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A Plank in the Eye

By: Ryan Hildebrand - Jul 6, 2013, 10:31 pm

The current “big” international debacle appears to be related to the movements of Edward Snowden, former contractor to the United States’ National Security Agency. He initially left United States’ soil for Hong Kong, with information pertaining to the National Security Agency’s PRISM program (which collected information on American citizens clandestinely and without warrant or discretion). Now in Moscow, he sits in political limbo in an airport terminal but without a passport. He has requested asylum in more than twenty different nations, with the hope that he would not be extradited back to the Unites States to face charges of espionage.

Caught in the middle of this fiasco, intentionally or not, is Bolivian President Evo Morales, who recently visited Russia for a diplomatic summit.

Upon returning to his home country, his presidential plane was supposedly denied access to airspace over a disputed number of European countries, forcing it to land in Austria, where it was thoroughly searched. The Morales administration harbors no love for the United States, particularly over the War on Drugs, so one can easily connect the dots and see what occurred in this incident: The chief executive of a nation with poor relations with the United States was harassed at that country’s request by nations within its sphere of influence (those of Western Europe, in this instance) in order to find someone whom is considered a liability.

What is really being lost here is that the numerous diplomatic faux pas by the United States are more than just casual, petty words or propaganda. This is the intentional restriction of an individual’s right to free movement, particularly one not even a citizen of the United States and outside of United States’ territory. So much effort and concentration has been focused upon Snowden that what is truly at stake here (the right of the American people to transparent governance and other nations’ sovereignty) is being passed over, casually even. It is a true debacle, and the Obama administration should be ashamed of themselves.

The United States likes to market itself as the “Land of the Free,” but it now stands on strong footing with its imperial predecessors, such as the British Empire (which has a program similar to PRISM to track its citizens), the imperial Chinese, and even Rome itself. The behavior towards other nations, which it at one time considered “American brethren” in the Western Hemisphere, is appalling. I am no fan of collectivist regimes such as Morales’, but that does not mean I (or anyone else, for that matter) has the right to harass them. The United States is all stick, no carrot here.

In fact, in reaction to this altercation, Bolivia, along with Nicaragua and Venezuela, has now offered Snowden asylum, if only to spite the United States. Frankly, I do not blame them at all. What they would do with Snowden is a whole other story, and I would be suspect of going to some of these places if I were him. Although, it is rumored that he as of now cannot leave Putin’s Russia anyway.

The United States needs to return to its core values and respect other nations, their leaders, and the right to free, unharassed movement, and give up on the fool’s quest of detaining Edward Snowden. The horses have already galloped out of the stable, so there is no need to bother closing the doors.

Ryan Hildebrand Ryan Hildebrand

Dr. Ryan Hildebrand is a college instructor in New Orleans, Louisiana, and co-host of The Neo and Wim Show. You can follow his personal blog, NOLA City Blues, and his Twitter @NOLACityBlues. Read more of his featured PanAm Post column, "Self-Ownership."