i came across this line that i use as a title for this article some one or two month ago in a gif at reddit. i have to say that i was rather amused by the statement than shocked or irritated. the same is true for the entire issue of what is now known as case wikileaks-snowden- manning &co.
with all the talks and news coverage on snowden going on in the past couple of weeks, i cannot help myself but wonder why everybody is so upset. i myself am absolutely not surprised. and i seriously wonder why so many people are. i do understand, that the actual “knowing” based on facts, figures and proof, is different from the kind of “knowing” that is just based on a feeling – but if suspicions get proven right, why should i be surprised about it? shocked maybe. appalled, yes. but not surprised.
also, i have to admit that i was rather pleased to hear that offices of the european union and governments were subject to spying as well as private citizens. i do understand that the basics of state diplomacy go out of the window with that notion and also that the probable reaction to it will be an even more closed door-secrecy-policy rather than an opening to the public and to other nations, but how fair would it be if only the private person was subject to inspection as if they had more to hide than a government?
to me, it was a particular pleasure to follow the outburst of certain european governments on the news that us-american institutions were collecting data and information on them. and while they were printing one statement after the other stating there shock, i was just waiting on the headline saying that these states were doing exactly the same thing. my patience was rewarded and it turns out the only thing governments are indeed upset about is that the us-american information technology is so much further in their development and so much better in their efficiency than their own.
i can only imagine how putin must have felt, laughing at the rest of the world, knowing that he has always been accused of playing foul games when it now turned out that he is the most sincere of all, for he never made this kind of game a secret in the first place.
governments collect data. it is an important tule for ruling the state they are governing. and it is and even more crucial factor in handling affairs with other states. while i agree to the notion that the collection of information gets faster and more detailed – which to be frank is the mercy and the curse of technology – i refuse to believe that this is a new phenomenon. it is not something someone came up with after 9/11, it was not nixon who was the first one to think about or do it – he was just the first one to get caught, and it is no time for finger-pointing at governors and state representatives, for i dare to bet that every single person being in their position would do exactly the same thing. haven’t you ever gotten an information on a co-worker? your boss? your neighbor? a lover? to win an argument, to impress them, to get what you want? haven’t you ever collected data if you wanted to make a statement? or haven’t you ever talked to somebody who knows someone to know how you should interact or react to that someone in a given situation? governments are doing the same thing. they ask foreign correspondents and academic specialists on regions and conflict situations to be able to judge how to act. they collect information on people within their country to be able to get a grasp on what is happening within the borders they are responsible for in the name of state sovereignty and whether anything could threaten the balance of the state or their hold on power. and its the same thing states do on the stage of international relations.
declaration: i have no data to support my claim, other than the knowledge of political science and the experience of being a critical thinking person who likes to observe people and their behavior. so i want this article to be understood as my opinion and only my opinion.