The latest allegations of transatlantic espionage conducted by the U.S. against its European “allies” have placed President Barack Obama and the U.S. State Department in the global hot seat. Germany and France, the two EU heavyweights, have publicly denounced the U.S. for its covert snooping operation targeting EU offices and embassies. The initial shock among the EU public is now morphing into anger, which could have negative effects upon the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks slated for next week.
Germany has openly questioned the fragile trust in current EU-U.S. relations while France is demanding an immediate halt to the spying operation along with a U.S. guarantee that the covert activities will not resume. Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office believes that the American snooping op could have violated German strict privacy laws and has therefore launched an official inquiry into the allegations.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, finds herself in a particularly tough position. With outrage over the snooping revelations spreading throughout Germany, and major elections just a mere three months away, Merkel must carefully consider whether defending current U.S. relations could cost her the election.
France also expressed serious concerns after a report alleged that the U.S. had secretly wiretapped the French embassy in Washington as well as the French office at the United Nations.
Martin Schulz, current President of the EU Parliament, took the argument a step further by asking how the covert black-operations employed by the NSA are any different from those used by the Soviet-era KGB:
“It is shocking that the United States take measures against their most important and nearest allies, comparable to measures taken in the past by the KGB, by the secret service of the Soviet Union.”
Top European officials have responded by ordering a security sweep of EU buildings in an effort to remove any bugs found.
President Obama has sought to downplay the shock value of the allegations by inferring that the secret snooping operations were similar to those conducted by the intelligence agencies of other nations. During a speech in Tanzania this week, Obama stated:
“Not just ours, but every European intelligence service, every Asian intelligence service, wherever there’s an intelligence service – here’s one thing that they’re going to be doing: they’re going to be trying to understand the world better and what’s going on in world capitals around the world.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, agreed with Obama’s tone when responding to his European counterparts. During a speech in Brunei, Kerry stated:
“Every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs of national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that… All I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations.”
These latest revelations come courtesy of NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who apparently remains in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport as he searches for asylum. Yesterday, Snowden released his first public statement via Wikileaks, vowing to continue dripping his top secret information to a select group of global media outlets.
Ironically, these allegations hit the media just days before major talks were scheduled to begin on July 8 to undertake the creation of the world’s largest free-trade zone between the U.S. and the EU.
In order for the ambitious EU-U.S. free trade talks to commence, it is imperative for confidence and trust to be restored to the Transatlantic relations. It is likely that the talks will at least be delayed. However the corporations who are pushing the Transatlantic Union have lots of money. And money solves a whole myriad of problems.
These new allegations come on the heels of yet another leaked report by Snowden claiming that the U.S. had hacked Chinese mobile phone companies in order to compile data from millions of text messages. In addition, the U.S. reportedly spied on Chinese universities and other important institutions.
China was obviously outraged and called the U.S. on its gross hypocrisy.
According to another report based on leaked information from Snowden, more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations have occurred globally. These operations have targeted powerful “network backbones” that can provide U.S. spy agencies with access to hundreds of thousands of individual computers.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has been busy lecturing the world, especially China, on the dangers of hacking sensitive data, labeling it “cyber warfare.”
Unfortunately for the U.S., anything but an apology will be a contradiction of public policy. Consider this report entitled Cyber Combat: Act of War from the Wall Street Journal on May 30, 2011:
“The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force… If a cyber attack produces the death, damage, destruction or high-level disruption that a traditional military attack would cause, then it would be a candidate for a “use of force” consideration, which could merit retaliation.”
There are few things worse in this world than a hypocrite, and who can disagree that Snowden’s revelations have all but exposed America as the world’s biggest bully and hypocrite.
It’s time for Washington to apologize and cease its Orwellian data collection methods.
But, of course, the U.S. will not stop even if it happens to muster an apology. Instead, it will only grow as those in power have become intoxicated by their ultimate control and wicked plans for world domination.
As we have all known for decades, Washington is out of control. This is not to say that other nations are not engaged in similar covert intelligence gathering operations. Of course they are. But these other nations do not clothe themselves in vain talk of “freedom and democracy.” If the U.S. wants to lead the world, it must lead by example. Unfortunately, the legacy of the U.S. includes pre-emptive wars that have killed millions of innocent civilians along with a rising police state designed to strip its citizens of all hopes of peaceful anonymity.
The U.S. is not facing merely an economic crisis or a political crisis. It is faced with a systemic crisis that can only be solved through a complete reform of all of its corrupt institutions.
Will these reforms come as a result of a willing change internally? Or will the reforms be forced upon us by retaliation from our weary global neighbors?
Time will tell.