Hola, was it really a good idea to listen in on Spain exchanging paella recipes?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL October 30, 2013

france-nsa-shocking-spying.siHola. Now that even Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has overview of the National Security Agency‘s activities, wants a review, you have to wonder why the NSA was listening in on 60.5 million phone calls in Spain between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013.

What could they possibly learned from all those paella recipes?

What was so significant about all that morning gossip exchanged by stay-at-home housewives? Those must’ve been protracted sessions, considering Spanish mornings,  la mañana, can stretch until about 2 pm, according to Valerie Collins and Theresa O’Shea’s tongue-in-cheek tips on that fascinating, occasionally infuriating country. (Ms Collins and O’Shea should know. They wrote ‘In the Garlic’, which is supposed to be “a quirky A-Z guide about Spain”.)

Jokes apart, the flood of information about NSA surveillance of American allies surprising.  Surely there should be more about activities related to China, Russia, Iran and the other usual suspects?

Instead it’s all about friendships betrayed. Could this be the invidious reason that this material is being dribbled out? To annoy America’s friends, forcing them to open up national debates about the nature of the relationship? If so, it’s a clever strategy that leaves the US looking more alienated. As previously discussed, political scientists Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore believe America’s biggest foreign policy problem right now can be boiled down to four words: The end of hypocrisy. In an eponymous essay for Foreign Affairs, they argued that the world is no longer so willing to cut the US a lot of slack and allow it openly to be hypocritical. Hard times.

But then again, the Kiwis are engaged in rebuilding long-fractured relations with the US, which might be all to the good until possible new revelations about NSA activity in New Zealand?