on our neighbors to the south, specifically the government officials. The security agency was able to hack into the emails of then-president Felipe Calderon, as well as other members of the Mexican Cabinet. Among Snowden’s recent leaks is an email from President Enrique Pena Nieto that discusses potential Cabinet selections a month before he was elected.
Unsurprisingly, Mexico is super displeased with this breach of trust. “This practice is unacceptable, illegitimate, and against Mexican and international law,” declared Mexico’s foreign ministry. “In a relationship between neighbors and partners, there is no room for the practices alleged to have taken place.”
Brazil’s government has similarly been the subject of the NSA’s watchful eyes. Though diplomatic relations between Brazil and the Untied States have been fine, Brazil believes it was targeted for “economic motivations.” Specifically, evidence shows that the NSA gathered extensive intelligence from emails and phone calls on Petrobras, an oil company owned by the Brazilian government.
The fall-out from the revelation is nothing to shrug at. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff cited this surveillance as his reason for canceling a trip to Washington D.C. last month and instead speak harshly about the American spying program to the United Nations. “Tampering in such a manner in the affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and is an affront of the principles that must guide the relations among them, especially among friendly nations,” Rousseff said.
America’s friendship with France is facing a test now that news that the NSA widely spied on the country has emerged. In just a single month, the NSA gathered more than 70 million emails and other forms of digital communication from France.
Secretary of the State John Kerry is currently in France for unrelated matters and is expected to meet with officials to discuss the latest leak. In the meantime, French official Alexandre Giorgini has cast a warning: “These kinds of practices between partners are totally unacceptable and we must be assured that they are no longer being implemented.” The interior minister has also made it known that this infringement will “require explanation.”
Although Edward Snowden’s leaks have given these three countries specific evidence of spying, the United States is almost certain to face questions from many of its allies. If the United States is watching its friends like France and Mexico, it’s not much of a leap for allies to believe they are having their non-threatening communications monitored as well. Worse yet, it’s probably an even safer assumption for enemies of the United States to believe they are being spied on given how they treat their own allies.
Though the NSA was established with the supposed intention of offering “security” to the American people, it’s time for the United States to face the reality that the no-limits surveillance program is doing more harm than good. Over time, broken relationships like these will make the United States a more vulnerable nation than terrorist threats ever could. There’s no use in taking drastic measures to thwart enemies if the United States is just creating more enemies in the process.