The NSA and Obama's crumbling foreign policy

The NSA and Obama's crumbling foreign policy

Atlantic City : NJ : USA | Nov 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM PST
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European Commission on NSA spying allegation

The Obama administration is aloof to the damage caused by NSA intelligence activities in Europe, an Oct. 24 article in the Frankfurt General Times reported.

This reports follows on the heels of repeated apologies to European leaders by the president.

In late October, CNN's Tim Lister wrote a reminder of Obama's speech at the Brandenburg Gate on July 24, 2008, during the run-up to election. Obama "promised a new era of 'allies who listen to each other, who will learn from each other, who will, above all, trust each other.'"

But two out of three promises kept isn't that bad, right?

Lister still fawned over Obama, writing that "No US politician since John F. Kennedy had so captured Europeans' imagination." The reference to Kennedy aside, there's been a lot of lip service and minimal constructive accomplishment.

Der Spiegel and Le Monde articles predicated on discoveries made in Edward Snowden's leaked files have prompted the German and French foreign ministries to summon US ambassadors in Berlin and Paris for explanation. Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, says, "We can't simply turn the page."

Now, the NSA spying-scandal is being equated across the European media with the Iraq war of President George W. Bush's day for isolating the European regimes from their "multilateral," anti-Bush alternative; and the foreign policy that was defined in stark contrast to its predecessor is beginning to look like the application of it.

Perhaps White House spokesman Jay Carney said it best Oct. 23 when he stated "the president assured the chancellor that the US is not monitoring, and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor." Using everything but the past tense ensures the ongoing suspicion that the practice only stopped because of the Snowden files.

According to an incriminating article from the Economic Times of India, corroborated by the German Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag, Obama was informed of the wiretapping of Merkel's phone as early as 2010. The president "not only did not stop the operation, but he also ordered it to continue" says a high-ranking, undisclosed NSA official. The practice continued because "President Obama did not trust Merkel," and ordered preparation of a detailed dossier on the chancellor. The NSA subsequently stepped up surveillance to include mobile phone communications between Merkel and Christian Democratic Union Party colleagues.

An Oct. 24 USA Today article by Jesse Singal reported that the European Union was already "considering taking action against the US for spying on its leaders." Singal notes that "France's President Francois Hollande has been pressing fellow heads of state" about the spying issue. Obama has managed to unify European resentment against the US in a way even Bush could never attain.

French EU Commissioner Michel Barnier says "confidence in the US has been shaken" and he "suggested Europe develop its own digital tools such as a 'European data cloud' independent of American oversight." The Europeans are ready to begin severing ties over the issue.

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament asserts "undermined confidence in the USA meant [the European Parliament] should suspend negotiations for a two-way free-trade agreement that would account for almost half of the global economy." Lister seconded that opinion, noting that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership has likely been derailed by the scandal. Such an agreement would have been so much more substantial a diplomatic and economic triumph for the US than, for example, NAFTA, competing against a very protectionist economy which, taken as an aggregate whole is stronger than the US, and wields a substantially stronger, more stable currency like a financial weapon.

Perhaps worst of all, the Europeans have agreed unanimously to suspend American use of the SWIFT interbank database apparatus to monitor terrorists' financial transactions under European sovereignty. If the measures of the Bush administration were excessive, the bludgeoning use of the NSA hammer to spy on 35 world leaders indiscriminately has actually backfired and made spying on terrorists more difficult.

Now, the problem has followed us back into the American back yard. The Mexican government is taking a look into NSA spying and suspicion of American intrusion. Lister reported that President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff actually canceled a visit to the US in disgust over the spying scandal.

Most disturbing, it appears that nowhere in the media or the Obama administration is anyone capable of answering the question of motive save for sheer, craven suspicion of our own allies. According to the Fiscal Times' David Francis, European allies are known to spy on the US, but it's "widely believed in intelligence circles that the Germans largely leave the United States and other allies alone." Even worse, "It's not clear what the NSA was gathering from Angela Merkel's phone" and "...officials also said that they received little useful intelligence."

All I can say is that those National Intelligence Estimates presented to the president every morning better have provided some juicy gossip to bolster his confidence against more experienced, competent heads-of-state across the Atlantic...because the Frankfurt General Times -- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung -- was right about something: Our friends on the left have little appreciation for how much damage the president's blundering is doing.

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European Commission President Jose Barroso interrupts daily business early in July to make an address about European indignation over the suspicion of NSA intelligence collection on European heads of state. The gravity of the issue is something that was made clear over six months ago.
larsknutson is based in Loma Linda, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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  • 	"We were so naive: now the German-American relationships need a realistic foundation."	The political amateurism of a president who cannot actually control his administration, or even worse, abuses it, has substantial consequences.

    Goodbye, Friend!

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