The most recent developments of the Edward Snowden leaks embarrass me as an European.
After the initial revelations, what more recent information tells us, is that the US also had spy programs to monitor the communications of European countries and institutions. The European reaction to this has been sad to watch. On one front, Mr Barroso (head of the European Commission) said he was “deeply concerned” with the “very disturbing” revelations of espionage between allies, and courageously declared that meetings would take place! (I boldly predict that nothing will come of nothing). On another front Martin Schulz, the German president of the European Parliament, said: “I believe Mr Snowden showed us that the United States of America treats its closest partners including Germany, for example, but also the European Union as a whole like hostile powers. [..] That is absolutely unacceptable”.
So what, is a “deeply concerned” Europe doing in response to the “very disturbing” and “absolutely unacceptable” behavior? The first thing that major European countries – Austria, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Spain – did was to deny asylum to Snowden. Other countries, namely France and Portugal are denying airspace transit to airplanes that they suspect might have Snowden on board – in particular the official aircraft of the Bolivian president Evo Morales. The European actions go against the recommendation of Amnesty International because they leave Snowden vulnerable to being treated as Bradley Manning was when he was captured (treatment that the UN called “inhuman and degrading”). There is no point even considering the UK authorities who, on a separate case under US orders, enforce the exile of a man who is not charged with any crime – other than offending US officials by publishing information revealing lies and massacres.
The outraged Europeans therefore chose to deny minimal security to the person responsible for exposing these “disturbing” and “absolutely unacceptable” US actions, and humiliate the Bolivian president to show the US how much they care. This is what we want in the world stage: a credible, morally consistent, strong, and independent Europe! US officials and European ministers might be happy, but European citizens should not.