True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other. — Sen. Barack Obama, Berlin, July 2008.
Both among commentators and across America in general, there is a commonplace reaction to foreign anger provoked by offensive American actions: it is dismissive.
What are they getting worked up about? Aren’t they being hypocritical? What do they expect?
The pervasive attitude is one of indifference and beneath that an assumption that as much as others might protest, everyone ultimately bows to American might.
When Chancellor Merkel challenged President Obama on the issue of NSA surveillance, 62 percent of Germans approved of her harsh reaction, but an additional 25 percent felt she had not been harsh enough.
That’s German bluster, many Americans might now think.
But this outrage has the potential of being translated into a tangible, economic effect: opposition to a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement.
Since the latest revelations came out, some 58 percent of Germans say they support breaking off ongoing talks, while just 28 percent are against it. “We should put the negotiations for a free-trade agreement with the US on ice until the accusations against the NSA have been clarified,” says Bavarian Economy Minister Ilse Aigner, a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats.