Begging the Spying Question?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

The editors of Le Monde seem to have received advanced word on the content of President Obama’s big speech in Berlin later today. Let’s hope they’re wrong.


“Obama will propose a reduction of the American and Russian nuclear arsenals.” Good news, right?

Well yes – but that’s really not the subject his audience is going to be interested in! You just might have heard of recent revelations of programs with names like “Prism” which involved massive spying by US authorities on the telephone and electronic communications of, basically, everyone, certainly including German citizens. As NYT columnist Roger Cohen quite clearly pointed out on Monday (“Obama’s German Storm”), due to their past the Germans are particularly sensitive about such abuses. They will certainly want to hear what Obama is going to do about this, and likely not about the latest warhead-number that will result if the President can get his way with whatever measure he wants to propose.

I know that preparation for such major speeches requires long lead-times, but nonetheless if his big Brandenburg Gate speech this evening does turn out to deal solely with nuclear armament matters, it will be the sorriest attempt at mass attention-diversion we will have seen for a long, long time. And you can bet it will not work on the Germans. I hope to be able to offer some after-the-fact coverage from the German press along those lines in this forum.

But so OK: Nukes

Still, for the sake of exercise let us take these reports at their word and consider the issue of nuclear arms reductions. The Le Monde article specifically declares that Obama’s proposal will include US “tactical” nuclear weapons still stored in Europe, where many are wondering why – given the current geopolitical situation there – they were not removed a long time ago. (more…)

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