July 12, 2014

Why Would The U.S. Spy On Germany?

By Dr. Gary K. Busch 11/7/14

There are endless discussions today in Europe, especially Germany, about the U.S. spying on German politicians and institutions. The fact that these questions can be raised displays a level of naiveté that borders on the psychotic or delusional. The U.S. monitors its “friends” because they continue to follow policies in their national and international activities which impinge on, and often threaten, U.S. goals and interests. Just as it is their sovereign right to follow policies they believe are useful to them it is equally true that the U.S. has the right to monitor what they do to protect its own interests.

It is rich that the two most outspoken nations which criticise the U.S. monitoring are the two with the worst track records of acting unilaterally against the common “Atlantic” interest. Both Germany and France have a history of undertaking policies which counter U.S. interests. The problem in the post-Cold War period is that both France and a reunited Germany felt that the removal of the Soviet threat opened the doors for them to pursue policies which did not require expenditures on their own defence or to pay little attention to the effects of their actions on the broader security interests of the trans-Atlantic alliance; their ultimate security blanket.

One of the key reasons for this has been that the focus of danger under the Cold War strictures was the danger of the Soviet state and its associated communist parties. Post-war Europe saw danger as coming from the Left, or at least anything to the Left of Social Democracy. The French Communist Party (PCF) and the Italian Communist Party (CPI) did not disappear with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The followers of the Socialist Unity Party of East Germany (SED) did not disappear after the reuniting of Germany. They adapted and became democrats; even Angela Merkel. Across the new Europe the remnants of the former ruling communist parties learned to share power with their enemies. More importantly, there was a startling lack of reorganisation of the domestic military and political intelligence services across Europe.

The intelligence services of France remained the preserve of the French Masonic lodges and the graduates of ENA and SciPo. They moved in and out of government and industry as if on a giant conveyor belt. In Germany the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) remained staffed by the ex-Nazis that Gehlen brought with him to Pullach as well as the myriad undercover Stasi agents that Mischa Wolf managed to introduce into West German intelligence.

Across Eastern Europe there was a purging of sorts of the communist control of the national intelligence bodies but almost no changes took place across Eastern Europe in the military intelligence communities locked into co-operation with the Russian GRU. In Italy the remnants of Operation Gladio, the NATO-sponsored ‘stay-behind’ net allied with the P2 plotters of Licio Gelli and Flavio Carbone extended their power into political, economic and religious affairs. A similar phenomenon took place in Spain and Portugal, especially with the rise of the Opus Dei.

The fact that these intelligence services were largely untrustworthy is no surprise but their targets were usually the forces of the Left or the ad hoc anarchist movements of young people like the Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof Group) in Germany or the Red Brigades of Italy. That often meant that their aims coincided with those of the U.S. and it was possible to integrate some joint activities. After all, the BND was largely dependent on heavy subsidies from the U.S. A divided Germany was the hotbed of competition. When I worked in Munich in the early 1960s the city was full of activists from the NTS (Russian ‘Solidarists’), OUN (Ukrainian Nationalists) and scores of splinter groups hanging around the Institute for Russian Studies and Radio Liberty. They killed Russians and the Stasi and the Russians and the Stasi killed them.

At that time the U.S. policy was primarily focused on the ‘main enemy’, the communists. The lessons to learn from for CIA trainees were those expounded by Bill Harvey and Jim Angleton, danger lurked on the Left and its ties to a growing anti-colonial movement. As such it was perfectly all right to deal with German ex-Nazis, Italian ex-Fascists; Spanish ex-members of the “Movimiento” and a host of dubious characters from the Unione Corse , the Sicilian Mafia, the Camorra, the Chetniks, the Ustashi and after, the colonels in Greece. There was no one worth talking to in France as they were all Gaullists; Frenchmen who woke up one morning in June 1944 to find that they had been in the Resistance after all and their collaboration was all a ploy.

These close ties with the ragtag flotsam of post war European fascists or near fascists were very dangerous to the U.S. in that they missed out on the trend in Europe away from the hard and soft Left to a resurgence of political activity of the Right. In the last eight years there has been a polarisation across Europe which has brought to the fore a growing band of Right-wing politicians. The recent EU elections showed this in spades. Many of these groupings were the next generation of the groups with which the U.S. had worked in the sixties, seventies and eighties. They have grown in importance in Europe and are taking more power in their hands. The U.S. is sure they must be watched quite closely.

Yet these problems seem less significant when compared to the rise of fundamentalist Islam across Europe. Awareness of Islamic fundamentalism dawned on policymakers with the Munich Olympics, the airplane adventures of Leila Khaled and the ties which were growing with the disaffected non-Islamic young people across Europe. These young people were attracted by the anti-establishment behaviours of the new terrorists and the new drugs they were bringing to market. The European intelligence services largely gave these terrorists a long lead and room to breathe.

When I was visiting Bulgaria on business on a regular basis I used to see the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves of Turkey sitting in the casino atop the New Otani Hotel in Sofia being wined and dined by the Bulgarian DGI and the state trading company Kintex. Bechir Celenc and, Memet Ali Agca (the man who shot the Pope) were regulars there. They set up massive smuggling rings, primarily into Germany, for drugs and weapons. The BND were large unconcerned as they were dealing with communists instead.

The most important reason for the U.S. to monitor these changes on their own is that the national governments of the European countries have decided to take advantage of the opportunities to extend their economic reach by trading with those nations whom the U.S. feels are not deserving of such largesse.

A good example is the deal made by German Rheinmetall and the Russians. Rheinmetall partnered with a Russian company, JSC Oboronservice, to build a Russian army training centre (RATC) in Mulino, 350 km (217 mi.) east of Moscow. The project began in June 2011 and was completed in June 2014. Rheinmetall has developed the live combat-simulation system and is in charge of technical implementation of the project, including commissioning and quality assurance. It is delivering the training management and information system, laser engagement systems for a thousand players-both vehicles and soldiers-the exercise control centre, Tetra data communication system, instrumentation for three military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) facilities, and the warehouse and fitting facility.

Personnel due to be trained at this facility started their training at the beginning of 2013 and on-site in Russia later that same year. They have now moved entirely into Mulino in time for the invasion of Crimea and the introduction of little green men in Eastern Ukraine. The details of this project were not made available to the U.S. as they were considered “commercial”.

As the Germans were building a modern high-tech training base for the Russian Army, the French were busy building sophisticated naval vessels for the Russians. The building of four Mistral class ships for the Russian Navy was commissioned in 2011 as part of a $1.7 billion technology-transfer agreement between Moscow and Paris. Under this agreement, the first two ships — the Sevastopol and the Vladivostok — were to be built by the French shipbuilding firm STX at Saint-Nazaire with Russian engineers on site to learn the techniques of modern shipbuilding.

The Sevastopol has been completed, and is due to be commissioned by the Russian Navy on Nov. 1. The Vladivostok will not be completed until later this year, and is expected to join the fleet in 2015. Russia then has the option of producing the second two Mistral carriers at home, but no decision has yet been made. Russia is desperately trying to improve their naval capabilities. They need larger, more advanced ships like cruisers and carriers, but the Russian naval budget cannot afford to build them abroad. That is why there are scores of Russian engineers and technicians in St. Nazaire learning the techniques of building these ships so that they can start building them at home. The Mistral is much more advanced than anything the Russian shipbuilding industry can currently produce. Moreover, it will not function without the introduction of very sophisticated communications system for the command and control systems – a sophistication missing in current Russian skill sets. While it is not clear whether the French have agreed to make this high-tech transfer of technology it is of some interest to the U.S. who will have to work out the details for itself as France is not forthcoming with the information.

The Germans and the French are not just reluctant to detail the types of technology transfer going on with Russia they deny that the U.S. has a need to know this information as it is a commercial transaction. Both the French and the Germans are upset that the U.S. feels it can punish companies (in this case banks) for violating the rules. On the 10th of July the heads of French and German industries issued a press statement saying “The United States is not playing fairly in its trade with Europe and is deliberately undermining Europe's banking system.” Ulrich Grillo, the head of the BDI (German Industrial Federation) said in an interview published both in the German daily FAZ and the French newspaper Les Echos that there must be a freer regulation of the banking industry and accused the U.S. of seeking to "starve" European banks by slapping huge fines on them.

The French bank BNP was recently fined nearly $9.0 billion (6.6 billion euros) for violating US sanctions against blacklisted countries including Iran and Sudan and is investigating Germany's second-biggest bank Commerzbank on the same suspicions. The country's biggest lender Deutsche Bank has set aside billions of euros in provisions in case it is fined too. The Europeans are breaking the rules to which they agreed and are now complaining about paying fines when they are caught in their breach. Small wonder that they don’t want the U.S. to ask questions on its own. They prefer to nudge and wink and hope their actions will be overlooked. They also do not want to place sanctions on Russia for its actions in the Ukraine as they will suffer on the bottom line.

So, one should expect more self-righteous indignation by Germany and her friends in calling for the U.S. to stop spying on them. Lots of luck. In the words of Don Corleone “Mantenere i vostri amici vicini ma i vostri nemici più vicini” (Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer).


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