Four-Star Connection: From 9/11 to Edward Snowden
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 26, 2013
Summary: Why speak of a connection between 9/11 and Edward Snowden? The 9/11
incident of September 11, 2001, was the most horrifying act of terrorism
in history. It was the most anti-American single act in history. The
current US manhunt for Edward Snowden is the most appalling human rights
violation by a government in the Internet era. The U.S. government
argues that it is using Internet spying to fight terrorism. This leads
us back to 9/11.
Full Text below:
Why speak of a connection between 9/11 and Edward Snowden? The 9/11 incident of September 11, 2001, was the most horrifying act of terrorism in history. It was the most anti-American single act in history. The current US manhunt for Edward Snowden is the most appalling human rights violation by a government in the Internet era. The U.S. government argues that it is using Internet spying to fight terrorism. This leads us back to 9/11.
The 9/11 incident had its roots in Arab and Islamic world hostility toward "American civilization." The Snowden incident exposed the dark underside of the American system of constitutionalism and the rule of law. The 9/11 incident was an example of Samuel Huntington's international "clash of civilizations." The Snowden incident is an example of an international, Internet "clash of civilizations." The content and form may differ. But both represent landmark "clashes of civilizations."
Between 9/11 and the Snowden incident, we had the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the 2007 Wall Street financial crisis. All four events are links in a chain. All are acid tests of America's democracy and free market economy.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks earned severe global reprimands. But the United States should also ask itself why the murderers harbored such hatred for the United States. For a long time, the United States, with its powerful military, has been engaged in an unequal conflict with vastly weaker civilizations. No Arab or Islamic country can resist the power of the United States government. But terrorists have broken out of the framework of state to state military conflict. Their conflict is not part of a nation vs. nation conflict. Instead, it is a person vs. person conflict. It is asymmetrical warfare between the weak and the strong.
Bush Jr. invaded Iraq. He turned a person vs. person conflict back into a nation vs. nation conflict. This is where America has the advantage. But this also provoked intense controversy. Afterwards, facts proved that the U.S. military invasion of Iraq was an act of naked aggression, rationalized by lies about "weapons of mass destruction." Seven years later, when U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq, they left behind an Iraq in ruins, spiritually and physically. They left behind hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans. When America sent troops over there, it may not have realized it would inflict even more harm upon Iraqi than Saddam Hussein. It left behind powerful doubts about America's "civilization." One. How could America spout such lofty moral rhetoric, yet initiate on such a lose-lose war of aggression? Two. How can the United States' boast about its advanced democracy, yet countenance such flagrant abuses of power by George W. Bush and his cronies? Three. Was the invasion of Iraq really nothing more than a "misunderstanding" between civilizations?
These events were followed by yet another "civilizational misunderstanding." In 2007, the financial tsunami struck Wall Street. Too much freedom and indulgence in the financial markets aided and abetted unscrupulous Wall Street vultures. These vultures devised pyramid schemes that caused many the world over to lose everything. Families were shattered. People perished. The very foundations of the nation were shaken. This extreme form of capitalist [mercantilist] "civilization" was nothing more than a meat grinder. The US government's rule of law could not prevent this horrible disaster. American civilization could not prevent the Wall Street vultures' barbaric conduct. The financial tsunami shook many peoples' faith in "capitalism." It undermined many peoples' faith in the marketplace. Today the impact of the financial tsunami continues to be felt. The question in many people's minds is, "Is this really civilization?"
Snowden exposed the Prism Surveillance Program for what is was -- unbridled and brazen criminal conduct by the US government. Ironically, some have compared Snowden to Chen Guangcheng. In order to silence Chen Guangcheng, Beijing virtually sealed off Dongshigu Village. This led to denunciations by democracy activists, foreign and domestic. Eventually a hapless Beijing handed Chen Guangcheng over to the United States. The Beijing regime lost face. Now however, the US government's Prism Surveillance Program ordered the world's largest information technology companies to conduct "stability maintenance" programs at little political and monetary cost to itself. This enabled the US government to keep its hand clean while engaging in illegal activities.
The U.S. government granted Chen Guangchen political asylum. Meanwhile, they have done everything possible to extradite Snowden. This too invites questions about what constitutes "civilization." One. What are the America's core value? Are they the US government's "right to rule," or are they human rights? Are they freedom, democracy, and a long list of other values? Two. Can the US government violate the spirit of the US Constitution and order civil servants, including outside consultants, to violate human rights? Do whistleblowers have the right to disobey and reveal the truth? Three. Suppose state power has a "clash of civilizations" with human rights. Is a country such as the United States really more "civilized?" Will it treat Edward Snowden worse than Beijing treated Chen Guangcheng?
In recent years, the U.S. has been sliding downhill. Its military might is increasingly inadequate and unreliable. Take for example, the invasion of Iraq. Even more importantly, its ethical foundations are being called into question. Take for example, the financial crisis. The US may have the Prism Surveillance Program to prevent a recurrence of 9/11. But such programs undermine the United States' image as a model of civilization. This is not a question concerning a nation's power. This is a question concerning a nation's soul.
America is still a free and democratically ruled country worthy of respect and emulation. But somewhere between 9/11 and Edward Snowden, it arrived at a turning point. Can American civilization reform itself? Can it validate itself? This question concerns the very nature of civilization.
2013.06.26 04:34 am