Edward Snowden became the subject of much controversy and debate, both here in the US, and abroad. In an article published on 3 December on the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research News & Analysis section, Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz seeks to answer the fundamental question: is Snowden a hero or a traitor? Further—since many have stressed the fallout of Snowden’s actions—Dr. Chodakiewicz addresses the cultural roots of the Snowden phenomenon.
This is not to cheer the defector but simply to point out that the phenomena undergirding the Edward Snowden case will continue to metastasize predictably, linger painfully, and haunt us into the foreseeable future. Yet, this awful affair affords us an opportunity to have a long, merciless look at the perpetrator, ourselves, and the damages wrought on the nation. It enables us to pinpoint the sources of our weaknesses and suggest remedies. The disaster invites us to delve into the business of spying. Above all, it prompts us to posit a moral question: Is Snowden right?
Every American has a right to dissent. Snowden’s actions perhaps could be seen as legitimate, where the United States of America is perceived by many as an evil entity creeping toward soft totalitarianism. According to this Occupy Wall Street-cum-McVeighish narrative, with its overweening government, the U.S. violates natural law by promoting pathologies at home and abroad, oppressing its own citizens, and targeting foreign nationals for global social engineering schemes incongruent with their civilizations. If it does not get its way, Washington invades or otherwise rains violence and destabilization upon the rest of the world. Although America remains a constitutional republic, its democratic conduct at home and abroad reflects the will of its people exercised through their elected representatives to enable and condone such policies. In this narrative there is much to dislike about America. Enter Snowden. Either he opposes America with all its flaws and virtues, or he objects to the forms that have lately sprung from our system. The latter is legitimate.
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