Edward Snowden is not a common man. He is apparently carrying significant secret information about the National Security Agency (NSA) of the USA. But again, that cannot attract any great concern from anybody except the USA government albeit a small curiosity about the fate of this guy challenging the young imperial power at work since the last seventy years. Well, it is more than just this guy. It is about the American hegemony in international affairs and personal privacy of individuals. Let us discuss these with a glimpse of the possible factors involved in this game.
First, personal privacy. Where is it when you start showing the sequence leading to the birth of your baby on Facebook or Youtube? Well, that can be argued as voluntary. On the other hand, you are voluntarily giving away your private data to a company which agrees to its government for spying. And when the cause is your own safety (of course, when you reside in the USA or in a friendly country thereof), keep your mouth shut!
The other reason is about American hegemony in international affairs. It is a well-known thing, you may argue. A great power – even if you won’t agree for quality, you will certainly agree about quantity – whose greatness should lie in its upholding of the sanctity of the international treaties which it led before. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1962, says that “The premises of the mission shall be inviolable.” in its Article 22. So, did the peeping into any correspondence or information transacted through the Internet from any of the foreign mission in the USA violate international norms? Will Uncle Sam blink, and clarify this? Will the USA government approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to reinterpret the articles in an apparently changed scenario? Anyway, several decades have passed with new technologies in play, things may have been different from the point of view of our sole superpower.
But then, why is everybody silent? Well, Russia is active in providing airport transit to the fugitive, perhaps in retaliation to the USA’s Magnitsky Act or to relive the perception of old Cold War era. On the other hand, getting stranded at the airport, between the arrival gate and customs, is not a new story. Even though I clarify that it is not about a normal passenger on a delayed journey, you simply will not be surprised as there have been quite a few similar instances about several other political outcasts. Add to that, the drama has also gone deep into our popular psyche with the 2004 movie, The Terminal. The transit lounge is a great place to spend time, more so when a government provides additional comfort for safety and security. Does this not look great when a common person is not safe anywhere today?
Well, why is China silent? Perhaps, it vindicates their claim to keep information protected and filtered behind the Great Wall. The Dragon simply smiles at its consistent attempts to prevent free information flow across its borders in the pretext of security.
And, why are others silent? EU is busy working on their ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA while the latter is keeping other major powers ecstatic with the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Yeh, what about India? It’s as indifferent as before.
Lesson now. Privacy and International treaties on sale!