Thursday, October 24, 2013

The U.S. is losing its hypocrisy advantage

The U.S. is losing its hypocrisy advantage
The deeper threat that leakers such as Manning and Snowden pose is more subtle than a direct assault on U.S. national security: They undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with it. Their danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why. When these deeds turn out to clash with the government’s public rhetoric, as they so often do, it becomes harder for U.S. allies to overlook Washington’s covert behavior and easier for U.S. adversaries to justify their own.
Our argument is straightforward. The U.S.’s private behavior is often starkly at odds with its public ideals. Because the U.S. is the most powerful state in the international system, it’s often able to get away with this. The leaders of other states know that the U.S. is behaving hypocritically, but often find it easier to say nothing about it. Leaked documents from Manning, Snowden and others are making it much harder for other states to pretend that they don’t know what the U.S. is doing. The U.S. is less able to hypocritically pretend that it’s not doing stuff that it is doing, while other states are less able to hypocritically ignore what the U.S. is doing. The result is that systematized hypocrisy is becoming a lot more costly for the U.S. than it used to be.
Soft power in declining.

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