The House that Uncle Sam Built is Developing Cracks
Yuri BARANCHIK | 05.11.2013 | OPINION

The House that Uncle Sam Built is Developing Cracks

The process of weakening America’s position in the world is underway. The house that Uncle Sam built is developing crack after crack. 

The European Union’s loss of confidence in its American Big Brother began with Bradley Manning’s revelations, which provided WikiLeaks with sustenance. The next blow was struck by Edward Snowden. As a result, Germany terminated its agreement on intelligence activities that it had entered into with the United States and Great Britain back during the Cold War. Angela Merkel, whose telephone has been tapped by the NSA since 2002, declared that such practices towards allies are unacceptable. Obama found himself in an awkward position for the president of a great power when forced to declare that he knew nothing about the fact that the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany’s telephone had been tapped, after which the German media brought ultimate clarity to the issue: listening in on Merkel’s telephone conversation had been ordered by Obama himself.

As a result, Europe has already refused the United States access to its financial database, called SWIFT, which is located in Switzerland and contains information on billions of transactions around the world. European Parliament deputies decided on this step at the end of October. 280 European Parliament deputies voted in support of the decision to block access to the database.

Furthermore, the European Parliament is planning on prohibiting large companies from giving out personal information on European Union citizens to the authorities of other countries. Parliamentarians have drafted an amendment to the law on personal information. According to this amendment, large corporations like Google or Yahoo are going to have to request permission from EU authorities before handing over information on its users to the US.

The head of the German Ministry of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, recently declared on air with the radio station «Deutschlandfunk» that: «Should our suspicions be confirmed and the business goes as far as the initiation of proceedings, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office is going to have to explore the issue of possibly questioning Snowden as a witness». According to the Minister, the European Union should suspend the agreement between the EU and the US on monitoring the financing of terrorist activities: «Apologies from Obama are not enough. In my view, the crucial point is whether the Americans are going to change their policy of collecting data without any limitations or not».

Yet another consequence of Snowden’s revelations for the US was the decision by the leaders of the 28 EU member states to authorise the German Chancellor and the President of France to discuss the problem of phone tapping with Barack Obama’s administration in order to come to a mutual understanding on the boundaries of what is permissible with regard to intelligence activities. This initiative was even supported by the British Prime Minister David Cameron, in spite of the «special relationship» that the English have with the United States. 

Given the fact that Snowden’s current revelations might not be his last, it is possible to suppose that the former harmony of relations between the US and Europe is far behind them. America spying on its allies has struck a serious blow to the trans-Atlantic partnership. Berlin is showing the greatest determination in this regard – and this is despite the strength of the pro-American lobby in Germany.

At the same time as all this, a process to weaken America’s influence in the Middle East is also underway. Washington’s unsuccessful attempt to resolve the «Syrian issue» using military force has not allowed Barack Obama any noticeable influence on the G20 agenda in St. Petersburg. The business is not just restricted to Syria, however. The US was forced to revise the basis of its entire policy in the Middle East, having already started to shift its focus from a collaboration with the despotic regimes of the Persian Gulf to the development of relations with Iran. Riyadh reacted rather dramatically to this manoeuvre by Washington, threatening to review its own relations with the United States in return. Tehran is also clearly in no hurry to accept America’s rules of the game. Cracks are beginning to show in America’s relations with its Middle Eastern allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

At the same time, the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan is drawing closer. In Kyrgyzstan, Americans have been asked to leave the Manas military base. 

It is also becoming more difficult for Washington to maintain its influence in Latin America. If Brazil manages to keep stable economic growth rates, it will occupy exactly the same position in Latin America as Germany occupies in Europe. The economic, military and political ties of Brazil and other major Latin American countries with Russia and China are getting stronger.

And this would not be without consequences for America’s foreign policy and its recent budget crisis. There is a growing awareness that America’s huge debt, as Professor Valentin Katasonov emphasises, represents a «threat to the stability of the global economy». 

On the whole, the results of America’s foreign and domestic policies in 2013 are not promising anything particularly comforting for Washington. The house that Uncle Sam built is developing serious cracks in a number of directions: there is growing conflict in America’s relations with the majority of its allies; the possibility of US military intervention in international crisis situations without a UN mandate is tapering off; the US economy, which is built on the completely unbacked dollar, is being perceived as a threat to the global economy; the mood of protest is intensifying in the US itself, and there are large enclaves appearing in a number of major cities in which legitimate power is, essentially, no longer valid; and signs are increasing that there is a schism in America’s ruling elite… 

Does all of this not point to the fact that we will all soon be witnesses to the end of the Pax Americana project?

Tags: Germany  Iran  Middle East  US  Snowden 

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