Germany’s 1-0 FIFA World Cup victory against Argentina on Sunday, July 13 was one of the European nation’s proudest moments. Last week, prior to qualifying for the final game, Germany annihilated Brazil — this year’s host country — with a humiliating 7-1 defeat. The country also destroyed team USA, showing themselves to be a force not to be reckoned with as they remained controlled, smart and resilient throughout the games.
Today’s Germany is the European Union’s most powerful member. Following the Second World War, it rebuilt its economy with its automotive industry and its export markets. Its ability to compete with the US’ global hegemony and rising super-power China is a clear indicator of the nation’s anchored role in the international arena.
Germany has attempted to remain a strong Western ally, especially with the United States. However, recent events have begun to threaten the trust bond between both states. On July 12, 2014, a mere day before Germany’s historic win, German Chancellor Angela Merkel went as far as making a public statement on the just-released U.S spying allegations.
In her address, broadcast by German broadcaster ZDF, Merkel explicitly referred to the fragile state of affairs between Washington and Berlin. Merkel specifically focused on the importance of trust and the role of intelligence between the partner states. Washington, she continued, did not seem to be on the same page as far as these key relationship elements were concerned.
Merkel’s speech was delivered two days after the German government’s discovery of two American spies working inside the country. Suspicions first emerged when German officials found one officer reporting to the U.S State Department rather than the American intelligence agencies. Although the officer has yet to be arrested, another, complicit individual was taken into custody for espionage after admitting to investigators that he had passed documents to the CIA. This revelation subsequently lead to the CIA station chief in Berlin being expelled from the country.
Merkel has adamantly proclaimed this behaviour as unacceptable for allies; however, her loud clamour has yet to trigger an equally vocal response from Washington officials. A day before Merkel’s ZDF speech, White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told media outlets:
“When differences arise, we’re committed to resolving those differences through the established private channels… we don’t believe that trying to resolve them through the media is appropriate.”
Earnest’s remarks on the allegations mirror former Press Secretary Jay Carney’s remarks last fall, when Washington was accused of bugging Merkel’s personal cell phone. After being asked if the US was monitoring Merkel’s previous communications, Carney stated: “We are not going to comment publicly on every specified alleged intelligence activity… “We have diplomatic relations and channels that we use in order to discuss these issues that have clearly caused some tension in our relationships with other nations around the world, and that is where we were having those discussions.”
Despite Germany’s disappointment in its transatlantic partner, Merkel maintained that US-German trade relations would not be affected. However, other EU countries have voiced their unease over American spying: the loss of trust between the US and its allies is growing into a genuine concern for the international community. As stated by Merkel last fall, “spying among friends, that cannot be […] there are far more critical things on which to spy, and snooping on friends erodes trust.”
These tensions first emerged when former NSA contract worker, Edward Snowden, released classified documents pertaining to the US’ massive surveillance schemes. Hacking cell phone records, collecting e-mail data, spying on government officials and fostering general distrust are all acts that have been further magnified by the U.S communication intercepts leakage. Snowden’s unprecedented revelations opened a Pandora’s box with international repercussions.