- By Hanna KozlowskaHanna Kozlowska is a fellow at Foreign Policy. She previously worked as a fixer, researcher and freelance contributor for the New York Times in Poland, and as the associate editor for Poland Today, an English-language magazine. Her work has also appeared in the Huffington Post and several Polish publications. She graduated from Swarthmore College where she was coeditor in chief of The Daily Gazette.
While the rest of the world is bubbling with (subdued) rage against the United States over reports that the NSA has been spying on their leaders, Russia is quietly rubbing its hands.
On Thursday, The Guardian reported that the U.S. had been listening in on the phone conversations of 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to information provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The Washington Post reported that Snowden also obtained documents on U.S. allies collecting data about Russia, Iran and China (that happens?!), and that the U.S. government was warning the allied intelligence agencies that this information may come to light.
The Europeans are walking a fine line, or as Der Spiegel puts it "performing a delicate dance," balancing mandatory indignation while maintaining close ties with the United States. And while Angela Merkel says "spying among friends, that cannot be," the Russians seem to be going out of their way to show that they could care less.
In a nonchalant reaction to the new revelations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday in Minsk, Belarus that the U.S. surveillance efforts will not affect ties between the two states, that "contacts [between the two countries] will never stop." He underlined that the Snowden affair is not high on the Russian foreign agenda: "We have formulated our position on Snowden and have said everything we meant to say."
Instead of expressing their public outrage, like they had earlier this week when Mother Jones reported that the FBI was investigating Washington D.C.-based Russian cultural center for allegedly recruiting American citizens as spies, they decided to sit back. On Wednesday, the American authorities were "unfriendly," on Friday, the Russians assured that they will never cease their contacts with the U.S. Why expend the energy on backlash when you can patiently wait for the U.S. to dig itself a deeper hole?
Russian English-language news outlets are dominated by stories about how the U.S. is in trouble, reporting the blasé reactions of their leaders and gladly pointing out everyone else’s annoyance — "Irritated EU leaders voice ‘lack of trust’ with U.S. after spying claims" reads a Kremlin-backed RT news service headline.
Voice of Russia ran an interview with Spencer Zifcak, a professor of human rights law at Melbourne University and president of the Australian National Civil Liberties Organization, who is predicting a menacing erosion of U.S.- EU relations. While European news outlets quote officials saying that the spying hardly came as a surprise, Voice of Russia’s expert thinks that the news "may result in dramatic changes in diplomatic ties between many countries." Prominently featured on the front page of RT is an article on an upcoming anti-mass surveillance rally in Washington D.C., complete with encouragement from Edward Snowden to join the rally and an interview with Evan Greer from the Fight for the Future campaign, whose video on surveillance inspired the protest.
Greer said that "what we do know is that the NSA and its defenders in Congress have consistently misled the public, given false information, and outright lied about this issue … What we definitely know is that these programs have had a massively chilling effect on freedom of speech and freedom of expression."
It was a pretty ironic statement, given that it was on Vladimir Putin’s favorite news website.
Yochi Dreazen is a Managing Editor for News at Foreign Policy. He is also writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security. His book about military suicide was published by Random House's Crown division in 2014.
Prior to joining Foreign Policy, Dreazen was a contributing editor at the Atlantic and the senior national security correspondent for National Journal. He began his career at the Wall Street Journal and spent 11 years at the newspaper, most recently as its military correspondent. He was born in Chicago, and later attended the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he edited the award-winning daily campus newspaper and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1999 with degrees in History and English. He was hired by the Wall Street Journal immediately after graduation. Dreazen arrived in Iraq in April 2003 with the Fourth Infantry Division, and spent the next two years living in Baghdad as the Wall Street Journal's main Iraq correspondent.
Dreazen has made more than 12 lengthy trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and has spent a total of nearly four years on the ground in the two countries, mostly doing front-line combat embeds. He has reported from more than 20 countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, Dreazen received the Military Reporters & Editors association’s top award for domestic military reporting in a large publication for a series of articles about military suicide and the psychological traumas impacting veterans of the two long wars. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Smithsonian, Tablet and the New Republic and he appears regularly on TV and radio programs such as NPR's Diane Rehm Show and PBS' Washington Week with Gwen Ifill. Dreazen gives frequent lectures about journalism, the wars and current events to both civilian and military audiences.
Dreazen lives in Washington with his wife, Annie Rosenzweig Dreazen, and their beloved Golden Retriever, Charlie.| The Cable |
Shane Harris is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy, covering intelligence and cyber security. He is the author of The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State, which chronicles the creation of a vast national security apparatus and the rise of surveillance in America. The Watchers won the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the Economist named it one of the best books of 2010. Shane is the winner of the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. He has four times been named a finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, which honor the best journalists in America under the age of 35. Prior to joining Foreign Policy, he was the senior writer for The Washingtonian and a staff correspondent at National Journal.| The Cable |