Beneath All This Surveillance Controversy Is The Unexamined Notion Of American Supremacy

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I’ve been watching Tucker Carlson a lot lately, not because I find his worldview particularly palatable but because he’s been pushing hard against the official narrative in the Russiagate controversy, which often gets its promulgators to overextend themselves and reveal where they really stand. Last night he had on a Democratic Congressman named Brad Sherman, who despite having voted against the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping and bulk data collection has come down on the side of Susan Rice and the Obama administration on the “unmasking” and surveillance controversy. The interview is first up on this video here:

Sherman attempts to argue that since it was actually people in other countries being surveilled, the fact that the Trump campaign wound up being swept up in that foreign surveillance is not in any way troublesome. Carlson pushed back saying it’s a known fact that the government will often use this loophole to surveil US citizens by spying on foreign bodies they’re known to interact with, but both Carlson and Sherman seemed untroubled by the core assumption underlying their debate that obviously the US government needs to be surveilling other nations constantly.

And that’s really what’s at the root of all this, if you look at it. Trump has maintained a very pro-surveillance position both before and after the election, Obama spent eight years expanding the surveillance state, and before him George W. Bush really got the ball rolling in the Orwellian direction while conservative pundits like Tucker Carlson cheered him on, all under the premise that in order to make itself secure America has to have its fingers deep in the communications of governments around the world, including its allies. As a consequence, the United States now has a very banana republic-esque system in which incumbent power is able to legally spy on its political opponents’ communications with people in other countries and anonymously leak its findings to CIA-funded outlets like the Washington Post.

Everyone’s cheering on the notion of keeping America’s surveillance networks balls-deep in the affairs of all other nations at all times under the assumption that they’re the good guys, and as a consequence democracy has been dealt a fatal blow. Whatever your opinions about Trump, the fact that incumbent power can and will legally spy on its political opposition in America should trouble you; you are unable to use your vote to effect change unless the people you want to replace incumbent elected officials never ever say anything in private that they wouldn’t want the public to hear. I don’t know about you, but in the privacy of my home I say things every day that would make a sailor blush; I’d never be able to run for office if the people propping up my opponent were able to leak my dark sense of humor to the Washington Post if I started making gains in the polls. This will be the case for anyone running for office who wants to make changes, regardless of their political party.

This is all made possible by the unquestioned notion that it’s both acceptable and necessary to surveil other countries, even at the expense of American democracy. This notion of American supremacy, that it’s okay for America to do stuff like this but not other countries, really needs to be examined because it’s hurting Americans worst of all.

It’s the same with election meddling, military provocation, foreign intervention; these things are fine as long as the US does it to someone else, but definitely not okay if it were to be the other way around. US meddles in France’s election? So what. But even an unproven hint of it happening to the US gets called an act of war.

Even little ole me gets pummelled on the daily for being an Australian who has the gall to talk about American politics. Apparently we’re not even allowed to talk about you guys, even though your intelligence programs and your trade, military, banking and environment policies and your foreign interventions affect everyone on the planet because you are the most powerful country on Earth. But we’re not allowed to have an opinion about you apparently, that’s out of bounds. This is from citizens from a country which will regularly change out another country’s leader on a whim, often leaving the country in question as a war torn dustbowl, unsettling families that have to find asylum all over the globe, and throwing surrounding countries into uncertainty. You’re allowed to change our leaders, but we’re not allowed to even talk about you? No. Don’t be silly.

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Noam Chomsky recently said that American people are the most safe and the most frightened in all the world.

But here’s the good news: this assumption of American supremacy upon which all consent is manufactured for these startling acts of evil is in the minds of most everyday Americans. This is not a switch the elites can flick on and off at will if everyday Americans start thinking about their fellow earth-patrons as regular people who can and should govern themselves, in privacy, without prying eyes. Even if they’re bad guys. I mean, you guys have a bad guy in the Whitehouse right now — would you like us Aussies to come over and bomb the crap out of you and install our puppet leader of our choice, just to, you know, help you out? We could change all your money to dollarydoos, and rape your women and torture your young men, and get you back on track.

No? I didn’t think so. The world would really be okay if you just left it to its own devices, America. The terrorists don’t hate you for your freedom, they hate you because you have military bases in their backyard and you keep killing their family members. If you just left the rest of the world alone, it would leave you alone. To be perfectly honest if it weren’t for all the awesome Hollywood movies you keep churning out and the TV shows you’ve got on Netflix, we’d pretty much forget about you most of the time. You don’t need to concern yourself with which leader is a dictator, who we’re voting for in our elections, what trade agreements we make and what we’re saying on our phone calls. If you leave the world alone, it will leave you alone.

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Just think about all the amazing things you could do with all that money, resources and energy you’re expending on making sure the rest of the world is behaving. And you wouldn’t have your leaders spying on their political opponents anymore! How great would that be?

Thank you in advance,

The rest of Planet Earth.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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