Saturday 1 February 2014

Why is Amnesty silent on Snowden? (Pakistan Observer)

MD Nalapat. Friday, January 31, 2014 - It was in this column in the Pakistan Observer that the world was first made aware of the fact that the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States has been snooping on non-NATO companies, mostly based in Asia but a few in South America and Africa as well. The only purpose behind such interception of data from these commercial entities is to give NATO-based corporates an unfair advantage over competitors from regions that historically have been considered as secondary. While George W Bush’s “War on Terror” has been put forward as the only reason why the NSA spies on millions across the globe, the fact is that it is the terror of losing ground to commercial competitors in China, Japan, Korea, India and Brazil that is driving the bulk of the NSA snooping programmes. President Barack Obama is implementing “Beggar my Neighbour” policies with a vengeance, the only difference being that he is working on behalf of the NATO bloc as a whole ( the “civilised world”) against the rest of the members of the global community.

That race is the basis of NATO and of US policy is clear from the fact that Japanese companies are never given the benefit of such unethical and illegal (in terms of international law) commercial espionage, although German companies are. Or that data is shared with Australia and New Zealand but not with Singapore or India. It was expected that the racism inherent in the policy of NATO, in particular the US, would get diluted because Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in the final weeks of 2008.Instead, Obama has deepened and broadened the institutional racism practised by the US and its NATO allies.

Interestingly, the Government of India has done nothing -repeat, nothing - to assist domestic companies to protect themselves against the commercial snooping done by the NSA and other NATO-based intelligence networks. In the 1960s,it was Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Asoka Mehta, another of the many “socialists” who specialised in toeing the Washington line - who vulgarly spoke of “India’s womb (needing to be) opened for the US”. His soul will be happy to see the way in which Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have fulfilled his dream. The two have systematically destroyed the competitiveness of domestic industry for the benefit of overseas - mostly NATO bloc - entities, assisted by hand-picked choices in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the relevant ministries and agencies, who have been taught since their university days that “what is good for the NATO bloc is what is best for India”. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan a few days ago further damaged the competitiveness of domestic companies in India by once again raising interest rates to “fight inflation”. Not being a moron, Rajan is fully aware that high interest rates are useless against the forms of inflation seen in India, and indeed, contribute to inflation by raising the costs of doing business. Raghuram Rajan’s interest is not the welfare of India but that of the US, country that he will return to after helping NATO bloc companies and financial institutions enter, in Asoka Mehta’s words, the very womb of the Indian economy.

Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have continued the policy of punishing the locals to benefit the foreigner which has been pursued since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, but none before them have done so as successfully and transparently as they have. Since 2004,the fetish about getting back and placing into high positions experts trained in the NATO-bloc has grown in India to a level seen in recent years only in China. There too, US-trained or EU-trained experts fill top jobs to the virtual exclusion of those trained within China, with the consequence that the economy of that country is at risk of a sharp slowdown caused by policies framed by US-EU returnees that are, Raghuram Rajan-style ,designed to help the NATO bloc at the expense of their own country. This despite the fact that the Chinese worker is among the hardest working on the globe, working as long and as hard as German and Japanese workers used to do in the past What has become clear as a consequence of the disclosures by Edward Snowden is that state and private companies across three continents need to beware of the widespread use of US platforms such as Google, Yahoo! and Hotmail.

Even top executives routinely use these tainted platforms to send and receive mail and date, thereby exposing themselves to snooping by the NSA, which clearly has an interest in ensuring that the information collected gets transmitted to companies based within the NATO bloc. Were the WTO a truly unbiased body, an appeal could have been made to it about this grossly unfair commercial usage of national intelligence agencies to secure data wholly unrelated to security threats. However, the WTO is as dominated by the NATO bloc as is the UN Security Council or the so-called International Court of Justice. What needs to be done is for countries such as Japan and India to get together and work on internet platforms that are uncompromised by the need to reveal all to NATO-based intelligence agencies in the name of fighting terrorism. India and Japan together have the skills needed for such secure platforms, the setting up of which is essential in order to ensure a more level playing field for companies based in Asia who are battling for market share with counterparts in the NATO bloc, especially in the US, France, the UK and Germany. Given the racial bias of such cooperation within the “civilised world”, both India and Japan have been excluded from the benefits of access to business-oriented NSA data. They need to retaliate not by mere statements (which in the case of both have been anodyne) but by setting up alternative platforms that can challenge those in the US.

The collecting of data on private individuals andcorporates, information that has no relation to security, is not only a breach of international law, but is a violation of human rights of populations targeted by the snooping agencies. However, dont hold your breath about any of “human rights organisations” such as Amnesty International taking up issue. These battle on behalf of NATO, not against its core objective of retaining dominance well into the 21st century.

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