By David A. Shirk
Paraphrasing Bismarck: in statecraft, there are no amigos, only interests.
This truism of realpolitick has been underscored by revelations in recent months that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been tapping the electronic and wireless communications of its closest allies, including Mexico. Documents released this summer by Richard Snowden, a former-U.S. government contractor now living in exile in Russia, provide evidence that the NSA gained access to the official public email addresses used by the Mexican president and other government agencies, as well as the private communications of then-candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and his nine closest collaborators.
The NSA wiretapping scandal has provoked outrage around the world because of the apparently indiscriminate nature of the intrusions, but reactions have also varied. Germany has arguably been the most vocal critic, after learning that NSA tapped the official cell phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel. France declared the NSA practices “shocking” and “unacceptable.” Brazil, too, has voiced strong objections, and has even considered retaliating through trade measures, particularly after learning that NSA intelligence gathering appears to have served U.S. economic interests. Russia, of course, thumbed its nose at the United States by offering Snowden a one-year visa and, recently, a job.