I wrote some lengthy comments on a post relating the news that Snowden plans to stop in Moscow on his way to Cuba. I think they are worth reading. I don’t think it will spoil anything if I tell you up front that I consider Snowden a narcissist, far from a hero.
Actual Google + Post: https://plus.google.com/101552690782392209016/posts/2gGYbN81LqY?partnerid=gplp0
I never considered Snowden a proper whistle blower. He’s at best an immature and confused man with delusions of grandiosity. I think he did this to gain fame, which has worked, and is now refusing to accept the consequences for his actions.
Q: Do you see Snowden as different than Manning and Assange?
A: I do see Snowden as different than Manning and Assange. Judging based on what I know of their characters, Assange is an egomaniac but generally believes he’s doing the right thing and is willing to risk himself to do that. Manning I think believed he was doing the right thing and was just too young to understand the results of his actions. Snowden I think did this for his own reasons, not for the greater good and not for the nation. Also, Snowden released information, as far as I know, that most people paying attention already knew. Essentially, I see the others as ideological actors, while Snowden is something else.
Q: You seem to judge people based on their personalities.Also, what about the terrible things the US has done and still does to its own citizens and others? Are Russia and China really enemies of the US?
A: I try, as far as I’m able, to judge people based on their character, the intent of their actions. We are all capable of acting in bad faith, often toward ourselves. But if a person acts for what they (genuinely) consider the greater good and not for their own narrow benefit, I’m very inclined to forgive them. Our justice system, ideally anyway, takes this into account in the same way and it’s been that way in the West for 2500 years at least.
I strongly dislike the Chinese government and consider them the greatest threat to the world’s welfare and the welfare of the US, except perhaps for us. Russia is second on that list, but well below the Chinese. Note that it’s the governments I dislike. It makes no sense to hate an entire people. I actually learned this partly from studying Gandhi’s Satyagraha in grad school (I focused on ethics) where he demonstrated clearly that our aim is to change institutions, not individuals. The vast majority of people conform to the institutions and act according to those structures. If the institution is bad/immoral, so will the people be bad. There are certainly bad people shaping and controlling the institutions in the US and elsewhere that prey on citizens and make grossly immoral choices, but if we change only bad individuals (e.g. Bachmann), new ones will arise to take their place. We must change the dynamic of the institutions so that bad people are less compatible with them.
Regarding the specific atrocities committed in the name of the Unites States and by specific private enterprises, we as a people allowed these institutions to grow more corrupt until someone like Bush/Cheney could create a human disaster like Guantanamo and Obama could authorize strikes that knowingly kill innocents. We allowed bad politicians to appeal to our baser desires while we remained distracted by the hedonism possible in this nation, which is always covertly supported by bad men, even as they speak against it.
Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to explain my stance in a way that does it justice. I’m always open for changing if something better comes along, but for now, my best understanding of humans and other aspects of the world leads me to the conclusions I laid out here.