Germany’s NSA Naivete

Building a Smarter German-American Partnership

Following President Obama’s exclusive interview with ZDF on Friday, Senior Editor of Der Tagesspiegel Malte Lehming noted that the German media largely characterized the president’s remarks as “too vague, too little, [and with] no change in course.” While criticizing the obvious and awkward charm offensive, Lehming argues that the president should have emphasized the changing nature of global cyber security. Rather than attempt to defend U.S. surveillance against Germans’ privacy concerns, President Obama could have used his remarks as a reality check. Lehming writes…

He would have said something like: “Dear Germans, welcome to the brave new world. A world of choices, some of which have to be made, even if you don’t like choosing.” What he didn’t want to shatter is the illusion, rife among many Germans, that it can become a big Switzerland, immune to great-power machinations. … No, Obama could have said, those long days are long behind us all. We live in a modern world in which computer viruses and worms can crash stock markets, cause mass panics, and so on.

This essay appears originally as an opinion essay in German in Der Tagesspiegel, and an English translation is available at the National Interest.

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