Merkel Challenges Obama on the Nature of National Friendship

Among friends, spying in bad form.  What does it say about the relationship of nations? Business as usual or a breach of trust?

The angry allegation by the German government that the National Security Agency monitored the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel may force President Obama into making a choice he has avoided for years: whether to continue the age-old game of spying on America’s friends and risk undercutting cooperation with important partners in tracking terrorists, managing the global economy and slowing Iran’s nuclear program.

via Allegation of U.S. Spying on Merkel Puts Obama at Crossroads –

The debate is on. Is it time for a Euro-pivot?


10 thoughts on “Merkel Challenges Obama on the Nature of National Friendship”

  1. The reactions of Merkel and other world leaders is somewhat comical. What country does not know that other countries are spying on them? When allegations surface about spying on a certain country, it seems like the leaders only react because they are expected to react, not because they are actually mad about the allegations. Even if they are unhappy about the spying, they should not be surprised by it.

  2. I completely agree with Ryan. I feel that countries are theatrically feigning shock and appall to get the most out of the situation. Countries spy on each other, and we all know it’s true. It is one of the drawbacks to our technological age, but an inevitable one that should be expected. Just as we have known and complacently watched as google collected information on our online lives and advertised accordingly, people shouldn’t have been so astonished that the government does the same thing.
    Does this make it all okay? No, I don’t think so, but it’s also unavoidable unless you shun the modern age. The fact that a no-spying pact between Germany and the US has been an idea floating around proves that both sides know espionage has been happening.

  3. I can’t help but see the current outrage against the US’s spying on other countries as yet another sign that America’s reign as THE global powerhouse is coming to an end. We’ve been spying on other countries for decades. What do you think the CIA was created for? No one became openly outraged before, but now that they see the US economy in shambles, other countries challenging the US government’s power, the US government shutting down for two weeks because the two sides of government are unwilling to compromise with each other, they see that our infrastructure is weakening and they are starting to make demands. If America can’t get it’s political act together, it will continue to look weak to the outside world, and no one respects the weak.

  4. I agree with every comment made above me. All countries know that America especially has been spying ever since the United States took over as a global super power. However, to “keep face” with the citizens, each country must condone the spying. Although the spying of countries on each other is inevitable, governments of these other countries do not have to like it. The United States is fast losing its place as a super power. The government does not have it together enough to keep the country in shape and the economy is weak and unable to stand on its own. The world is turning once again to isolationist ideals where it is unacceptable to breathe down each other’s necks. Though countries ruling each other has never been an accepted ideal by the western world, it was acknowledged that countries would be actively involved with each other. Our world is taking a step back from that idea and focusing again in some ways on the strength of individual nation states.

  5. America is in a tight spot. I agree with the above comments that this is a pretty clear sign of America’s faltering image on a global stage. The past few months have been anything but reassuring to other nations of our stability. Snowden’s leaks have run amok on our international relations with countries everywhere, leaving them to question the integrity of our alliances with them. But not everything can be blamed on Snowden. Our faltering economy and the lack of initiative within Congress to produce real results to solving our budget crises may raise many a nervous eyebrow across the world as we get deeper and deeper into debt and financial insecurity. The recent government shutdown is another contributing factor. I think other countries have a right to be nervous about our current situation and perhaps a little indignant with the goings-on of our government. I think we really need to show the world that we can get our act together and maintain our prestigious position in the world with dignity and security.

  6. I think that it is a ridiculous claim that President Obama didn’t know about what was going on. It is an extremely convenient way to pass the blame from President Obama to a group of unknown individuals working for the NSA. I think that we really need to take a look at our foreign policy and decide what we are going to do. We can either continue to spy on others, understanding that we are above the rules based on our military might, or we can play nice, and do what everyone expects us to do. I think that if the Edward Snowden of England decided to shed some light on their foreign policy, we would see the same things going on there. We aren’t the only ones spying, we just got caught. There has to be something that can be done, because we are clearly headed in the wrong direction.

    On Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 11:24 PM, Globo Diplo

  7. I’m going to disagree with the people claiming that this is a sign that the US is losing power. If anything, its a confirmation that the European Union stills sees the US as a major and, in a slightly strange way, fears it. First, let us realize the leaders’ actions are simply theatrics to appease the public and (at least in Germany’s case) to move the internal discussion away from the government’s approval in mass data collection of German citizens. Next, realize that this is a good way to get in on the US’s intelligence. By misleading the public on both sides of the Atlantic, pressure will mount for a No-Spy deal (which doesn’t really stop spying and definitely shouldn’t be extended to a country like France, which, like Israel, is notorious for spying on its allies) and probably, to almost only the European nations benefit, more intelligence sharing in non-terrorism areas. These countries would have immense gains from it as it would allow them to need to spend as much resources in those areas, while US would gain almost nothing.

    Then there’s the whole fact that Merkel was asking for it by having an unencrypted cell phone. The US surely weren’t the only people listening in, they were probably just the nicest. And I can assure you that these nations have been trying to listen into the US president’s phone, because what nation hasn’t. The intelligence gained from it is too large to not reach for.

    The current plan to possibly stop spying on allied leaders is the worst thing the president could do, even worse than a no-spy agreement. These country’s will get over it and go back to trying to hack into the US and each other. And if a deal is made, maybe the US bases in Germany should be put on the line. The US will stop spying on Germany and Germany can stop getting the defense and cashflow from those bases. Then we’ll see how important stopping a little espionage actually is. (Losing those bases won’t make a huge difference to the US anyway. They don’t need all of them, have been trying to close some of them down anyway (to the protests of German leaders) and what they do need could be moved to Poland, a much more passive ally.)

    1. Oh, I forgot to mention that really, a major world leader should have no expectations of privacy, not from other major nations, at least. They’re too valuable and know to much. And that’s just the way the game is played.

  8. When reading in the NYT today, I noticed that there was an article about how Obama is thinking about telling the NSA that it is not to spy on countries that the US is friendly with. While his intentions are noble, I think it is difficult to tell the NSA this. I say this because where do we draw the line that determines states as friendly to mutual? Not to mention that the relationships between states change frequently–as a result, if the US was already spying on a country while it was on good terms with that country, it would be easier to continue spying on that country when there is a rough patch in the relationship, rather than just starting to spy. Overall, I think the US will continue to spy on countries it is friendly with, but keep it on the down low, because it has no other choice.

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