Saturday 15 June 2013

US policy-makers ignore the Bible

M D Nalapat

Friday, June 14, 2013 - Among the many valuable tips to civilised human behaviour found in the Bible is the precept to “do unto others what you would have them do unto you”. Looking at the shrill US reaction to reported Internet hacking by Chinese entities, it is clear that the US is allergic to any country doing to it what it routinely does to others. Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, has revealed in a British newspaper, The Guardian, that the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US has daily been collecting details of voice calls and email from countries across the world. Both India and Pakistan figure in the list of the countries most affected by such activity. India, where both the intelligence agencies as well as strategic analysts almost always follow the line set for them by the major NATO member-States, has thus far ignored the reality of hacking by the US and by its allies, following the script given to them, which is to focus exclusively on China as the sole source of internet hacking. Certainly Beijing will be guilty of such activity, but nowhere on the scale of Washington.

Given the stakes involved, the pressure on The Guardian must be enormous, so as to either present only a vetted version of the rest of the data that Snowden would have supplied them, or stopping the revelations altogether. Hopefully Snowden will ensure that other publications too gain access to the data he has submitted to The Guardian, including newspapers in India as well as China and Russia, three countries outside the constraints that invisibly operate within NATO member-states. Within the bloc, it is axiomatic that whatever the military coalition does is just, while their targets are evil. Hence the relative silence of the Kerry-Cameron-Hollande trio to the manner in which Recip Tayyip Erdogan is dealing with protestors in Ankara and Istanbul.

The “human rights” groups, which promote the agenda of NATO, such as Human Rights Watch, are passing off the police action in Turkey as inconsequential from the view of stifling democratic dissent. A Human Rights Watch official helpfully suggested on CNN that as the police were not actually shooting at the protestors, what was there to complain about? Thus, discrimination against the Shia in Bahrain or some other GCC states is ignored, it being effective NATO policy to punish the Shia community in West Asia for the fact that Iran is overwhelmingly Shia. The consequence of the defiance of the mullahs in Tehran of NATO has been a steady rise in attacks on Shia and discrimination against them, all to silence from NATO member-states who daily lecture other countries about “justice” and “freedom”.

Turning to cyber-snooping, credible individuals in Washington say that the NSA program is not simply about security but about commerce as well. They say that in the name of security, snooping takes place on companies in Asia and that data from them is stolen and finally passed on to US and EU corporates. Because of the trove of sensitive information they secure through officially sponsored cyber-interception programmes, US and EU companies often succeed in prevailing over their rivals from countries such as India, the country which is the fifth biggest target of the NSA’s snooping. Interestingly, this using of cyber-interception for purposes of commerce is precisely what the US accuses China of doing. Clearly, being itself the predominant player in the game, Washington knows the value of hacking to the success of local companies.

Indeed ,Osama bin Laden’s terror attack of 9/11 has turned out to have some positive spinoffs for Washington. Using the excuse of the “War on Terror”, Swiss and other offshore banking entities have been forced to reveal details of the secret bank accounts of VIPs across the globe. It is difficult to believe that US authorities will resist the temptation to trawl offshore banking systems for data on policymakers in other countries. This data can then be used to blackmail such policymakers to introducing measures which harm their own enterprises for the benefit of US and allied entities. 

This columnist has always been a bit nonplussed about the manner in which successive governments in India have fashioned policies which discriminate against locals in favour of outsiders. Now that the Snowden revelations have become public, it is clear as to some of the possible reasons behind such reprehensible behaviour. India’s policymakers, several of whom have secret bank accounts abroad as well as other assets, are most likely nervous of disclosure and therefore eager to please US authorities. The NSA ha clearly got data on VIPs across the world, including -almost certainly - details about their personal lives that could prove embarrassing if made public. It is clear that those policymakers who annoy US interests face the risk of having salacious as well as financial details revealed to media, thereby terminating their careers. Use of technical means to run a global snooping program on the scale revealed by the Snowden revelations indicates that the US has become the single biggest hacker in the globe, most likely bigger than the next three hacker countries put together.

It is amusing therefore that it is Washington that most loudly complains against the very behaviour that it itself egregiously engages in. Even India, a country whose policymakers go to extremes to ensure compliance to NATO directives, to the extent of allowing US and EU corporates crucial advantages over domestic enterprises, is targeted by Washington for so-called “unfair trade practices”, when in fact the reverse is the case. Clearly, for US policymakers (most of whom daily and loudly swear by the Bible), it is not a case of doing unto others what they wish others to do to them, but doing unto others exactly what they seek to prevent others from doing unto them. The next time those responsible for actions such as those described by Edward Snowden go to church, they need to ponder over the gap between what the Bible teaches and what they themselves practice.

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