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US Moral High Ground Completely Gone As China Demands US Stop Spying On Its Companies

from the nice-going,-nsa dept

Some people forget this, but the day before the very first of the Ed Snowden revelations, there were plenty of headlines about how President Obama was about to meet with China's President Xi Jinping, with a major focus of the talk being about how Obama wanted to the Chinese to stop their "cyberattacks" on US companies. An anonymous "senior White House official" was quoted at the time saying:
"We expect this to become a standing issue in the US/China relationship. We believe that all nations need to abide by international norms and follow the rules of the road and that means dealing with actions emanating from your territory."
Right. So, the very next day was the beginning of the post-Snowden era, and over the weekend we get the not-all-that-surprising news that the NSA hacked into Chinese firm Huawei. And, of course, today comes the inevitable angry demands from Chinese officials that the US "explain" itself over these allegations, and that it stop hacking Chinese companies.

While much of this is just expected diplomatic posturing, and there's little doubt that both countries regularly hack into each other, the US's holier-than-thou attitude over this whole thing is looking more and more ridiculous over time. As we discussed a few months ago, it's certainly not a surprise that the US is hypocritical, but much of its diplomatic success has been because it could get away with being hypocritical and pretending that it actually had the moral high ground. That's less and less possible now that the US's activities are more obvious than before -- and that limits the ability of government officials to actually pressure other countries into changing.

Of course, the obvious answer to this would be to stop being hypocritical and to actually live up to the ideals and concepts that we preach towards other countries. However, so far the US government has shown little evidence that it's moving in that direction -- and the end result are days like today, when the US government gets scolded by the Chinese, and has no moral leg to stand on whatsoever.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Defund The NSA, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 2:17pm

    Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    http://www.salon.com/2014/03/24/u_s_surveillance_state_missed_russias_crimea_plans/

    MONDAY, MAR 24, 2014 10:26 AM EDT
    U.S. surveillance state missed Russia’s Crimea plans

    U.S. spy agency mass surveillance has been revealed in recent months as troubling as it is totalizing. However, a story highlighted in the Wall Street Journal this morning illustrates that the steep uptick in U.S. spying efforts and capabilities since 9/11, while systematically invasive of ordinary citizens, fails in its ostensible role to survey geopolitical machinations of adversarial world powers.

    Every communications datum within and going out of the U.S. is hoarded by U.S. spy agencies, but Russian plans to invade the Crimean region were totally missed. As the WSJ noted, “intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn’t intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders or soldiers discussed plans to invade.” The titanic force of U.S. eavesdropping serves to surveil us all, but appears to have failed at the most basic directive of giving early warnings for significant geopolitical events. [...]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    that was maybe because russia was contractually allowed to station up to 25.000 troops there anyway and has never exceeded that amount, not even now.

    There was no invasion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    Heck the whole reason Russia can get away with everything in the Ukraine is because the USA no longer has any moral high ground. Iraq and Afghanistan can attest to that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    What has occurred is a very strange secession/invasion hybrid, though I can't exactly blame the Ukrainian PM for not wanting to fight over Crimea.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 2:29pm

    Of course, the obvious answer to this would be to stop being hypocritical and to actually live up to the ideals and concepts that we preach towards other countries.
    Spying on everybody is necessary for protecting those ideal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    "There was no invasion."

    You're playing semantic games. There were troop movements inside Crimea and outside. There were naval movements. There were air force movements. There were communications between commanders in the field and Moscow. There were communications between diplomatic officials in the field and Moscow. There were ALL KINDS OF THINGS that, ostensibly, we pay the NSA to notice, document, analyze and report.

    But they were too busy spying on Americans to notice what was going on in/around the Ukraine.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Mar 24th, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    Here's the fun thing that most people aren't talking about in Crimea: Russia is (actually, for once) not doing anything wrong.

    Crimea's inclusion in Ukraine was an accident of history, a Soviet-age screwup that's really only been at all relevant since the fall of the USSR split Ukraine off into its own distinct country. But the vast majority of the people in Crimea are ethnically, linguistically, and culturally Russian, not Ukranian, and they voted to break away from Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

    Knowing this, it's difficult to find fault in Russia's decision to step in and provide protection for the Russian people living in Crimea during the recent turmoil. And the US's decision to rattle sabers over it is a bit baffling; as near as I can tell, we don't have a dog in this fight. Why are we acting like we do?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    hutcheson, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 2:41pm

    Why No Warning: Edmundovich Snowdenski Reveals All

    Apparently Moscow was only planning to shoot people, not do anything really dastardly--like share music or video with them.

    But it is not too late! Even now, all the power of the Obama administration can be harnessed! Call your lobbyist today! Tell him to get out the word: THE RUSSIAN SOLDIERS MAY BE LISTENING TO UNLICENCED MUSIC!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    Because the terrorism excuse is running thin on the public and America needs a "big bad" to justify it's spying and military spending

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    zip, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    "we don't have a dog in this fight. Why are we acting like we do?"

    I think one influential factor in this war-drum & chest beating is the military-industrial complex, salivating at the prospect of another Cold War -- which many companies would undoubtedly profit from.

    For instance, the Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor, America's most advanced fighter aircraft, was recently cancelled, in part because its intended function -- to project air superiority in a war against Russia -- was seen as too unlikely to justify the high cost of continued production.

    That decision is now likely to be reversed if the M.I.C. and its supporters can successfully demonize Russia for the so-called Crimean "invasion" -- just watch the campaign dollars flow to all the vocal warmongers in Congress.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 3:27pm

    One thing I've learned over time. If the US is blaming some country over something then it is something the US is already doing.

    The NSA is spending so much time on US domestic communications and shutting down known programs to reopen unknown ones they don't have time to do their real missions they were to do. Once again showing they aren't really interested as much as claimed about foreign events. They are instead afraid of their own populace.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 5:23pm

    what doesn't help is when other countries follow the same sort of line, all be it voluntarily i suspect, int he majority of cases, as the USA and then try to justify itself when things go shit-shaped! it isn't just the USA that is hypocritical, not by a long chalk!! have a little look over the pond

     

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  13.  
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    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Mar 24th, 2014 @ 9:11pm

    Who needs it?

    Who needs a moral high ground? Just repeat after "pappy" Alexander: "Do as we say, not as we do."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2014 @ 2:59am

    Boy I hope the Chinese demand the UK do the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2014 @ 6:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    America became a superpower on the back of the Cold War. It's been slipping in recent years and this is the kind of thing it needs, if you listen to the Far Right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 25th, 2014 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    Except for the whole "violating the Budapest Memorandum" thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 25th, 2014 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    "as near as I can tell, we don't have a dog in this fight. Why are we acting like we do?"

    Because we promised the Ukraine that, in exchange for them giving up their nuclear weapons, we would protect them from events like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Gerald Robinson (profile), Mar 25th, 2014 @ 10:09am

    NSA spying

    NSA is supposed to spy on foreign powers that is its purpose after all. I say to China "Turnabouts fair play!"

    NSA's Utah data center should be defunded and their budget cut drastically as well as top officials being prosecuted for clearly illegal spying on US citizens.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Mar 25th, 2014 @ 6:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ukraine & Russia - NSA Fails Again

    Except for the whole "violating the Budapest Memorandum" thing.

    As Colbert mentioned, the Ukranians forgot to specify "no backsies".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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