As of this writing, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is currently hiding out in Moscow and is seeking asylum in at least 20 countries as he continues to dodge U.S. extradition efforts. The fact that much of the world is ignoring U.S. demands to extradite Snowden reveals that America's hegemonic power may be waning and that this decline is a welcome development for the future of individual liberty and international peace.
For at least 70 years, and especially in the last decade, the U.S. government has morphed into the largest and most extensive global power the world has ever known. Using a foreign policy based on the combination of "bombs and bribes," the U.S. achieved its political interests abroad by spreading the wealth stolen from American taxpayers on obedient dictators or threatening those that didn't comply with the most expensive and technologically advanced war machine in history.
The Roman Empire in its heyday may have had the ability to seek out and crush dissidents with its imperial umbrella, but still did not possess the global hyper-power that the U.S. does. As columnist Will Grigg puts it, "Not even Caligula, Commodus, or Diocletian had the ability to kill their enemies by remote control from half-way around the world."
But global American power has been built on debt, borrowing, deficit-financing, heavy taxation, and inflating away the American middle class, a combination that, like Rome's, can not be sustained forever. As the U.S. not only continues this path, but expands upon it with ever increasing military budgets and interventionism, the world is perhaps beginning to see that America's threats are empty.
Edward Snowden's Paul Revere-esque moves around the globe have helped confirm this loss of hegemony. China ignored requests by the U.S. to extradite Snowden, and despite the hysterical calls of Congress to "punish" Russia, Vladimir Putin — while less than enthusiastic about holding Snowden — appears to enjoy annoying the U.S. and is doing nothing while Snowden waits in Moscow.
While rumors of Ecuador granting Snowden asylum were a mistake, Ecuador has a recent history of standing up to U.S. meddling. They have granted Wikileaks' Julian Assange, a man that American officials have publicly desired to be assassinated, asylum and protection. When President George W. Bush wanted to put a military base in Ecuador, President Rafael Correa agreed only on the condition that Ecuador get to put one of their own in Florida. Bush quickly backed off.
Europe too is openly defying the American empire. While in Dar es Salaam yesterday, President Obama defended the mass surveillance of European diplomats, arguing that is "standard practice" and would continue despite protests by European leaders. This type of arrogance and dismissiveness has led to political leaders in Germany and France to urge their countries to grant Snowden asylum.
What Snowden has done is not only reveal the details of a massive, covert surveillance program, but like a domino pushed just a bit too hard, is encouraging others to exhibit a similar type of courage. Standing up to history's most expansive and hegemonic power takes the guts of a libertarian whistleblower seeking justice and truth with little regard for the potentially deadly consequences, and undoubtedly others are taking notice. The U.S. can huff-and-puff all it wants, but one can only bully others for so long before others finally start to stand up and fight back.
While Americans soak in the humanitarian rhetoric and propaganda forked off the tongues of their supposed leaders, the rest of the world sees a very different face to American power. The Founders envisioned a republic that would lead the world by example, a model to others on what a free society looks like. Now all America reminds most of the world of are the buzz of a drone strike, sanctions, aggressive war, an archipelago of military bases, JSOC death squads, and puppet dictators.
President Obama's recent Africa trip is a perfect example. While peppering crowds with talks of economic development, not a word was mentioned about Obama's covert, shadow wars in Africa, new drone bases being built in West Africa, and the president's saber-rattling against China and their growing economic influence in Africa.
Like the whistleblowers that have come before him, Snowden's defiance in the face of a government that claims the right to kill anyone at any time around the world might just be the spark that weakens America's imperial military power by urging others around the world to emulate Snowden.
The mainstream media, eager to distract from Snowden's revelations, mock him for his supposed hypocrisy in hiding out in authoritarian countries. But all states, cemented in their power to initiate lethal force, are authoritarian by nature. Other than in a handful of city-states like Hong Kong, Monaco, Luxembourg, and pockets of the U.S., there is virtually nowhere where the rule of law reigns.
But didn't the American revolutionaries enlist the help of the French monarchy — no friend of liberty — in their fight against the British Empire? Snowden is simply seeking safety from an even greater hegemon in his desires to expose it. China and Russia are undoubtedly incredibly brutal regimes, but their violence is limited mainly to their own borders. The U.S. is a global aggressor, proudly disregarding international law while condemning others for lesser crimes. How can one not cheer on Snowden and the withering of a tax-guzzling empire that threatens our liberty and prosperity?
Snowden's defiance and the near worldwide rejection of U.S. demands may well be seen as one of the turning points in the future of American history. The American empire won't collapse, but poke enough holes in something that bureaucratic and top-heavy, and it begins to lean. Our ancestors fought for independence from a corrupt empire, and as the Fourth of July approaches, perhaps this generation can begin their independence from one as well.