The desperate U.S.-UK relationship: Barack Obama, David Cameron, and the NSA/GCHQ issue

“We can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them.”

Titus Livy

Over the past months, media commentary on the massive and aggressively intrusive electronic collection effort being mounted by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, GCHQ, has focused on the constitutional issues raised by the two governments’ wanton violation of the personal privacy rights of hundreds of millions of their citizens. And this surely is an important aspect of the problem, although the Obama administration clearly has no use for the U.S. Constitution in any venue, preferring to simply enforce the laws it likes and let the rest molder, while simultaneously shredding the 4th Amendment and attacking the 1st and the 2nd Amendments. That Eric Holder and Barack Obama have not been impeached, moreover, suggests that the impeachment provisions of the Constitution are a dead letter; that they apply only to individuals named Nixon; or that they do not apply to Black Americans supported by such towering giants of fatuousness as Oprah, Chris Matthews, Fareed Zakaria, Piers Morgan, and Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and their band of American-killing Viragos.

But there is an equally important dimension of the NSA-GCHQ issue that has been discussed not at all either by the media or by the politicians in all U.S. and UK parties that abet the lies of President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron. Leaving aside the illegality of the collection for a moment, let us focus on the most basic motivation for the on-going, vacuum-like collection operation; namely, the UTTER DESPERATION engendered in Obama and Cameron by their being aware that much of the Muslim world is now either at war or supporting war against the West, and that the Islamist enemy is beyond their ability to control or contain, let alone destroy.

Obama and Cameron have followed the lie-strewn path toward the West’s destruction first blazed by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Obama and Cameron greatly exaggerate the supposedly disastrous impact of Bin Laden’s death on al-Qaeda and the Islamist movement, while, like their predecessors, maintaining that fountain of falsehood that spews forth nonsense about the motivation of the mujahideen being their hatred for liberty, Budweiser, freedom, and Iowa’s primaries. As this deceit flows, the Islamists and their war on the West have become much more popular in the Muslim world, as witnessed by their astounding geographical expansion and manpower growth since 2001, as well as by their easy defeat of the U.S. and British militaries in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama and Cameron also know that their unquenchable thirst to intervene in the Muslim world has yielded lethal results for their own people. Foregoing an adult-like silence, they, like mindless adolescents, cheered on the “freedom-loving democrats” in Tahrir Square, promoting and deepening the chaos that led to the Islamists’ stripping Egypt’s arsenals of modern weaponry and freeing thousands of veteran and talented mujahideen who were incarcerated in Mubarak’s prisons. Those men and weapons are now in active service from Algeria to Afghanistan to Nigeria to Syria.

The Western World’s self-proclaimed leaders next joined with France’s Nicholas Sarkozy to intervene in Libya to bring freedom to the tens of millions of Libyan democrats, only to find that there were no democrats and that they had again augmented the Islamist movement’s weapons inventory and manpower, while leaving Libya on the edge of becoming an Islamic state.

Ever blind to the costs of unwarranted intervention in the Muslim world, Obama and Cameron backed the amateurish French invasion of Mali — which will further spread the Islamists’ war in Africa — and then acquiesced, with silent joy, as the Egyptian military overthrew the Islamist Morsi government after its victory in a free and fair election, thereby forever ending any possibility that the West can convince the Islamic world that it will allow Muslim self-determination. The West-approved Egyptian military coup revalidated al-Qaeda’s leader al-Zawahiri’s 2005 advice that self-determination for Muslims and the reinvigoration of their faith can only come out of an AK-47‘s muzzle.

Most recently, Obama and Cameron have shown Muslims that, for the West, Israel always has carte blanche to steal Palestinian land, as Netanyahu rapidly expands settlement building. And they have again demonstrated their willingness to condemn Americans and Britons to endless war by deciding to arm the Islamist insurgency that will eventually rule Syria. This self-defeating arming occurred because Islamist leaders there were smart enough to push forward a few Syrians who chirped some nifty phrases about the glories of democracy. As always, the U.S. president and the British prime minister took the bait, they remain — like Bush, Clinton, and Blair before them — the Islamists only indispensable allies.

The foregoing can only be called a world of trouble, one in which the Islamists’ war on America and its allies is gaining strength and geographical reach, and is brimming with confidence in Allah’s beneficence after He allowed the mujahideen to easily defeat the U.S. superpower in Afghanistan and Iraq. To confront this growing religious war, Obama and Cameron have decided not to use their militaries effectively — too much bloodshed for such effete, worldly wise sophisticates — but to rely on the basically defensive capabilities of their intelligence communities, such as electronic intercepts and the drone and Special Forces attacks they facilitate. Sadly, these tools are no more than irksome if lethal pinpricks to the growing Islamist movement, and do nothing to slow, let alone halt its growth.

For America, the UK, and their NATO allies a day of reckoning is meandering toward them; its approach is slow and steady because of the extraordinary patience bred in Islamists and Muslims generally by both the tenets of their faith and reliable Anglo-American military failure. Obama, Bush, Clinton, Cameron, and Blair, have eased the Islamists’ way by refusing to kill enough of the mujahideen and — as important — of their civilian supporters to persuade them that their game of religious war is not worth the candle. And, in any event, once NATO leaves Afghanistan, is not at all clear where Western military power can in the near term be brought to bear to deliver the requisite slaughter. (NB: Over the longer term, this will not be a question. The U.S. and British militaries eventually will be deployed to destroy the mujahideen operating inside the United States and the UK as a consequence of the non-enforcement of existing immigration and border-control laws, laws which, in America, Obama is now trying eliminate altogether.)

Thus, in the name of championing such Islamist-favoring concepts as human rights, interventionist foreign policies, politically correct speech, the war-prolonging proportionality of Just War theory; and the absurd goal of zero civilian casualties, Obama and Cameron know they are losing the war the Islamists are waging against their countries, and in their desperation they have few weapons to use save the above-cited ones, weapons that now and again kill a few mujahideen, and others — especially the universal electronic surveillance of citizens — that will inconvenience the Islamists but gradually destroy the civil liberties of Americans and Britons.

In their palpable desperation, Obama and Cameron will expand the use of those weapons and, by doing so, they will protect the growing power and durability of our Islamist enemies, while undermining the constitutional structure, the rule of law, and the civil liberties which, since England’s Glorious Revolution (1688-89), Anglo-Americans have built and defended against the despotic drift of their rulers with argument, protest, and — if at last needed — violence.

As they head further down the road of losing wars and wrecking Anglo-American liberties, Messrs Obama and Cameron and their supporters in all parties would do well to read the words of the great 17th century English republican Algernon Sidney, a man who was revered on both sides of the Atlantic, who greatly influenced America’s founders, and who was executed by the British Crown for what it described as sedition. “There must therefore be a right,” Sidney wrote,

“of proceeding judicially or extra-judicially against all persons who transgress the laws; or else those laws, and the societies that should subsist by them, cannot stand; and the ends for which governments are constituted, together with the governments themselves, must be overthrown. … If he [a political leader] be justly accounted an enemy of all, who injures all; he above all must be the publick enemy of a nation, who by usurping power over them, does the greatest and most publick injury that a people can suffer. For which reason, by an established law among the most virtuous nations, every man might kill a tyrant; and no names are recorded in history with more honor, than of those who did it. … They [the people] know how to preserve their liberty, or to vindicate the violation of it; and the more patient they have been, the more inflexible they are when they resolve to be so no longer. Those who are so foolish to put them upon such courses, do to their cost find that there is a difference between lions and asses; and he is a fool who knows not that swords were given to men, that none might be slaves….”

Thomas G. West (ed), Algernon Sidney. Discourses Concerning Government. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1996, pp. 221, 227, and 434.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.