Sunday, July 07, 2013

Too Bad The Free State of Randbeckistan

Remains on the drawing board.

From Mr. Charles P. Pierce:
And the Russian Option -- as we lapse, however briefly, into LeCarreSpeak -- always was both crazy and a longshot. I suspect Vladimir Putin has decided he's gotten whatever he can get from Edward Snowden and now it's time to remember that Russia needs the United States more than it needs to burnish its already towering historical reputation as a place of asylum for refugees of conscience. Sorry, young man, someone else needs your bench outside the duty-free now. So, unless Julian Assange can arrange to found his own sovereign nation in one quick hurry, or develop a space program even more swiftly, Snowden's got no place to go.
A WikiLeaks statement released early on Tuesday said that in addition to Ecuador and Iceland, Snowden had made asylum requests to 19 countries, including Venezuela, China, Bolivia, France and Germany. Maduro said Venezuela would examine the asylum request once it was received. "We think this young person has done something very important for humanity, has done a favour to humanity, has spoken great truths to deconstruct a world... that is controlled by an imperialist American elite," he said. At least two countries where Snowden requested asylum have said they will not cooperate. Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, said that Snowden's request did "not meet the requirements for a formal application for asylum. Even if it did, I will not give a positive recommendation." Finland said on Tuesday that it could not accept his application as Finnish law required him to be in the country. Finnish foreign ministry spokeswoman Tytti Pylkko said that Snowden had sent his request by fax to Finland's embassy in Moscow. Peskov did not detail how Snowden withdrew his asylum request from Russia. The request was handed to a Russian consular official at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport late on Sunday via Snowden's WikiLeaks handler, Sarah Harrison.In an awkwardly phrased statement released via WikiLeaks late on Monday, Snowden accused the Obama administration of "using citizenship as a weapon" and placing undue pressure on countries where he had applied for asylum.
(Wait a minute. The Guardian is getting snarky about the syntax of a press release. Do we draw from this the possibility of a split in Team Edward between the Guardian and WikiLeaks? That can't be good for Snowden, either.) Meanwhile, in the news regarding what Snowden actually did, I do not find the fact that nations spy upon each other surprising. Nor am I shocked to learn that the United States is better at it than most places. We ought to be, considering the ludicrous -- and highly classified -- amount of our money that we throw at it. And as for "Cold War tactics," I find amusing any complaints about meddling that come from the Germans, who have forced destructive austerity measures on nations all over Europe...
Nations spying on each other was an old and venerated craft since before Sun Tzu wrote about it 500 years before some Romans decided to nail a carpenter's kid to a tree for telling people to lover each other:
Chapter 13. The Use Of Spies:

Raising a host of a hundred thousand men and marching them great distances entails heavy loss on the people and a drain on the resources of the State. The daily expenditure will amount to a thousand ounces of silver. There will be commotion at home and abroad, and men will drop down exhausted on the highways. As many as seven hundred thousand families will be impeded in their labor.

Hostile armies may face each other for years, striving for the victory which is decided in a single day.  This being so, to remain in ignorance of the enemy's condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver in honors and emoluments, is the height of inhumanity.

One who acts thus is no leader of men, no present help to his sovereign, no master of victory.

Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.

Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits; it cannot be obtained inductively from experience, nor by any deductive calculation.

Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only be obtained from other men.

Hence the use of spies, of whom there are five classes: (1) Local spies; (2) inward spies; (3) converted spies; (4) doomed spies; (5) surviving spies.

When these five kinds of spy are all at work, none can discover the secret system. This is called "divine manipulation of the threads." It is the sovereign's most precious faculty.

And no less of a hard-core civil libertarian, privacy absolutist than Robert Heinlein -- who believed that any country where you needed an ID card for anything was well on its way to totalitarian ruin -- made clear that people who were shocked to discover that the Unites States had been spying -- illegally spying -- on the Soviet Union needed unbunch their panties and grow the fuck up.
Throughout history every country has striven to learn the military secrets of any potential enemy, and to protect its own. Spying is wise and necessary insurance against utter military disaster.

That we have been conducting photo reconnaissance over the Soviet Union so successfully and for four vital years is the most encouraging news in the past decade. Among other things it means we have accurate maps by which to strike back. The Soviet Union does not have to send spy planes over us to obtain similar information. Excellent large-scale maps with our military installations and industrial complexes clearly marked may be obtained free from Standard Oil or Conoco. Still better maps may be ordered by the Soviet Embassy from our Coast and Geodetic Survey at very low prices. Soviet agents move freely among us and many of them enjoy the immunity and complete freedom of travel afforded by U.N. passports. If a Red spy wants aerial color photographs at low altitude of our Air Defense installation just south of Kansas City-in America’s heartland-until recently he could hire a pilot and a plane at the Kansas City airport for about $25 an hour and snap pictures to his heart’s content without taking any of the risks of being hanged or shot down that Francis Powers took for us.

If Mr. Eisenhower had failed to obtain by any possible means the military intelligence that the U.S.S.R. gets so easily and cheaply about us, he would have been derelict in his duty.

So, if you hear anyone whining about how “shameful” the U-2 flights were, take his lollipop away and spank him with it.
It would seem to me that if holding the moral high ground for stealing an assload of American state secrets and hitting the road on a Geezers of Communism tour depends entirely of your assurance that you are doing this solely for the purpose of telling the American people how deep into their sock drawers the NSA is peeping...then dropping a fistful of dimes 
US intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret US National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
revealing the details of how the US intelligence agencies
In what will surely rile up tensions between the United States and China even further, everyone’s favorite former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed Saturday that the U.S. is tapping into Chinese mobile carriers to access customers’ text messages. 
It’s not just a few messages, either. Snowden told the South China Morning Post that the U.S. is harvesting millions of Chinese text messages. 
“China should set up a national information security review commission as soon as possible,” Snowden told the paper...
spies on other countries
The U.S. National Security Agency monitored the telephone and email activity of Brazilian companies and individuals in the past decade as part of U.S. espionage activities, the Globo newspaper reported on Sunday, citing documents provided by fugitive Edward Snowden, a former NSA intelligence contractor.
does not help your case.
But what do I know?

I am low and perverse.

I am clearly not bright enough to understand all of these complicated ideological ramifications refracting around here.

I am too slow and dim to loyally turn my brain off and Just Shout "Obot!" louder when things at the center of this large and consequential story start to sound sketchy and contradictory.

I am too dense to understand what is going on in the heads of people who can behave like cultists while screaming "Cultist!" at anyone who points this out.

But I do know that spending years planning to jump but not including an absolutely, nailed-down  Plan A, B, C, D, E, F and G with regards to a place to land betrays a certain lack of foresight.

So too bad about the Free State of Randbeckistan.

However I hear the Principality of Sealand still has baronages for sale at reasonable prices.


Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

Who are you, and what the hell have you done with Driftglass?

David Fetter said...

Mr. Greenwald and friends are promulgating the idea that spying is (or should be) restricted exactly and only to nations declared our enemies at the current instant. That this idea is beyond ludicrous in theory, although of course it is that, is mysteriously absent in discussions in the "news" on the matter. It is also, as are most libertarepublican ideas, one without a single historical precedent, and with universal historical counter-examples. When someone has established a track record of presenting ideas of this nature, we can quickly dismiss what they say. Iterated prisoners' dilemma, and all that.

mahakal said...

Robert Heinlein has been widely regarded as a fascist, sir. Now you are relying upon this foundation for your National Security State advocacy. But at least you have expressed your true view of the matter now. It is like when someone pulls out Ayn Rand in defense of their argument, and you know what kind of person they are.

Anonymous said...

"Robert Heinlein has been widely regarded as a fascist"

Widely regarded by who?

driftglass said...

"It is like when someone pulls out Ayn Rand in defense of their argument"

And when they pull out Sun Tzu? What does that make them then?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Fascists don't wear jackets like this.

mahakal said...

The Wikipedia article on Starship Troopers has a section on Heinlein's military background and political views:

"According to Heinlein, his desire to write Starship Troopers was sparked by the publication of a newspaper advertisement placed by the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy on April 5, 1958 calling for a unilateral suspension of nuclear weapon testing by the United States. In response, Robert and Virginia Heinlein created the small 'Patrick Henry League' in an attempt to create support for the U.S. nuclear testing program. Heinlein found himself under attack both from within and outside the science fiction community for his views. Heinlein used the novel to clarify and defend his military and political views at the time.[7]"

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

Heinlein's views overlapped with fascist views disturbingly often, but I don't think he qualified as a true fascist--more of an all-Murkan Social Darwinist; granted, that's usually close enough for practical purposes.

mahakal said...

Interesting that zrm's link says this: "Heinlein started out on the socialist side of things but became a reactionary later in life, which means almost his entire writing career. Like a lot of people on the right, he loves him some disenfranchisement." Okay back to ignoring him.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

arggh. That link was just supposed to go to the one with the hideous jacket, where he looks like a child rapist.

How about this.

reactionary or not, ignoring Heinlein's writing is a mistake. And for the record, reactionary is not the same as fascist. Definitions matter.

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

"Reactionary is not the same as fascist."

True, but again, it's usually close enough for practical purposes.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

True, but again, it's usually close enough for practical purposes.

Well, it wasn't when old Bob walked the earth, but considering the way the elements of the rightwing have devolved into a single mutant Hydra with several heads, I can't disagree.

but quoting one doesn't make someone a fascist OR reactionary, anymore than quoting Bilbo makes one a hobbit.

Anonymous said...

The frame surrounding this discourse is all wrong. Snowden's narcissism, Greenwald's libertarianism, who is and is not a journalist, are Republicans really fully to blame or can we smear Democrats too.... This discussion misses something fundamental.

America is undergoing a constitutional crisis that centers around the Bill of Rights. Some questions we need to ask are:

Do we still need or want our constitutionally guaranteed rights?

Are some of the rights afforded by the constitution obsolete? If so, which ones?

If the government is/has taken away habeas corpus, privacy, freedom of religion, freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom to ask the gov't for a redress of grievances, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment and is engaged in unlawful search and seizure, then, what is to be done?

Is the government even trying to outlaw investigative journalism?

During the last decade I've seen violations of our core constitutionally guaranteed rights with absolutely no consequences for those responsible.

Sadly, I don't even hear this being discussed but I did hear that Snowden's girlfriend is a stripper and that he enjoys eating donuts during and after sex.

Go figure...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Sadly, I don't even hear this being discussed

Really? Do you have a specific arena in mind?

Because, no, it isn't being discussed in mainstream outlets, at least not much.

But it is being discussed at left wing web sites. Has been since GWB was Prez.

So, do you stop at a little traveled (sorry, dg) opinion blog to complain about the content here? Or the content on the Bigs, for which DG has little responsibility?

Or is it that you want it to be all rebellion talk, now that the President has turned out to be the Magic Progressive negro that someone presented him as?

Do we still need or want our constitutionally guaranteed rights?

Are some of the rights afforded by the constitution obsolete? If so, which ones?

Those are good questions. But I think you may not be happy with the answers that the rest of America gives.

Anonymous said...

When I think upon the trials and tribulations of our present day hero, I am reminded of the saga immortalized in the lyrics of this classic tune you might remember from long ago:


"Brave Sir Robin ran away! He bravely ran away away!
When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled...brave...brave..brave..brave Sir Robin!
Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about
And gallantly, he chickened out. Bravely taking to his feet,
He beat a very brave retreat,
Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin!

Over the past week, I have seen our hero compared to in no particular order:
Ghandi, M.L.K. and of course...Jebus

In the paraphrased words of another classic:
"You people better check yourselves..before you
wreck yourselves...."