NSA Spying Now Causes Rift with France

How many other countries are going to hate us for our NSA spying?

So far the responses of Brazil and Germany have really stood out. But now France is added to the list, thanks to more great work by Wikileaks. Consider the USA Today story, “France says U.S. must work to ‘repair’ trust after spy claims.”

French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday said his government would “not tolerate” threats to its interests after WikiLeaks claimed the National Security Agency may have spied on three French presidents.

U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry in Paris after WikiLeaks said the U.S. intelligence organization spied on the leaders as recently as 2012. Hollande also convened emergency meetings with security officials and lawmakers to discuss the allegations, published Tuesday by the whistleblower organization.

The White House said President Obama spoke with Hollande Wednesday morning. The White House statement on the call contained no hints of either apology or denial, but instead maintained that the United States has “abided by the commitment we made to our French counterparts in late 2013 that we are not targeting and will not target the communications of the French President.” That time frame comes after the events reported by Wikileaks.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the U.S. must now work to “repair” any damage done to U.S.-French relations.

What is probably going on here is that, thanks to Wikileaks, the French people now know about the NSA spying on them. I doubt any of the three presidents of France are surprised to learn this. They probably already knew it was going on. It would not be surprising if they spied on the U.S. as well.

But now that the French populace has gotten a glimpse of what has been going on, the politicians have to be outraged. In the minds of us “common people” you don’t spy on your friends; you trust them. Only enemies would hack your communications or otherwise violate your property.

But that’s the point: governments want to portray themselves as “human” when they are actually unwilling to have truly peaceful relationships the way neighbors do.

We can all sympathize with the US government by saying that they are tasked to keep us safe, and they need clear knowledge of what is going on in the world in order to keep us safe.

But it isn’t that simple.

Every time our government spreads ill will it makes us that much less safe. We may possibly need France’s friendship at some point (or Germany’s or Brazil’s, etc). Spying on a nation’s leaders while claiming they are an ally is bound to hurt our reputation with the nation’s people. And it hurts other Americans as well. This happened with Brazil when that government rejected a contract with Boeing in order to go with a company from another country. They were angry about NSA spying.

For this reason it seems not only more ethical, but safer to save the spying for our enemies.