The scandal stirring since the day before yesterday, centred on suspicions of US eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel phone, may cause quite a bump in relations between European leaders and White House.
To begin with: not clear, when and in what magnitude the phone was bugged. The information reached German govt the night mentioned above, Mr Merkel immediately ringing up US president Barack Obama. By phone, mark you! Mr Obama did indeed refute the claims; even so, Ms Merkel would hardly have rung him up had the info not been trustworthy enough. Also, the call would not have made the news.
Secondly: did they only eavesdrop on Germany? Why Germany, of all places? Has Ms Merkel given Mr Obama cause not to trust her as ally? Hardly so. Thus, it is more realistic to believe that once they eavesdropped, they eavesdropped on most of the heads of state – not just Ms Merkel with her stable foreign policy.
Thirdly: why on earth should US eavesdrop on European governments after all? As it is, White House may ask ever so straight questions in most European capitals – the mutual dependency as allies being too deep for lies and cover-ups to make much sense.
Has US eavesdropped or «bugged» phones of Ms Merkel or any other European leader, or monitored their use of telephones in any other way, the question «why?» is most important. Yet, with no answer. Just in case? Possessing the technology, why not use it? Does US not trust us Europeans, after all?
The entire scandal should be convincingly explained, in order not to breed speculations of US intelligence preparing some divide-and-conquer type new world order. Which would be paranoid, for sure. Not more paranoid, though, than eavesdropping «just in case».
Even at the ongoing EU summit, the bug scandal serves to divert attention from economic and immigration issues. Clearly indicating: the apparent US distrust is taken seriously indeed, in capitals of Europe.
Generally speaking, Europe-US relations have been good, as we share common values and problems alike. Nevertheless, cross-Atlantic cooperation only works effectively in atmosphere of mutual trust. Surely, long-time beneficial partnership relations will not be shattered by the eavesdropping claimed by Ms Merkel and denied by Mr Obama. Even so, a crack has appeared. Not in the interest of US or Europe, though. Welcome fuel, perhaps, into the tanks of those not sharing our common values, not busy solving problems but rather sowing such.