Friday, October 25, 2013

It is hard to believe the level of arrogance...

While Fox New watching Tea Party lovers in America enjoy bashing President Obama over the governments new medical insurance website, rather more serious things are afoot on the broader World Stage.

While the US government will eventually build the healthcare insurance website and have it running properly, relations between America and other first world nations is being rather seriously strained.  The relation strain has me concerned.

At first, the Germans seemed happy with the latest trade deal that was being negotiated between the EU and the Americans.  The trade deal was more important at the time than the eavesdropping revelations.  It was the French who said the EU should reconsider the trade talks after the Edward Snowden leaks.  What started with a little hand waving by the Germans over the NSA scandal has turned into open concern for their relationship with the US. 

As of today, except for England, the EU is firmly standing against the US-based eavesdropping activities.  As for the trade talks, it seems to me that the Germans are ready to join the French in tabling discussions.  The EU's attention now seem firmly set on US spying activities, not it's trade relations.

The Guardian reports that "The French and German governments have demanded talks with the US by the end of the year as the row over the spying activities of the US National Security Agency intensifies."
I understand the French anger at American spying.  After all, it was just a 30 day period where "the NSA collected over 70 million French communications, which were then categorized either as “Drtbox” or “Whitebox.”"  To me, that seems like an enormously excessive amount of spying over such a short period of time.  A vast net was cast, but for what?

In response to the US spying on France news, as well as information that Angelica Merkel's phone conversations were recorded and analyzed, European leaders are clearly stating their positions.

Angelica Merkel said "It's become clear that for the future, something must change - and significantly. We will put all efforts into forging a joint understanding by the end of the year for the co-operation of the [intelligence] agencies between Germany and the US and France and the US, to create a framework for the co-operation … It's not just about me but about every German citizen. We need to have trust in our allies and partners, and this trust must now be established once again. I repeat that spying among friends is not at all acceptable against anyone, and that goes for every citizen in Germany."

Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister said today that "I will support [Angelica Merkel] completely in her complaint and say that this is not acceptable."
The Italian prime minister, Enrico Letta,said "We want the truth. It is not in the least bit conceivable that activity of this type could be acceptable."

Since my wife and I have chosen to life in France, Francois Hollande's comments really grabbed my attention.  He said "What is at stake is preserving our relations with the United States. They should not be changed because of what has happened. But trust has to be restored and reinforced."

To me, it's one thing to clearly and arrogantly break the US Constitution's 4th Amendment by spying on all American communications (email, telephone, etc), and it's quite another to jeopardize a countries relationship with other First World nations.  Allies historically create a strong block of influence.  There is weakness in standing alone in the world, no matter how big your economy nor how large your trans-national businesses. Yet, it seems that with the NSA's Total Information Awareness program this is exactly what the US is gambling.  Allied shared influence versus going it alone.

I have heard far too many people in America say "What can we do?  This kind of thing has been going on forever." I have read too many comments that "there is nothing new here, why the outrage?" Are Americans this recklessly naive?  Can they really believe the entire world is ready to do the US' bidding?  I shake my head and wonder what is wrong with some Americans.

Jude pointed out something obvious.  There have been burgleries, robbery, rape, and corruption "that has being going on forever".  Yet societies take steps to limit such things.  They take steps to right clear wrongs.  Forcing American spy agencies to follow US law must be no different.

If the spying problem "goes sideways" and if the US and Europe escalate the into a wide ranging political confrontation, my concern is for what France might do to US citizens living here in retaliation for US Government actions.  While the concern is certainly not shared by anyone living in the US, I can see immediate consequences for American arrogance and the $10BILLION eavesdropping programs for those of us who have chosen to live abroad.

We are a very long ways from this, but I hope it never comes to having to ask for political asylum.  We couldn't stand the thought of returning to a nation that is day by day further out of control than we ever thought possible.

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