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View Diary: Germany Escalates Conflict Over US Spying (190 comments)

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  •  that's likely to never happen (0+ / 0-)

    simply because the Bundesrat and Bundesstag will never support such a move.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 07:31:26 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Why not? (7+ / 0-)

      They've already asked him to testify, so what would it be to them to offer him asylum. I'm also not sure that the Bundesrat and Bundestag would have to approve of anything. Germany already has laws about asylum that are applied by the executive. Offering asylum or not would be up to Merkel and the German equivalent of Immigration.

      No War but Class War

      by AoT on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:04:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  because they already have? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT

        http://rt.com/...

        I'm less than clear on the legal steps so you might be right about the Bundesrat and Bundestag. At the same time even it is a move the chancellor can make on her own that could result in her coalition falling apart. Thus it's still not going to happen because Merkel likes being in charge.

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:08:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They changed their mind about the invite (3+ / 0-)

          because the government, meaning the executive, said it would damage US-Germany relations. And that was two months ago, before the new spying was discovered. The views of the current government seem to be changing pretty drastically and I don't think that it would destroy the coalition by any stretch. The captured spy and Germany's response did as much if not more damage than asylum for Snowden would do.

          It's really a question of what their requirements for asylum are I suppose and who decides who meets those requirements. Snowden may be exempted because he's from the US or because of why he is wanted by the US. I'd bet that the folks in charge of deciding that have a fair amount of leeway, although I also doubt the normal channels are what he'd go through. Germany has been pretty welcoming for asylum seekers in the past but it would really take someone with actual knowledge of the specific laws, i.e. not me, to say how exactly it would work.

          This article from before the most recent spy was found seems to indicate rising support for Snowden to get asylum. At this point I think it's just a matter of how hard a line Merkel decides to take. Cancelling government contracts says to me that there is a decent likelihood that he can get asylum. The main problem in legal terms is that asylum seekers need to actually be in the country, so he'd have to make his way to Germany before he would be eligible. From what I can tell this is true of pretty much everywhere, although in some cases the embassy of the country would be good enough.

          Honestly, I'm surprised that Germany has gone as far as it has. If you would have told me they'd be this active on the issue I would hardly believe it. I think the likelihood of asylum rises every day.

          No War but Class War

          by AoT on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:32:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I would think that it would (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, Victor Ward

            be almost entirely a political issue. When it came up earlier it seemed to be caught up in German domestic political conflicts. They could be moving toward greater consensus on the matter.

          •  I guess we will see (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT

            but until Germany actually issues the invitation I will remain skeptical of them doing so. And I will remain completely skeptical of Snowden getting asylum or even accepting it considering he seems to enjoy being Putin's sock puppet.

            And canceling government contracts is just a form of protectionism that she knows she can get away with. It's really just part of how this works.

            That said I will not be completely surprised because the US has never been particularly close to Germany. This is reflected in Germany's status on intel sharing (it's either in the first 10 or first 15 I forget which). That said Germany needs the US more than the US needs Germany so I guess we will see what happens.

            Der Weg ist das Ziel

            by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:47:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Um, no (6+ / 0-)

          If Merkel (and her cabinet) would change her mind on this, it would pass both Bundestag and Bundesrat in a hot minute.

          Edward Snowden is very popular in Germany and the prior decision by Merkel and her government to deny Mr. Snowden asylum is seen in most circles as an appeasement strategy to the US government. And it is a quite unpopular decision.

          There exactly zero chance of the grand coalition falling apart over this, given how the SPD is pretty much the CDU nowadays with a little more social bent. The two parties speak with one voice in matters of foreign policy. Sadly the social democrats have mainstreamed themselves almost out of existance.

          •  that is one possiblity (0+ / 0-)

            the other is that Merkel's government would collapse.

            Snowden is popular among some parts of Germany but German politicians are probably very reluctant to really get into this issue. I can't say I blame them given they've admitted publicly to using trojan spyware and more on their own citizens.

            Der Weg ist das Ziel

            by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 09:20:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If the government changed (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cybrestrike

              its policy there is zero possibility that it would trigger public outrage.

            •  Dude, no. (7+ / 0-)

              You apparently don't understand German politics at all. I am German and political science was one of my secondary fields in college.

              While the CDU and SPD have philosophical differences on social and economic issues, they are still quite near to each other on many other issues and on foreign policy they are near identical. While the SPD made some noise during the election about having to protect Germany against intrusive NSA/GHCQ spying, that proved to be just political prattle as soon as the election was over and they went into a coalition with the CDU. The SPD shut up almost completely about the topic afterwards and did nothing. The two parties had planned to implement data collection laws, but after the European court determined that the data preservation of private data by the government was unconstitutional under European laws, they were abashed into ashamed silence on the topic (aside from the usual idiots from both parties, but even those have stopped talking about the topic lately).

              Anyway, the two parties are like this in terms of foreign policy and if their joint government decides to grant asylum to Snowden, it will be because the heads of both parties agreed to it, i.e. chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD).

              The parliament has not much to do with those kind of decisions the Merkel/Gabriel makes. And we got our "Fraktionszwang", meaning that there is the tradition of voting en bloc with the leadership of your party. Protest votes are usually not very common at all and would not happen in a way even close to what you seem to assume could destabilize the government (who combined got more than 60% of the vote, btw).

              •  really? (0+ / 0-)

                So you don't think the SPD would use this issue to try and take back power? Because I do.

                Der Weg ist das Ziel

                by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 09:44:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  They can't take back power without (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FogCityJohn, cybrestrike

                  a general election. They just had one.

                  •  as I understand it (0+ / 0-)

                    all they need is a new majority like any parliamentarian government.

                    Der Weg ist das Ziel

                    by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 09:47:42 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And if Merkel is on the side of those in favor (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Richard Lyon, cybrestrike

                      of asylum then they've got a majority. I honestly doubt this is worth losing a spot in the current government for any party. I feel like we're making a much bigger deal of this than it is. It's not like they'll get kicked out of NATO for offering Snowden asylum.

                      No War but Class War

                      by AoT on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:01:50 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  you sure about any of that? (0+ / 0-)

                        politicians tend to all be alike. They tend to not want to rock the boat too hard

                        Der Weg ist das Ziel

                        by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:04:37 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Check out magnuskn's comment below (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          cybrestrike

                          for a better detailed response, but basically, yes, rocking the boat is not something that politicians like to do and if Merkel's government granted asylum dropping out of a coalition would be considered rocking the boat politically. I feel like asylum for Snowden is a bit overblown as a political issue for us here at DailyKos. Kicking out the top spy seems to be far more provocative in my eyes, as well as canceling the Verizon contract. While that may be mostly symbolic it does have actual real world consequences, unlike asylum.

                          No War but Class War

                          by AoT on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:10:07 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I can understand that to an extent (0+ / 0-)

                            but the first is just political tick for tat and the second is just protectionism. I have no doubt that contract was going to be canceled regardless. I'm not going to try and predict what would happen because I think it's less than clear what the fall out would be.

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:12:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                •  That would presuppose... (7+ / 0-)

                  That they could make a coalition against the CDU. They can't... yet.

                  See, the situation is like this: There are at this time four parties in the Bundestag. The CDU (conservaties), the SPD (social conserv... errr, democrats), the Green Party (ecological conserv... errr, progressives. I guess. Kinda-sorta) and The Left (social democrats and calcified splinters of the socialist party of Eastern Germany).

                  The problem the SPD has is that The Left is composed of the splintered leftist part of what used to be the left wing of the SPD itself and the remnant of the socialist party of Eastern Germany + an assortment of ideologically non-flexible left-wing group, including some communists.

                  The current SPD leadership never got over one of the former SPD leaders, Oskar Lafontaine, splintering off that part of their party. That it happened was because of Gerhard Schröders neoliberal social reforms, which happened primarily on the back of the poorer segment of German society. The current leadership of the SPD is still very much enmeshed in that philosophy, due to them still mostly hailing from Schröders government.

                  As it stands, we could have a SPD/Green Party/The Left run Germany right now, since their total votes from the last election added up to them having more votes in the Bundestag than the CDU. But since neither the SPD nor the Green Party can find enough common ground yet with The Left, both of them decided that they would not do that coalition. This election cycle, that is. Sigmar Gabriel declared some months ago that they would hold tentative talks about a reapproachment with The Left. So far it hasn't gone anywhere near a point where the three parties could form a functioning coalition.

                  If for some reason the SPD would renege on the grand coalition, they would probably lose votes to the CDU and the Green party would pounce on the chance to form their first coalition with the CDU. German voters don't like political parties who openly behave erratically and forcing a new election after a few months would make the SPD look exactly like that.

                  So, there is no chance of the grand coalition dissolving itself over this matter. None.

                  •  interesting analysis (0+ / 0-)

                    Some of it I knew and some I didn't.

                    That said I'm unsure anyone could predict what would happen should Snowden be offered asylum.

                    Der Weg ist das Ziel

                    by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:08:14 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Actually, yes. (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Richard Lyon, AoT, KenBee

                      In terms of German politics, it is quite easy to predict what would happen.

                      There would be some grumbling from the really conservative guys both in the CDU/CSU and the SPD, mostly their secretaries of the interior, trans-atlantic friendship people and so on. But they would fall in line, because as for the CDU/CSU Merkel has emasculated the entire male leadership (seriously, she has just crushed any of the great male hopefuls in her own party during her time as party leader). And the SPD security conservatives don't wield real power in their party.

                      As for the opposition parties, they would cheer the CDU and SPD on, since they have been asking for a grant of asylum the entire time.

                      Now, as to what would happen in the Germany/USA relationship, that is a much more complex question, which would probably mean a lot of speculation. But for how German politics would react, it is easy to predict from my side.

                      •  well I agree and I disagree (0+ / 0-)

                        I will caution against being too confident you can predict how the largest disagreement in thel ast 60 years between Germany and the US would play out. Never mind how reminding German citizens how Germany has been as bad if not worse than the US on privacy would play into it.

                        Der Weg ist das Ziel

                        by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:29:41 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Again... (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          AoT, KenBee

                          I live in Germany, I've been following this very closely in the German media since last year. Yes, a lot of people are outraged over the spying issue.

                          But going by the polls and how the population has reacted during the last year, one can predict with near certainty that the population is going to let the two ruling parties handle this. There is only a very slight chance that this could develop into a scandal which could topple the government and that would have to be on the scale of revelations that Angela Merkel herself ordered the illegal data gathering against the law.

                          And even then I would not be sure that there would be enough political will in the two ruling parties to risk the danger of new elections.

                          As for how the Germany/US relationship will now develop, I already said that I can't make any accurate predictions. If I had to speculate, however, I think this will blow over in a few weeks, since Merkel is not the type of politician who is confrontational or populist. She prefers to work subtly towards her goals and tries to "sit out" any issues which make her look in a bad light.

                          •  that has nothing to do with it (0+ / 0-)

                            living in Germany (or not) doesn't make you an authority. That's a logical fallacy As to the rest I simply will await future developments.

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 11:02:18 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  True (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT, KenBee

                            Not everybody who lives in Germany is an expert on its politics.

                            Me being a German historian of socio-economic history with a secondary focus on political sciences (and latin american studies, but that is aside the point), however, kinda makes me someone who has an idea on what is happening in his own country.

                          •  if you say so (0+ / 0-)

                            and I'll note again I'm not inherently disagreeing with you just pointing out trying to predict the outcome of a major decision is a crap shoot at best.

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 11:13:10 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Well (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT, duhban

                            Political analysis is kind of what political sciences and being a historian is about. So it is in my purview to look back at how the current government and prior ones from the two ruling parties have handled themselves in international political conflicts like this. And to analyze how the German population has reacted in the last years (especially the last one) and how that will most probably play out with this latest issue.

                            There would have to be a revelation of cataclysmic power to make Merkel unpopular enough to give the SPD the impetus to move from their current position. She currently has an approval of 71% with the population. You make the math.

                            http://www.tagesschau.de/...

                          •  here's the thign (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm not going to get into where I have and have not lived. I accept your analysis while also not entirely agreeing with it. That's how it's going to be because I'm in a wait and see mode. Accept that or not but you will not be able to badger me into changing my mind.

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 02:22:27 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Not trying to (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            duhban

                            I've been long enough on the internet to know that changing minds almost never happens. The best I can do is cogently explain my position and (if challenged) defend it to the best of my ability. Any change of mind of anybody will have to happen on its own, anyway.

                          •  namaste (0+ / 0-)

                            I look forward to our next meeting truly. I thank you for your time and the discussion. It was truly knowledge expanding.

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:42:12 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

            •  Snowden is very popular in Germany (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              YucatanMan

              Very, very popular. Support for giving him asylum was not at a majority for the last poll I could find, but that was the end of last year and I'd bet that's changed with these recent revelations.

              No War but Class War

              by AoT on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 09:41:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  So you don't think the terrain has shifted (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, FarWestGirl

      considerably as of now? The BDN might was well be renamed the "Dropping Shoe Agency." (I wonder what that would be in one-word German?)

      The BDN's allies in the legislature are now rocking on their heels. Read this, posted just a couple months ago. If the terrain was such back then, what is it now?

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

      by nailbender on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:30:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  not really (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nailbender, AoT

        I think this is mostly posturing. Germany relies on the US both militarily and for exports. I don't doubt that the Greens and Lefts probably want to drop ties to the US but they can't even get the support to invite Snowden in to testify. Further right now there's no proof other than what these people have said from my understanding. I have seen today a new claim that one was a double agent for Germany. I have not however had the time to investigate this though I'm not sure that helps Germany's case.

        I mean they could act as such but all this right now reads as bluster. Snowden managed to embarrass the US and people will run with that till he runs out of material and then forget about him.

        PS Literally "Dropping Shoe Agency" would be Abwurfschuhagentur gotta love German compound words.

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:43:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was under the impression that Snowden (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Richard Lyon, duhban

          was invited to testify but the immigration/asylum/no passport issue got in the way. I don't see giving Snowden asylum as any less symbolic than what Germany has done so far. Really, it's far more symbolic than kicking out the spy master and cancelling a contract with Verizon.

          No War but Class War

          by AoT on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 09:01:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  not according to the article I linked earlier (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT

            I mean from my limited understanding Germany could waive the passport issue if it wanted. What really stopped Snowden was that only the Lefts and the Greens wanted him to come. Every single major party (as neither the Lefts nor the Greens are major party) would not commit to that. The reason said out loud was that it would irreparably damage US relations (which is quite probably true) but you need to remember that in many ways Germany's intelligence gathering is just as extensive and just as 'bad' as the US'. In fact the only major difference is that given how back bone internet travel works the US has greater access.

            There have been though a number of incidents about Germany spying on it's citizens that at the very least mirror what the US is accused of doing. So to me I have to wonder just how much of an issue the major parties want to make of this because they have to realize how tenuous the ground they stand on is.

            Der Weg ist das Ziel

            by duhban on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 09:12:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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