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The enemy
by Thanos Kalamidas
2014-07-18 13:52:44
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Often overwhelmed by the sometimes inhuman historic facts about the WWII and what happened globally we don’t see what happened to Germany after the end of the world. A country divided in two states with daily hostilities including a 120 kilometres long, 3 metres high wall.

From 1945 Germany became a different kind of battlefield, sometimes more vicious than any other did and even though the Wall fell in 1990 the victims of this war still pay the coast and new revelations despite their unique historic interest have also brought great coast to lives in both sides.

I have personal memories form the Wall and even though I was a young teenager and a lot of things back then sounded like a game there was nobody of us who hadn’t heard somebody advising us to be careful what we say when we speak on the phone. “There was always somebody listening,” they used to say and with a nod point to the other side of the wall where the mighty STASI was watching and listening.

I also have memories from dark evenings where black tinted cars were speeding in the streets of Berlin heading for one of the bridges that connected the divided city. It was a game for us and we knew the name of that game, exchange spies. And then it was the shooting. Not often but sometimes you could hear it late at night and you knew that another one tried to escape. Tried to cross the deserted place that surrounded the Wall.

Warnings and announcement was a daily thing and anybody who has lived ion Berlin in 1960s and 1970s knows very well what I’m talking about. And they were not limited in newspapers and radio programs. You could hear them even in school yards and the houses. Be careful; they are watching they are listening.

There is one thing only if you have lived in Berlin that period you know and in a very twisted way hunts you for the rest of your life. Enjoy today because the tanks are coming tomorrow. And tomorrow was literally said. Especially when you knew that every move you did and every word you said was watched and heard from the other side.

Berlin was an extreme situation but the same thing expanded in all Europe that time. There was no month where a European state didn’t deport some kind of soviet or east European official of one or another embassy for spying. And stories about doubler and triple spying have given enough material to cover thousands of non-fiction books. There are writers who still write hundreds and hundreds of fiction books with spy stories form that era.

And all of them have common elements. The other side was always spying, eavesdropping, watching and conspiring. And the tanks were to follow.

But these were the bad old times, weren’t they? Today we all fight for the common prosperity. We fight against poverty and for education. For democracy and equality. Don’t we?

Last week was unveiled that a man was arrested in Berlin from the Federal police for selling classified documents to the American intelligent services. The irony, it happened in Berlin. And that while the German parliament was meeting for an inquiry regarding the tapping of the German Chancellor’s telephone form the American intelligent services. A few days before another man was arrested trying to break encryption internet messages. When this war started and we didn’t know it? Are American tanks to follow?

This is a very serious case and the American don’t understand that they play with fire here. Set aside that as a principal you don’t tap allies’ telephones, you don’t eavesdrop allies’ leaders. This is a hostile act by definition. To gather hard data and classified documents from a Germany with a chancellor who has experiences on what it means to be followed and listened, that’s really pushing the wrong buttons.

And of course two were arrested till now, but how many more are still working spying Germany from American intelligent services? And how many more out of Berlin, in Paris, in London, in Brussels or in other European state? And please don’t tell me that this is not spying, they are just conscious for terrorists because we are far beyond stupid excuses any more.

And if US president Barrack Obama wants to laugh with these accusations, the Europeans have started turning off and leaving away their mobiles when they want to talk about something serious, safe rooms have started appearing in official places for meetings and when they start talking there is always music in the background to confuse devices. This is the cold war all over again only this time the threat is coming from an ally.

But let’s say – just for the sake of the argument - that Obama is right and this is something that just happened without his permission and it has stopped. Well it hasn’t. So who pulls the strings?

The last decade and more there is a conversation on how all these patriot acts and different bills that voted to protect USA from terrorist have really done more harm than good. Volunteer the American citizens gave their personal life to the big brother and they did so even in the name of the ones who didn’t volunteer. They actually expanded they are patriot act internationally and every one who was endangering American interests was getting a ticket to Guantanamo. Apparently the lucky ones because the unlucky ones were getting tickets to Pakistani or Egyptian prisons where human rights is world unknown. If I remember well it was president Obama who had promised to close Guantanamo but …

In the name of all these patriot acts everybody is guilty till proven innocent and this I suppose includes the coward French and the militaristic Germans. And hey, don’t forget that just like UN, the offices of the EU is nothing more than hornets' nest for terrorists. Isn’t that the stereotypes American intelligent services foster for decades? But now they have the free card to also act. Is the patriot acts the congress and the American people and two presidents have authorized? All to protect America from the terrorists.

But in their path to fight enemies and not finding them there is a chance that they have created some. And one thing for sure, America doesn’t want Europe for enemy.

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Emanuel Paparella2014-07-18 15:28:43
Indeed Thanos, even Lincoln who said that one should keep one’s friends close and one’s enemies even closer, would never have advised to go that far with one’s allies and those who say that the end justifies the means are using utilitarian-Machiavellian ethics and are misguided at best; bad means usually corrupt even good ends, and that applies on both sides of the geo-political equation.

In the light of the recent terrible events in the Ukraine, whose responsibility will be assessed not so much by the black boxes but by the communication going on among Russian sympathizers (now even in the EU Parliament), before the Malasyan plane was shot down, your counsel is certainly appropriate; we ought to keep in mind that NATO may not yet be an anachronism after all, and that The US needs Europe and the reverse is also true, if it is to be a viable alliance: the EU also needs the US, or better, going it alone will not do the trick of deterring the bullies and the terrorists of this brave new world in which we presently live.

I wholly agree that spying on each other is certainly not a sign of mutual respect and cooperation; that can only lead to the loss of the noble goals of the alliance called NATO. I think that most Europeans and Americans would probably agree that such an outcome would be a tragedy indeed and would not augur well for the future of democracy within Western Civilization.

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