But first of, where does this leave the US with its international relationships? Tensions have increased most definitely, especially after the German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused the American government for tapping her phone on Wednesday, October 23rd. Therefore, this has set the American government on difficult terms with its allies.
However, the document obtained by “The Guardian” explains that the NSA surveillance on world leaders asked for assistance of other officials in the United States to do so. As of October 25th, there is still no official statement by the United States’ government in response to the allegations by its allies; for it is not just the German government demanding for an explanation.
The French President, Francois Hollande has also questioned the American government for surveying the phones of various French citizens, and the Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta demands for an explanation. So, despite the actions committed by the United States government, there is still no official statement; and nevertheless, it has stained its relationships with the European Union.
Setting world leaders aside, the reports provided by Edward Snowden state that billions of people worldwide are being surveyed by the NSA seeking for information on terrorism, politics, and economics. However, it suggested that the activities committed by the NSA increased during times of national fear in the United States; for instance: during the government of Richard Nixon at the height of the Red Scare (when the Western Democracies spread fear for the Communist Sphere of Influence during the Cold War,) the Nixon administration increased the activities of the NSA to ensure that national security could be preserved. Other examples of these behaviours would be the controversial ideals of McCarthyism in the 1950’s, where American citizens were under constant surveillance for anti-American behaviours and any sort of support for Leftist idealism. Therefore, these policies follow the pattern of attempting to consolidate national security at the expense of certain privacies of the national citizens of the United States.
In more recent American history, events like 9/11 and the Occupy Movements have raised the flags for the American government to follow up those practices to attempt and preserve national security. Certain policies like the Patriot Act have been enacted in order to address the recent issues that American society is dealing with. However, the question still remains: is it justifiable to intrude the privacy of citizens and other world leaders in order to consolidate national security?
There are several aspects to be kept under consideration, for in this particular case study, the American government is responding to its contextual fears and worries by enabling the NSA to survey people. And by understanding the contextual fears, it appears to be rational for it to respond in such manner. However, whether the fear itself is rational or not is the root of the argument. For instance: conceptually the War on Terror suggests armed warfare against an abstract idea. In addition, the values of people’s privacy and national security are very difficult to contrast, thus positioning the rationality of either response in a very delicate position.
In addition, Francois Hollande claims that it is common for governments to “eavesdrop each other;” however, the extent to which the American government is doing appears to be unreasonable. So, up to what point is it alright for a government to intrude privacies? With this perspective added, there are various perspectives to understand the degree of concern that the American government and its activities through the NSA represent for other international powers, but at the same time, it explains the common practice of espionage of international affairs. Nonetheless, the underlying values of individual privacies still remain, and these values conflict with the values of national security which represent the main concern that leads to the intrusion of privacy.
Ultimately, the activities of the NSA have only created greater tensions between the U.S. and its allies, as well as developing more concern for individual privacies.