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'The Americans have humiliated us again'

The Local · 11 Jul 2014, 12:53

Published: 11 Jul 2014 11:48 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Jul 2014 12:53 GMT+02:00

Marcel Dickow, from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, said ordering America's top spy to leave Berlin was “unprecedented" in the German-US relationship.

But he told The Local: “I don’t think it will have a negative effect long-term on German-US relations. The message sent is not ‘don’t stop talking to us’; it is rather ‘talk to us’.

“Talk more seriously with us Germans. It is more an attempt to send a signal that something has gone wrong, from a German perspective, over the last few months.”

He added: “My impression is that the Obama administration will respond very pragmatically. They will probably try to offer the Germans something in more talks behind closed doors.”

Olaf Boehnke, director of the European Council for Foreign Relations in Berlin, said the current situation was a "reality check" for Berlin.

"The expulsion confirms a noteworthy increase in the level of frustration felt by the political elite [in Germany]," Boehnke told The Local. "People's trust in America has been decreasing ever since 2003 with the Iraq War."

Boehnke said the new situation would likely lead to a more pragmatic, cost-benefit analysis of the transatlantic relationship. 

"Twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, the Germans have arrived in reality," said Boehnke.

SEE ALSO: The best German quotes about America

'Merkel isn't Obama's poodle'

The decision of Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to expel the CIA station chief was welcomed by most German newspapers.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung called the expulsion "an unequalled act of protest against American arrogance”.

But the left-leaning newspaper from Munich asked in an editorial: "Why does she [Merkel] still defer to the US when it comes to Snowden? The time has come to offer him asylum."

Former Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg wrote in Bild, the country's biggest-selling tabloid, that Barack Obama risked raising anti-Americanism in Germany.

The government's decision "should sound President Obama's alarm bells. He will have to change his political style of keeping his distance with a smile [and unfortunately often without a clue] if he doesn't want to enter the history books as the gravedigger of the transatlantic friendship," Guttenberg added.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warned Germany and America were “on the threshold of a diplomatic war”.

"The superpower apparently still has trouble understanding that it is no longer dealing with a partially sovereign state under its control. Merkel is not Obama's poodle. The message which she sent him now was necessary and without ambiguity," the conservative daily wrote.

'Oops, I did it again'

Journalist Jakob Augstein, meanwhile, quoted Britney Spears in his Spiegel Online column.

"The Americans spied on us again. Oops! And they humiliated us again. Oh, baby, baby! They played with our hearts. We thought it was love. But that was a mistake."

Augstein added: "The bitter truth is the relationship between the Americans and us resembles that between a dog and its owner. And unfortunately the American owner doesn't love the German dachshund. The owner only needs it to occasionally fetch something."

SEE ALSO: Germany calls on US to wipe spy slate clean

Story continues below…

Few reactions showed understanding for the American position apart from the conservative Welt newspaper.

"Everybody is spying on everybody else… that's the way it goes between friends," said the newspaper.

Trying to stand in American shoes, it wrote in an editorial: "A woman from the GDR - formerly a socialist youth group official, and during the peaceful revolution the spokeswoman for an unofficial Stasi spy - as chancellor; an Eastern pastor as president; a successor of the SED (East Germany's ruling party) in parliament; … a former chancellor on the payroll of Putin's Gazprom – and a successful economy with close business ties to still-communist China.

"Hitler's Volkswagen on its way to becoming the world's biggest car maker. That makes the American suspicious.”

The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), meanwhile, warned the spying scandal could cause German companies to show restraint in the United States.

Volker Treier, from the DIHK, said in an interview with the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Friday that the current discussions could lead to a loss of confidence among German companies doing business in the United States.

SEE ALSO: Germany expels US spy station chief

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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