'Main challenge Obama faces is Germany's heavy dependence on Russian gas' - expert
Over time, the revelations have disclosed that the US government was monitoring emails and phone calls, as well as collecting visual images of common citizens that have nothing to do with crime. Critics within the US claim that the government overstepped its legal boundaries and that the activities need to be rolled back, while the authorities claim that everything has been strictly in line with the law and that it is necessary to combat terrorism. Michael Desch, professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and an expert on American national security policy, shared details on Germany's surveillance and anti-surveillance policies in an interview with radio VR.
He said the United States and Germany have been "in tentative discussions" about intelligence sharing lately, the Germans pushing for their status to be finally upgraded to that of the so-called Five Eyes countries. These are the ones the United States maintains a very "intimate" intelligence collaboration with, particularly when it comes to sharing signals and electronic intelligence.
Essentially, being a full-fledged part of the Five Eyes union grants immunity to US' intelligence collecting against the member states.
"The discussions of that had been on and off but appear to have gone nowhere. My view is the initiation now of a criminal investigation in Germany is part of the endgame of that failed process," states Mr. Desch.
Mr. Desch goes on to say Germans are a perfectly close ally of the United States being "the key pillar of Europe" in the scope of Obama's line of actions, even more so amid the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. A criminal enquiry seems to be a nice opportunity to elicit some confessions out of the United States, the expert notes. "Whether that will work or not, is a question."
Chances are the criminal investigation now launched may ultimately result "not in much," says Mr Desch, even though the Germans can possibly make good use of Snowden leaks as well as initiate their own investigation, which, he's sure, by no means can worsen US-Germany relationship. He refers to the United States and Israel ties as an example:
"These sorts of things happen all the time among American allies. Look at the relationship between the United States and Israel, which on the one hand is very intimate but on the other both sides are actively engaged in espionage against each other. I don't see it having a major effect down the road on the relationship.”
Mr Desch expresses certainty that whatever grand leaks on US' policy come from German sources, the relationship between the two will stay intact, since this is what "the game" is all about. The main difficulty, perhaps, the US is now faced with is Germany being heavily dependent on Russian natural gas deliveries.
"There are limits to how far they can go in terms of taking a confrontational stance vis-à-vis Russia. So I don't think it has much to do with spying and has everything to do with differences in geopolitical interests between Germany and the United States."