After only five months in Berlin, the U.S. ambassador to Germany was “astonished” at the depth of “paranoia” among German politicians over suspected U.S. foreign policies, even conservative allies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Paranoia runs deep, especially about U.S. intelligence agencies,” Ambassador Phillip Murphy said in a confidential cable to the State Department in February.
Mr. Murphy was reporting on German members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who voted to reject a terrorist finance-tracking agreement with the United States. He said the embassy expected left-wing German MEPs to oppose the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program in a Feb. 11 vote but was surprised by the opposition from members of Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and an allied party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).
“We were astonished to learn how quickly rumors about alleged U.S. economic espionage … gained currency among German parliamentarians in the run-up to the vote …,” said Mr. Murphy, who arrived in Berlin in September 2009.
Mrs. Merkel was privately enraged that CDU and CSU members who had assured her of their support double-crossed her and voted with the majority of the parliament in rejecting the agreement. (In July, the parliament reversed itself and approved the program.)
She also worried that Washington might think Europe dismissive of the terrorist threat and feared a backlash from the White House if an attack occurred that could have been prevented under the renewal of the program.
Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust told Mr. Murphy about Mrs. Merkel’s reaction to the vote, describing her as “very, very angry — angrier than he had ever seen her,” according to the cable, one of tens of thousands released by WikiLeaks in its controversial dump of diplomatic documents.
“Merkel expressed concerns to Beust that Washington will view the EP [European Parliament] vote as a sign that Europe does not take the terrorist threat seriously. Merkel also worried about the ramifications … that might follow were a terrorist attack to occur that could have been prevented …,” the cable said.
EYES OF A KILLER
Russian President Vladimir Putin has the eyes of a killer, the European Union will never be a “real power,” and the European Union had to accept inferior members in a political bargain to get several former communist nations into the alliance.
Sometimes diplomats say the most candid things, even in public.
Christopher Patten, a former European commissioner for foreign affairs, offered those assessments of Europe in a 2004 speech in Brussels, according to a confidential diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
“I’m not saying that genes are determinant,” Mr. Patten noted, recalling that Mr. Putin (now Russia’s prime minister) was a member of the old Soviet KGB secret police, his father a top communist and grandfather one of Lenin’s bodyguards.
“He seems a completely reasonable man when discussing the Middle East or energy policy, but when the conversation shifts to Chechnya or Islamic extremism, Putin’s eyes turn to those of a killer,” Mr. Patten said.
He predicted that the EU will never be a “real power” because too many EU officials are “overly cautious.”
“To be a real power, a country must be ready and able to adopt and implement a policy, even if the rest of the world considers it unwise,” said the cable, paraphrasing Mr. Patten.
It added that Mr. Patten complained that several countries were “foisted” upon the EU as a political price to admit eight northern European countries in 2004.
“Cyprus, for instance, probably should not have been admitted … but the Greek insisted on Cypriot admission as the price of agreeing to some of the northern European candidates,” the cable said.
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