Our foreign relations debacle

American citizens in great numbers resented the revelations via Edward Snowden that the NSA was monitoring their e-mails and phone calls.  But the outrage is even greater among our allies, who learned that not only was our government snooping on their citizens, but that we were specifically eavesdropping on as many as 35 government leaders, including German prime minister Angela Merkel.  A number of these countries are planning to take the issue to the UN, and the resentment threatens the negotiations for a free trade agreement with the European Union.

From WASHINGTON: World’s anger at Obama policies goes beyond Europe and the NSA | Europe | McClatchy DC:

The uproar in Europe over revelations from fugitive former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the United States spied on as many as 35 government leaders, including Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, has become so great that early Friday 28 European leaders said Merkel and French President Francois Hollande would open negotiations with the United States over a “no-spying agreement.” . . .

The alleged NSA monitoring of Merkel’s phone is a key case in point. On Wednesday, Merkel confronted Obama about the claim in a phone conversation in which she reportedly used words like “unacceptable.” The White House later said in a statement that Obama had assured her that her cellphone was not being targeted. But a German statement recounting the same call made no mention of Obama’s assurances, and it was clear the next day that Obama had had no calming effect when the Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to deliver another dressing down.

Early Friday, the extent of European pique was evident again when a meeting of European heads of state ended with a demand that the United States enter into a “no-spying agreement” with European allies.

“The friendship and partnership between the European member states, including Germany, and the United States is not a one-way street,” Merkel said. “There are good reasons that the United States also needs friends in the world.”

Edward Joseph, a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University, calls the anger in Europe over Snowden leaks and the NSA “really, really different from spats in the past, the scale of this, the amount of exposure Snowden has given on this incredibly expansive project.” He described the Europeans as “indignant.”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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