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The Snowden Asylum Saga


The NYT reports on the wholly expected: US application of pressure to prevent Latin American nations from granting asylum to Edward Snowden.  Why not?  First in the techniques of rendition, waterboarding, habeas-corpus suspension, data-mining, overall contempt for civil liberties, and presided over by the  “Assassination” President who authorizes aerial murder at his Tuesday evening soirees with a stellar cast of national-security advisers, all with a supine, bankrupt Left looking idly on.  With a national resume like that, the only surprise is not ordering a Special Ops mission to Moscow to kidnap Snowden.

How dare Snowden spill the beans!  Every hegemon worth its salt declares itself a National-Security State, rests comfortably with its biggest elephant in the room, its nuclear stockpile (Israel, are you also listening?), turns paramilitary operations, regime change, and economic blackmail into the fun-and-games entertainment of its Joint Chiefs, Political Honchoes, and CIA-JSOC debonair warriors, and, ear to the ground, moves in unison with the needs, ambitions, and desires of its upper capitalist stratum, itself an integral—if not paramount—part of the National-Security State.  Shame on you, Snowden: stripping away the political-legal cover for war crimes.  Twicefold shame, Snowden, for stripping away the ideological cover of counterterrorism, not only as America’s biggest growth industry, not only as the surest way of terrorizing the American public and keeping them docile, but also, as the presently most effective way of pursuing the now age-old means for achieving global counterrevolution, counterrevolution enlarged in concept and practice to include more than taking out Left movements and governments, or even Third World efforts at realizing autonomous modernization, for the biggest challenge perceived by US policy makers appears to be China (Obama’s notorious “pivot,” the Pacific-first geostrategic framework to gain predominance in Asia and hem-in Chinese development to prevent its global political-economic influence).  Snowden’s Revelations (deserving capital “R,” as a way of inaugurating a new Bill of Rights for Americans, if we only cared to listen) leaves the Administration with its pants down (cynically mooning a compliant—aka, complicit—populace), exposing the pretentiousness of Exceptionalism and Moral Rectitude by which the US knows itself (talk of false consciousness!!) in seeking exclusive direction, guidance, leadership of a world community safe for the expansion of American capitalism.

Snowden’s documents thus far released already demonstrate that the US has a finger in every pie, making it only a matter of time before that selfsame world community, especially the euphonious-sounding “friends and allies,” awakens to the recognition that all are being had, whether as “partners” in military alliances, which liberally finance the military’s status and power in each of the countries, participants in American-led international financial organizations (IMF, World Bank) which have determined domestic austerity policies compatible with US commercial and banking interests, or simply, as carrot-and-stick induced ideological soul mates, cemented in the spiritual bond of market fundamentalism, in which outsourcing clothing manufacturing to the semi-enslaved workers in poor Asian countries is deemed a crowning achievement.  We mustn’t underestimate the significance of the Revelations, which is why the USG will leave no stone unturned in seeking retribution and, more immediately, silencing the messenger.  This will also serve notice on future whistleblowers, your services are not wanted; indeed, you are really domestic al Qadea, and fair game for Obama’s Tuesday soirees off the Situation Room; you, too, may find yourself on the baseball cards dealt around the table.  Feel honored that your Leader cares enough about you to enlist the full apparatus of the National-Security State to squelch your activities, with the full help of AG Holder and DCIA Brennan, Rice leading the cheering section of “humanitarian interventionists.”  My New York Times Comment (July 12) follows, on the article about US full-court pressure applied to Latin American nations concerning asylum for Snowden:

If I could give my home extraterritoriality I would be honored to take in Edward Snowden as my guest. But of course even then USG would find a way to render him to a third country for torture–or simply shoot him on sight. In the eyes of the world America by its treatment of Snowden–as here blackmailing Latin American countries with sinister threats–stands out as the global terrorist, bully, war criminal.

The more we get tough the more isolated we become, a world pariah. That is the main thing, not the specific revelations about domestic and foreign surveillance, but the larger revelation: that the US believes it can dominate Latin America and the world at large. Thank you, Obama, for revealing your true despotic dimensions–while your fellow liberals and/or progressives look the other way, showing their contempt for civil liberties and privacy (true tests of a democracy). The Left in the US is morally bankrupt, worshiping at the feet of a Democratic Party distinguished only by its interventionist propensities and incipiently fascist opportunism. By all means, Biden, man the phones. You are a laughing stock.

Norman Pollack is the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University. His new book, Eichmann on the Potomac, will be published by CounterPunch/AK Press in the fall of 2013.

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at

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