America’s Real Loss of Prestige and Leadership Abroad

Because we traded the smooth talking guy for the clumsy boob with no manners, it is popular to bleat that America has given up its role as leader of the free world, to say other nations don’t respect us anymore, or look to us for moral guidance – in the extreme, that we are no longer that shining city on the hill we see ourselves as.

What such clichés overlook is that not everyone in the free world is as blind as a typical American op-ed writer. Some in fact see past who the current Spokesmodel of Democracy in the White House is, and look to what America actually does. And what it does is often not pretty, and when revealed suggests our nation is and has been morally bankrupt a lot longer than the Trump administration has been in charge.

One of the more recent revelations of what much of the world already knew comes, again, via WikiLeaks, America’s conscience.

Leaked documents show home Internet routers, that blinking thing in the corner of the room where you’re reading this, from ten American manufacturers, including Linksys, DLink, and Belkin, can be turned into covert listening posts that allow the Central Intelligence Agency to monitor and manipulate incoming and outgoing traffic and infect connected devices.

Short: American-made devices sold globally to allow the free world to use the Internet have been repurposed by the CIA as spy tools.

The CIA’s technique requires new firmware to be added to the router. This can be done remotely, over WiFi, at the factory, or at any point along the supply chain. It is unknown if America’s leading electronics manufacturers actively helped the CIA do this, passively allowed the CIA to do this after sharing technical data, or simply looked the other way.

The results of this CIA hack are spectacular.

The firmware allows the CIA full access to the router, and all connected devices and networks. The spooks can insert malware, copy passwords, see what is being sent and received, redirect browsers to fake websites, why there is little-to-no limit. Apparently the user interface the CIA created for itself is quite friendly. There’s even a Quick Start Guide.

And you know what?

The CIA has been doing all this since at least 2007. That means it started under the George W. Bush administration, ran during both Obama terms, and continues without a break right into the Trump years. Three very different presidents, three very different self-images for America, yet underlying all was the same CIA, turning American products to their own needs and spying on well, everyone. Anyone. Free world or not.

From a global perspective, it doesn’t really matter whether the person in the White House is a Nobel Peace Prize winner or a bumbling oaf. Because the real America, the one that spies on a global scale for its own ends, never changes. That guy on TV you hate? He’s just a placeholder, maybe a distraction, about as consequential to the real role of the United States as a professional wrestler.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

3 thoughts on “America’s Real Loss of Prestige and Leadership Abroad”

  1. Worse.. smart dust… if the people knew what is already in place, and what is coming with the 5G rollout, they would march on Washington by the millions.. but they don’t, and, they have no recourse because by the time enough realize how bad it really is, it will be too late…. what freedom remains exists at the sole discretion of the agencies and their silent partners.
    Normal guns are useless against the State. 100% ineffective against the X-Men type tech at their disposal.

  2. I think Tariq Ali said it best:

    “Dear friends, I think it’s now, time to at least have a first balance sheet, not the last, the first balance sheet of the Obama presidency
    As many of you know the images of the campaign are still vivid
    Big, large mobilizations in the United States, of young people primarily, desperate for change
    And the slogan of that campaign: Change We Can Believe In”
    Change Change Change
    But what has changed and what hasn’t changed
    There has been of course been a change in the presidency, and we can’t complain too much about that
    There is a new vice-president also in the United States, and we can’t complain too much about that
    But the Defence Secretary is the same. That’s the guy who sits in the pentagon and organizes wars, and the reason he was kept on was to show that there is, there are both elements of discontinuity at the top AND very strong elements of continuity
    And the reason for that, is that if you wear Caesar’s clothes, you have to behave like Caesar”

    So it just goes to illustrate my view that you could have some random guy/gal in a SpongeBob outfit for president and the net result would be the same. Heck, I bet an amoeba or a potted plant would do just fine.

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