By Dave Lindorff
Like an obnoxious drunk harassing everyone and spilling drinks at a party, the US has continued to make itself both loathed and laughed at in the wake of the revelations about the National Security Agency's global spying program as revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
The latest example of this was the report in Germany last week that the US had been massively spying on millions of German people based upon a tortured interpretation of a secret Cold War-era agreement foisted upon the then Bundesrepublik back in the early 1960s. That agreement gave the US and Britain the authority to surveil Soviet and East German spying activities inside what was commonly referred to as West Germany, and also to conduct spying operations to "protect" US troops based there. Obviously, spying on Soviet and East German spies is a far different thing from spying on Germans themselves, and clearly the Cold War is long gone. As for spying on Germans who might threaten the bases, that clearly could have been handled by police in Germany, and in any even would only involve a small and discrete program, not the monitoring of millions people's electronic communications.
Angela Merkel, the conservative German Chancellor whose governing coalition is facing a critical national election in a few weeks, and who has been taking a lot of heat from Germans over disclosures that her government knew all along about the American spying program, has been trying to look proactive, and so the her government announced that it was canceling the spying agreement and ordering a halt to the NSA's spying activities in the country.
The US response: nothing public, but unidentified "sources" in the US government made it clear that, agreement or no agreement, the NSA's spying would continue (a German government official also stated that the supposed termination of the secret Cold War agreement would have "little effect" on continued spying by the US in Germany).
It's another indication that the European countries are just puppets working under US authority. Much as an earlier demonstration this summer when the US induced French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish authorities to deny their airspace to transit by a Bolivian presidential jet carrying President Evo Morales, who was en route from Russia back to Bolivia, forcing him to land in Austria, which itself was pressed by the US to have its authorities search the plane, thought by US sources to be carrying Snowden to asylum.
These heavy handed measures by the US are infuriating the people of Europe -- normally pro-American -- who are angry at both at the US and at their own servile governments.
There are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, it shows that although the US has been seriously weakened by its military failures in Iraq and now Afghanistan, it is still far from just a paper tiger on the world scene. On the other hand, objectively speaking, it is weakened, its military over-stretched and in any event clearly ineffective against situations where the people are defending their own territory. Furthermore, the "enemy" that the US has long "defended" Europe against -- the former Soviet Union -- is no more, and Russia poses no military threat to Europe these days, so the US military stationed in Europe has no purpose any longer. At the same time, most Europeans see US global banks and other corporations as more of a threat than a benefit.