The Obama administration constantly adds problems and contradictions, domestically and internationally. The government’s paralysis, for lack of a budget, that lasted for 17 days and kept the country (and the world) waiting, facing the risk that the main power on the planet would go into default, followed the blow that not being able to carry out his threats to intervene in Syria militarily, after its use of chemical weapons, and having to accept the Russian plan of negotiation with Al Assad, signified. Now, without a break, a great quantity of data about the massive espionage that the US carries out, not against countries that “promote terrorism,” but against its own “friendly” great powers, like Germany, France, Spain and Italy, has again come to light.
The Snowden case and US diplomacy
A few months before, the publication of secret information from the US intelligence services (NSA) by one of their former agents, Edward Snowden, had revealed the massive wiretaps and hacking of e-mails carried out against Brazil, not only of ordinary citizens, but of big firms, government and security organizations and even President Dilma Rousseff herself. The scandal damaged the bilateral relationship, to the point that Dilma postponed the visit to Washington she had planned for the end of the year, blocking a key piece in the US strategy of a “return” to South America, after almost a decade of set-back in US political influence in the region.
The already difficult relationship with the Russia of Vladimir Putin, who, after several weeks of back and forth, granted asylum to the former US agent, which meant a sharp setback for Obama, had also become strained.
New tensions with the European allies
These days, the leaks of classified information have again put the White House in an awful position, as it was learned that tens of millions of telephone calls and e-mails have been investigated by the NSA in key countries of Europe. It was discovered that the German Chancellor herself, Angela Merkel, has her cell phone tapped and that one of the main NSA offices is functioning in the very US Embassy in Germany.
The German government said that “one does not spy on friends,” and that this was affecting the “good relations” that they had been building with the US for a while. Merkel personally called Obama, who said he did not know about the spying and that if he had known, he would have stopped it. However, shortly afterwards, it was learned that, at least since 2010, the US President has been kept informed of the monitoring of his German counterpart. The same thing has just been learned regarding Spain and Italy, as well as the fact that at least 35 heads of state are being spied on, throughout the world. Massive spying, at the highest level, that violates not only the sovereignty and the laws of the countries affected, but the very international conventions signed by the US. Spain summoned the US Ambassador and asked for “explanations” about the matter, although it defended the strategic relationship that they maintain. The Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, that had excellent relations with Obama for a while, said that “It is not acceptable that there are acts of espionage of this type.”
Obama has continued Bush’s policy
In the US, a progressive mobilization was carried out against the spying that, since the epoch of Bush and his “Patriot Act,” the intelligence services have also been practicing domestically, in a systematic and massive way. As The Washington Post, The Guardian, and other big daily papers point out, these practices are being carried out in accordance with big US multinational communications corporations, like Verizon or AT&T, as well as with credit card companies and internet providers (Microsoft, Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc.).
The White House had to go out to answer that they will review their intelligence program, to reconcile “security and privacy.” A response on the defensive that admits, in fact, that the leaked information is true, as well as that, over and above any cosmetic touching-up, they are not going to abandon those police and spying practices. On October 29, the NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, denied the leaks, saying that they would have obtained the data along with the intelligence services of allied countries like France or Spain. But the fact is that the US is increasingly exposed in its role of “world policeman.”
The European imperialist governments
However, this crisis, generated with its main allies, is not at all explained by a sovereign “defense” of the governments of the countries affected or by some democratic vocation. Merkel, Rajoy, Letta, or the “socialist” Hollande, know the espionage practices of the US perfectly well, because they themselves are also carrying out those practices at every level, and particularly against working-class organizations and activists. They not only know that, but they know very well the US practices of repression and systematic violation of human rights, that took a leap with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the “fight against terrorism,” of which they are direct accomplices, since they have provided logistics, troops, and even their own territory as US detention centers in Germany, for such purposes.
These governments are deeply reactionary, imperialist and anti-worker, as they have been proving in the implementation of savage austerity plans to save the capitalists, and in the repression against those who struggle. The reason for their complaints and tensions with the US is that the systematic and massive violation of the privacy of citizens, as well as direct US interference in “sovereign and independent” states, has been revealed in front of millions throughout the world. The European governments are complaining because they will have to pay the political price in front of the population, because of the errors of the White House and its intelligence services, and because they are being pressured by big businesses investigated by the NSA, so that they will intervene and set some limit. As the Spanish daily paper El Mundo (one of the first to publish the new data about the mega espionage) points out, quoting the Chairman of the Federation of German Industry, “the worst threat the German economy faces … is industrial espionage” (October 26).
None of these imperialist governments is going to take measures against the US, but the Obama administration continues getting setbacks that are eroding its authority, not only in front of the masses, but in front of its own partners and allies, the austerity-imposing and repressive governments of imperialist Europe.