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Trust is tested in American-German spy case

A story that won’t go away, and one that has ramifications is that Americans spied on its allies, at least they spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and she’s angry about that. The question is why would Americans go to all of the trouble and risk to spy on Angela Merkel? Here are some plausible reasons:

Not going well, and certainly unsettled
Not going well, and certainly unsettledPhoto by Alex Wong/Getty Images
  1. The Germans have a strategic energy agreement with the Russians.
  2. Americans may not trust the relationship, or Americans believe they might learn something from eavesdropping on those conversations.
  3. The EU is unstable and Americans are concerned about Germany’s role and Merkel’s leadership as it affects the global economy.

In all of these instances, trust is being tested.

The Obama administration is responsible for the circumstance. If true, as it surely appears to be, Barack Obama is not only on the hot seat at home for his aggressive behavior in office, he will be on the hot seat in international relations with a most trusted ally.

When did relations begin to sour between the U.S. and Germany?

Recall that Germany opposed the Iraq war. Also, observe that Germans loath war and were reluctant participants in Afghanistan. None of that explains why the U.S. would be distrustful of Germany and why it would intend to spy on an ally. Germans want to know the answer and so should Americans.

Last year EU members sought a “no spy” agreement with the U.S. like Britain had during WWII. They didn’t get it because this is a time when everybody needs to hedge.

Merkel answered the question herself when she said, “our views are far apart.” She grew up in East Germany where spying was prevalent. She detests it.

There are good reasons to tap communication in search of terrorists. There are no good reasons to tap friends, allies, and citizens. Obama hasn’t learned that lesson.

“German-American relations reached a low point during the conflict in Iraq. German opposition to the war was one of the reasons. Yet the US never wanted German soldiers in Iraq in the first place.

Germany's modest role in the Iraq War may have actually helped decide the conflict's outcome, according to Günter Joetze, a retired senior German diplomat who has been reviewing official documents on the conflict and speaking with witnesses since 2002.”

http://www.atlantic-times.com/archive_detail.php?recordID=2162

“The German military entered Afghanistan over a decade ago as a peacekeeping force tasked with aiding in the reconstruction and development of infrastructure and civil society. Today, it leaves the country as a combat force that engaged in deadly warfare.

The evolving role of the Bundeswehr, Germany's armed forces, in the conflict has helped to dramatically reshape it as a more experienced and capable fighting operation. Yet the German public has become even more opposed to military engagement overseas than it was 10 years ago, calling into question what sort of role the Bundeswehr will play in supporting NATO and the United Nations in future international conflicts.”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/how-afghanistan-has-changed-the-bundeswehr-german-military-a-927891.html

“German leader: US spy reports serious if true

By Associated Press July 7 at 3:50 PM

BEIJING — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that if reports that a German intelligence employee spied for the United States are proven true, it would be a “clear contradiction” of trust between the allies.
Speaking at a news conference in China, Merkel made her first public comments on the arrest last week of a 31-year-old man suspected of spying for foreign intelligence services.

German prosecutors say the man is suspected of handing over 218 documents between 2012 and 2014. German media, without naming sources, have reported he was an employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence service who says he sold his services to the U.S.

“If the allegations are true, it would be for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting cooperation between agencies and partners,” Merkel said at a news conference in Beijing with the Chinese premier.
Germany has been stepping up pressure on the United States to clarify the situation.

A U.S. official said the matter did not come up during a phone call Thursday between President Barack Obama and Merkel. The phone call was scheduled beforehand to discuss other matters and Obama was not aware of the spying allegations at the time, according to the official, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the private call.
The White House said the U.S. will work with Germany to resolve its concerns.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/merkel-says-us-spy-allegations-a-serious-case/2014/07/07/10d8f37e-05aa-11e4-9b58-18d600bb53de_story.html