Angela Lights Fuse
Dmitriy SEDOV | 11.08.2014 | OPINION

Angela Lights Fuse

he history of international relations offers no examples of a large and influential state calling for partners to uncover the “moles” working on its territory.  The logic of such request would imply “I don’t recruit spies and won’t let you do it.” Now the precedent is set. The government of Angela Merkel requests other countries to submit full lists of their special services agents working in Germany.  

Few of German agents have ever been uncovered. It is not because the German intelligence is so good or, to the contrary, sleeps on the job. When in power the Social Democrats managed to reduce dependence on spying against the East thanks to agile diplomatic efforts along with personal contacts at the top level. For instance, Egon Bahr, who was close to then Chancellor Willie Brandt, reached an effective agreement on classified information exchange with the USSR. The BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst – the Federal Intelligence Service) could only dream of such efficiency. Germany strictly complied with the agreements between special services and did not recruit spies in allied states. It made Anglo-Saxons happy; they never adhered to any reached agreements whatsoever.  There was rather limited demand for the BND information. In truth, the BND has never been a top-flight espionage outfit. Now the service is lagging behind the partners when it comes to human intelligence. Angela Merkel used this in her political game.  In a way, it gives her a right to say “I don’t recruit spies and won’t let you do it.”  What is the reason behind the Chancellor’s demand to give away other countries agents working in Germany?  She perfectly understands that a ban on human intelligence activities conducted by other countries is no more effective than a ban on prostitution. You can ban it in so many ways on so many days; it will always exist everywhere you go. 

She knows there have been no precedents in history when special services uncovered their secrets on their own. There is only one exclusion from the rule when Vadim Bakatin, the head of the KGB at the time, presented U.S. Ambassador Robert S. Strauss with the blueprints for the embassy bugs. But this is a special case more related to the history of treason. It’s not about cleaning the German government buildings from foreign “moles”. The request is a step to reflect the sentiments that had been brewing since a long time ago. Germany is tired of American haughtiness and disrespect for its national dignity.

True, it had to reconcile with the fact that American diplomatic and other offices in the country were seething with spies till two world systems existed.  The hordes of spies appeared to protect the Trans-Atlantic interests, so German governments turned a blind eye on their activities.  Before the collapse of the Soviet Union the US embassy in Bonn had a staff exceeding a thousand people, the number going beyond any imaginable limits. The US intelligence activities encompassed Germany’s government offices. There were fierce but silent conflicts raging behind the scenes when the spies were uncovered. But Germany had to put up with all that.

Now twenty years have passed and that is the limit - the patience is over. According to Spiegel Online, this provocative request shows how much Germans are frustrated over the continuing foreign spying activities conducted on their territory. About 200 US agents work under diplomatic cover in Germany while other countries’ stations number only a few.  There is an official Central Intelligence Agency’s representative at the US embassy responsible for the exchange of information with German partners. He was expelled in July. Evidently his activities included informal gathering of information while he commanded an army of agents working under cover.

Being informed on uncovering US agents within the ranks of German military and intelligence services Angela Merkel hit the nail right on the head saying the spying activities against one’s own allies is nothing but money squandering. Her words reflect the indignation of the way Germany is treated by the United States.

Senseless throwing money away is explained by the fact that the US ruling circles have obsolete mentality never evolved since the 1980s – early 1990s as they saw a chance to turn the world into their turf back then.  Barack Obama has just demonstrated this mentality saying to congress that the “America, as the most powerful country on Earth, still does not control everything around the world”.

Germans don’t want to put up with the US intrusion constantly watching every German and listening to people’s phone conversations as it tries to control the country through the net of agents.  Germans have other views on what partnership is about.  Moreover, they don’t like the Washington’s international adventures as it is going to implement the “iranization” policy towards Russia and “afghanization” policy towards Ukraine. They understand that the upcoming economic collapse of Ukraine will hit Europe which was imprudent enough to play up to the United States as it was kindling the Ukrainian crisis. Europe and Russia should localize the fallout resulting from the would-be Ukraine’s collapse to prevent the domino effect, something Europe cannot afford. 

The demand of German government to clean the country from foreign human intelligence is the beginning of the process as Germany tries to fight inequality in its relationship with the United States. The demand is addressed to all reflecting the intent to let the discontent be known to London too as the UK is submissively following the European policy of Washington.

Actually Germany is introducing a new approach to the idea of Atlantic unity. It could be defined as “friends are OK when they don't get in the way.” The request put forward by Berlin is kind of a fuse lit to produce a larger spark. It may result in a blast of a mine laid a long time ago. Big changes are expected to affect the relationship of Atlantic partners pretty soon.

Tags: Merkel 

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