Now Angela Merkel discovers Washington set up a listening post in Berlin to monitor her cell phone. How brazen can you be? What are those people at the NSA thinking?
Brazil, Mexico, France, Germany. Our friends around the world are discovering what we have known here for a long time: you cannot trust the United States government. We were the leader of the free world. Not anymore. An untrustworthy leader is not a leader.
Remember this lesson from your childhood, too: once you lie to someone, that person won’t trust you again. When you lie habitually, your reputation spreads, and no one trusts you. An individual might forgive a particular instance of lying, but people won’t trust you. Why? Because once you betray someone’s trust, your former friend has no reason to give it back.
How bad can a world without trustworthy leadership get? You are seeing it unfold right now. We used to call it the Arab Spring.
“If any foreign leader is talking on a cellphone or communicating on unclassified email, what the U.S. might learn is the least of their problems.” ~ Dennis C. Blair, President Obama’s first director of national intelligence, explaining why he has little patience for the complaints of foreign leaders.
Suppose you invite a friend over for dinner. While in your house, your friend plants miniature microphones where you can’t see them. You keep up a close relationship with the individual, and years later you discover one of the bugs in your bedroom. You confront your friend with the discovery, and he dismisses you out of hand: “If you think you can make love on an unclassified mattress, and think no one is listening, that’s the least of your problems. You’ve become a public distraction.”
You’ve discovered that your so-called friend deceived you, played you for a sucker the whole time. From his perspective, you aren’t a friend or even a colleague, just a mark, another person to exploit. Angela Merkel should kick the feds out of Germany, for good. That would set a good example. Restoration of trust in this relationship won’t happen.
I’m amazed that people speaking for the president, and for United States intelligence agencies, have treated Merkel so dismissively. European leaders can ostracize the snoops and spooks in Washington over a real breach of faith. Germany, and Germany’s friends in NATO, should honor themselves and do it.