(UPDATED) How will the Irish Govt. respond to NSA spying?

(Update below)

This would be different…

The Irish govt. takes its citizens’ right to privacy extremely seriously; consequently, we have requested a full explanation from the United States… But let’s speak plainly: As a friend and partner of the US, we, like many other countries who expect and rely on the United States taking on the burden of global leadership, cannot expect to enjoy the benefits of that leadership without being more realistic about what it requires.

The emerging revelation about the scale of the NSA’s activities are a case in point. These stories reveal more than a simple problem of intrusion; they remind us of the global scale of the threat posted by extremists, the lack of sufficient international cooperation, and the consequences of leaving the US to carry a disproportionate burden of detecting and preventing threats not only to Americans but to people across the world.

With this in mind, Ireland is proposing a summit of leaders to discuss new terms of cooperation…”

Don’t get me wrong, the NSA stuff is completely unacceptable. Industrial espionage, spying on allies’ premiers, intruding on millions of foreign citizens, etc, etc.

And when the main outrage expressed in the US is from commentators annoyed with foreigners who have the audacity to complain, you can see how we got here.

The US has completely lost the run of itself on the grounds of “security”. But simply sneering that will make no difference to the imbalance between citizen and state we’re hurtling towards.

This phony debate is a waste of time. Be honest, do European governments even want to change the current modus operandi? Citizens surely do, as do those in South America and, obviously, the Middle East, but the Night Watchmen across Europe’s capitals? I’m far from convinced.

This morning Spain joined Germany and France in complaining loudly and publicly about the NSA’s global reach. But there was little in their complaints that acknowledged why the United States’ global reach is not simply the extension of a runaway hegemon (though it is partly that), but is the inevitable outcome of leaving the United States with burden of providing a security umbrella not only to its citizens but also to its allies.

If Europeans expect to enjoy social democratic lifestyles without investing a fraction of the real cost of security budgets that the withdrawal of the US guarantee would immediately enforce, can they really shout “I’m shocked, shocked I tell you” when the sausage-maker is revealed as using ingredients a little less organic than European palates can handle in polite company?

Maybe Irish leaders will help start a real conversation.


Maybe Irish leaders will help start a real conversation?

…or maybe not.

The Irish Times’ Harry McGee:

Kenny said he proceeded on the basis that his telephone was tapped but seemed to be unconcerned about it. It was evident from his reply that if the US was tapping his phone it wasn’t a matter of great concern for him, and he had no curiosity to find out.
At the same time, if the telephone of Angela Merkel was being tapped then that was an appalling situation.
The net message was. It’s happened but, sure, let’s move on.

Harry – in a an important piece – went on to remind us:

The Fine Gael ‘softly softly’ approach – ie zero criticism – is almost as abject of that of the Fianna Fáil government of the early 2000s, where then minister for foreign affairs Brian Cowen when to extraordinarily convoluted and mind-numbingly boring lengths not to utter the smallest sliver of criticism of the US’s plan to invade Iraq.

One of the more depressing aspects of the Irish Government’s pathetic public response (or rather, its non-response – or better still, it’s endorsement) is that you can be sure government officials believe this is clever and necessary diplomacy that will “help the American relationship”.

How naive.

Anyone reasonably familiar with how Washington D.C. works knows that the fastest way to lose credibility and relevance in this town is to concede the absence of any cojones.

Kenny’s determinedly loud servility not only confirms an image of Ireland in Washington less as a sovereign territory to be consulted and considered, than a refueling resource en route to to places where stuff is done.

By advertising his state’s honor as this effortlessly disposable, pre-warped, and ready for consumption, Ireland’s elected Prime Minister also weakens his state’s reputation within Europe – and at a time when a little muscle is long-overdue – by reinforcing an image as in Europe but not quite of it when EU-US adult conversations are needed.

Do Irish officials really see no middle ground between the embarrassing dereliction of duty they’ve chosen to adopt here, again, and some sort of hysterical over-reach?

If so, consider for a moment what this tells us about how they rate their own diplomacy skills.

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