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From A Land Of The Free, Home Of The Brave To The Big Bad Bully: A History Of USA’s Hypocrisy!

By Somay Munde:

“Land of the Free, Home of the Brave”– that is how USA likes to proclaim herself in the popular terms. Lately, the US homeland is neither free nor brave. The hypocrisy of US started with its proclamation of independence, when founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson famously quoted that “All men are born Equal” while he owned a number of slaves who worked in his plantation farms, with almost 4 million slaves being exploited even after 90 years of the famous proclamation. This is in sharp contrast to the abolition of caste hierarchy and universal adult franchise in India (which according to West, a primitive, uncivilized society which needed British help in “appropriate socialization”) upon Independence.

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Land of the Free?

This is the country which fought civil war and took almost 90 years after independence to realize that the colour of a human being is only skin-deep. This is the country which wages war merely on suspicion. This is the country which has no qualms about overthrowing a popular local leadership in a distant country due to difference in ideology. The blatant violation of international law is testimony to the transgression of its own ethos. The use of international organizations in collusion with other “developed” nations for forwarding its own interest is no more news. The international law, which she so blatantly flouts, has been used to bring many a differing countries to their knees, latest example being Iran. The history of post- WWII is rife with constant meddling of USA in the internal affairs of others to further its own interest. The Korean war, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iran, Cuba etc. have been victims of direct interference of US, many more suffered indirectly. The latest example of this Great American Hypocrisy is the “PRISM” programme run by NSA.

Famous political philosopher Thomas Hobbes of the enlightenment era theorised a form of Social Contract theory, according to which, absolutism of sovereign was best fitted to a petrified society. He said that man formed societies by surrendering some of his rights, which he enjoyed in “state of nature”, in return for security which lacked in wilderness. He further professed that the fear of unknown further compelled the common man to surrender even the basic freedoms in return for hope of a secure future. The words of Thomas Hobbes fit best to USA today. The War on Terror and fear of unknowns (Iran, Korea) has help US further its control on Fundamental Rights of not only foreigners but its own red, white and blue citizens. The unchecked, all-encompassing surveillance by NSA of its own citizens amounts to subjugation of basic rights of its citizens. What started with the enactment of the Patriot Act is now leading to the professed absolutism of Hobbes.

Home of the Brave?

The days of US administration crying foul over alleged hacking of its cyber infrastructure by Chinese hackers are not far away. The pretense given by the United States for this intrusive nature of the surveillance does not hold for the recent revelations by NSA whistleblower Snowden. The intelligence gathering mechanism set up and used excessively under the veil of War on Terror has now come to light for the entire world to see. What escapes everyone’s logic is how surveillance of US’ natural allies, who have supported US in all of their misadventures in Middle-East or elsewhere, by the NSA has any significant intelligence gathering on terrorist activities? What reason can there be for taking a step which could lead to a diplomatic disaster? US must have significant reason to believe that the terrorist activities are somehow carried out in the embassies of EU nations, or US is simply relying on these tactics to gain a upper hand in several ongoing negotiations. The former one seems preposterous simply on the face of it.

The logic given that 9/11 was planned inside Germany, one of EU members, hence it gave right to NSA to carry out surveillance is another way of hiding behind the ever so present excuses of War on Terror. True that the 9/11 was conceptualized in Germany, but how on earth will the bugging of an embassy prevent such attacks in the future? Surely the 9/11 was not planned inside any embassy. The only logical conclusion to this perverted exercise is equally perverted motive behind it. Numbers of international agreements, treaties, MoUs are signed by countries with each other. Many of these agreements being strategic in nature are based on principles of legitimate negotiations. The surveillance carried out by a participant country can give the said country an asymmetrical advantage at the negotiation table. For example, Indo-US nuclear treaty of 2008 could have gone hugely in favour of US had they known already the extent to which India was willing to compromise for NSG’s exemption. It is very likely that US could have done all this by bugging the Embassy in Washington. The refusal of EU to go forward with Trans-Atlantic treaty after the NSA revelations is one of the manifestations of the aforementioned apprehension.

The need of the moment is for all the nations to unite against this transgression of sovereignty of the foes and friends of US alike under pretext of War on Terror. It is of utmost important for all to tame this dragon in its infancy if we are already not too late. It will be huge folly to dismiss and take a nonchalant attitude towards this like the way our own Foreign Minister dismissed these reports by stating NSA surveillance as mere “computer study”. Our only hope is other nations with a back-bone would not bend as much as Salman Khurshid did ever so willingly.

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  1. Raj

    USA-bashing is in vogue today. While many things in USA are crappy today, it still stands out as one of the world’s most freest countries.

    – Clearly you know nothing about the history of USA. USA was a revolutionary experiment in its day. For the first time in history could the poorest hope to own a piece of land without begging the monarchy and have a say in the affairs of their country. Today we take owning land as trivial. It was near impossible for vast majority of the populace back then . If you are an ordinary citizen without vast amount of money or political connections, and you own land you should thank USA for starting that trend.

    – Slavery was abolished in many US states especially in the North and by 1860 more than half the states had abolished it. USA fought one of the most bloodiest war against its own white countrymen in order to free the slaves in the south i.e. the Civil War. It’s sad that you forgot to mention that.

    – What was India doing in 1700s and 1800s? It was a regressive cesspool of bad old ideas. It was thanks to the Western Enlightenment and the progressive thought process of the British that helped India. It is incorrect to compare USA in 1776 and India in 1947

    – Many other countries including India conduct surveillance against its own citizens and other countries. What hold just the USA guilty for this? It’s not ideal and USA could potentially misuse it but its hardly a point to harp on.

    – What should India have done? Become smarter and used better technology while sending and receiving messages. This is not new. The USSR’s KGB had penetrated far deeper in to our system than NSA ever could. We should have learnt from that.

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