Recent revelations that the American National Security Agency (NSA) might be eavesdropping on the cell phones of leaders in 30 countries has caused a lot of anger in these countries specially given that a lot of them happen to be US allies. I am absolutely against this given the fact that we always scream about Chinese espionage and if someone were to be eavesdropping on President Obama’s mobile phone there would be a big hue and cry!
Looking at the other side of the coin, however, I see some benefit coming out of this disclosure. You might ask how? Well here goes my explanation; it is a generally accepted fact that there are corrupt politicians in India (and around the world). Since it is now public knowledge that the Americans have been spying on political leaders around the World, I would also presume it is a given that there would be Indians in the midst (India being a US ally). Well I am hoping that the Indian politicians would think twice about their crooked deals knowing that someone is eavesdropping on their conversations about the deals that they are cooking up. I look at this snooping to curb some of these stealth deals!
Also, these leaders in India (and rest of the world) have figured out that the Americans have a hard time keeping a secret i.e. Wikileaks, Snowden etc. so if they have done something really crooked then there is a strong possibility that there is a tape or video of it with the Americans and it will ultimately get out and the Indian media will have a field day with it. It could give some of these folks a pause.
The only flaw in this possible argument could be that these political leaders do not care about what comes out about them (except during elections) but on the other hand if the Indians want to know which politician has money stashed in Swiss banks, then do not ask the Swiss ask the NSA or one of their whistle-blowers!
Your thoughts are welcome.
Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee) and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.