I have a word of advice for American allies outraged by alleged NSA spying on their leaders: Grow up. That means you Germany. You too France. And you, Brazil. Mexico too. Also the EU and the UN.
Does the NSA spy on your leaders? Probably. Do you spy on leaders of allied states including the United States? Probably. You just don’t have the resources or capability to spy as effectively as the NSA does. But if you did, you would….
He says — and this seems most likely — that foreign leaders’ “outrage” is largely ersatz, concocted for domestic consumption. Because their constituents don’t know this is business as usual.
The Wall Street Journal had a piece in a similar vein this morning:
The French outrage is especially hard to take seriously given that Le Monde reported this summer that the French intelligence agency DGSE maintains its own robust data-collection program on domestic and foreign targets. “Le Big Brother français,” Le Monde calls it. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright noted recently that the French were eavesdropping on her private conversations when she was U.N. ambassador in the 1990s. “This is no surprise to people,” she told a conference in Washington. “Countries spy on each other.”…
The danger now is that President Obama will try to placate his U.S. liberal and (former) European fan club by agreeing to sweeping restrictions on the scope of NSA activities. If so, Mr. Obama will have let Edward Snowden set U.S. security policy, compounding the considerable damage the leaker has already done. The price paid in missed intelligence will be paid again in lost lives.
You may dismiss all this, coming as it does from conservative sources.
But this dismissive view of the “outrage” seemed pretty much the consensus in this explainer that NPR did today. That, in fact, is where I learned about the Boot piece. Except NPR was less concerned than the WSJ, at the end of the piece, about the potential negative impact if we cut back on spying on allies, quoting Georgetown professor Charles Kupchan as saying:
The United States would have somewhat less information in its diplomatic quiver, but we could certainly live if there were to be an agreement with our friends to cut this out.