The PRISM affair, symbol of American hyper-helplessness

04
Aug
The PRISM affair, symbol of American hyper-helplessness
  • Edouard Tetreau
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NSA’s spying against its allies created an intolerable climate. Europe has to henceforth suspend its agreement of free-exchange with the United States and require them to pledge their confidence.

“What do we know? Nothing.” The moral of the Coen brothers’ film, Burn After Reading (2008), American intelligence industry satire, is particularly encouraging and promising for the millions of French who discovered that the American NSA spied on them, at the rate of 70.3 million intercepted communications per month. In the last scenes of the film, Osborne Cox, CIA star analyst, overwrought, played by John Malkovitch, plants an ax between the shoulder blades of a stranger, who he believes was his wife’s lover. After several months of investigations, the finest members of the US secret service suspend this industrial espionage and intra-spouse case, that they no longer understand, hardened by the mass of contradictory information collected in numerous ways by a second-rate and at the same time over-manned bureau.

The film is hilarious. The reality of the current American shift is definitely not as funny. For the last few weeks, it seems that the United States has lost its sense of direction and its allies. There was first “Slapstick in Syria” operation: America tracing yellow and red lines in all senses, looking passively at its opportunity to cross the border. 200,000 dead and a gas attack later, America finishes by following Mr. Puttin’s diplomatic initiatives to the letter, giving unprecedented legitimacy to Mr. Assad’s most active military and most cynical support.

Then, it played “Clown at the Capitol” until the gates closed. For many weeks, the Republican party, majority in the American Capitol, took the administration of the first economic power in the world hostage, playing with its domestic currency credit, the dollar, that is also, for only a short while longer, the anchor of the global monetary and financial system.

For the past ten years, and the Iraq invasion, not a day goes by that we do not witness the disturbing spectacle of American hyper-helplessness. Development: Having lost its course and compass, Obama’s America mistreats its strongest allies one after another. It scrutinizes all of its communications with France, one of the few countries with which it has never gone to war, but is unable to read or predict what is happening in Asia, from Beijing, to Pyongyang, to Seoul, to Tokyo. It opened accelerated discussions with Iran, the future nuclear power, leaving its traditional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, on the sidelines. It could not care less about the consequences of its monetary politics unrestrained throughout the world, in particular with its European, South-American and Asian partners. The reports released yesterday by the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty attest that drones, directed by personnel possibly more effective than Osborne Cox, simultaneously target hundreds of Islamist terrorists and innocent civilians in Pakistan, a combined nuclear power.

Obama’s America does not seem to grasp the global agenda, yet alone his own. Yet, these recent and growing risks could increase. We must anticipate on the short term of three years, an America led by a President less open to the world, less thoughtful and more isolationist than Mr. Obama.

What can we do concretely? We have to seize the opportunity of this crisis of trust to rebuild a virtuous exchange. The current discussions on a transatlantic agreement are the source of growth and job creation in Europe and in the United States, have to be stalled sine die. It is time for the United States to realize the damage caused by its systematic spying of France, of the European commission and all the countries in the EU, is a dangerous impasse. Who, in Brussels, Paris, or even London, would dare sign a “balanced” deal under current conditions, while their American partner can read the preparations and negotiations on this side of the Atlantic like an open book? This pact, based on lies, mistrust and dissimulation would be doomed to fail.

What reasonable steps could be taken by Washington DC to regain its lost trust? Simply, give the keys to the PRISM program to its longtime allies, chiefly among them France and the United Kingdom. In other words, it is to America to return to its allies- without penalty- all the digital data on European citizens, that it stole illegally.

The unreasonable alternative would be for Europe, particularly France, to use all means necessary to recover its sovereignty in the strategic field of personal digital data, Internet and telecoms. By saying “all means”, this includes increasing military cyber defence. What would be needed to crack the American military defence program, to recover the PRISM data, that belongs to Europeans, as illegally as the way it was collected?

The motto “Don’t be evil”, for the terminally naive, reminds us of a nice Google. We will write another for Mr. Obama: “Be smarter”. The time for a truly equal deal between the Europeans and the Americans has come.

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