In the wake of revelations that the American government tapped the cellphone of Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, trans-Atlantic relations have reached a low point not seen since the Iraq war.
In fact, the current crisis may be worse: Back then it was a question of policy disagreement; this time, it is a matter of broken trust and personal humiliation, the worst thing that can happen to a political leader.
For Germans, it is particularly painful. We remember well the days of the Cold War, when East Germans like Ms. Merkel were spied on by the Stasi. Again, in some ways this is worse: The Stasi wasn’t our friend; America is.
In International Diplomacy 101, one learns that the most important ingredient of international cooperation is trust, easy to lose but hard to gain. How can Ms. Merkel, or anyone else in the European political leadership, ever trust the White House again?
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