“Germany now has a bright foot in the door”, or, U-boats of the Indo-Pacific

So writes Felix Seidler – somewhat gleefully, as he explains the benefit of Singapore’s purchase of two Type 218SG U-boats.

In addition to the potential for these lucrative arcontracts, Germany has an interest in a stable, peaceful maritime arc running from Singapore and Vladivostok. China’s re-armament, coupled with a more assertive military doctrine, and its aggressive enforcement ensures the opposite.

Seidler flags growing doubt about the US pivot in the region, and says “the countries of the region must be able to balance China’s rise, at least partially, by themselves. Therefore, German-built subs can surely do their share.”

As the post-WWII order erodes, you can’t help but wonder where it will leave Germany. Just weeks ago, erstwhile German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle was on the streets of Kiev, stirring things up with the Kremlin. If geography is destiny, a Germany unchained from that post-WWII feeling, will resume its role in international affairs. I can’t help but think that’s also part of the subtext of all the Stasi-talk regarding the Snowden allegations.

And so, here come the U-Boats of the Indo-Pacific, courtesy of Singapore.

Germans to beef up counterintelligence – resolution to Snowden spying revelations

(German spy: Marina Lee)

This action may mark the effective conclusion to the US-German dispute over spying, all declarations and agreements aside.

Basically, Germany will begin spying on the US and stepping up its defence from US spying. Or as the Reuters story puts it:

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has until now only systematically observed countries of concern, while allies in the European Union and NATO were observed only if there was a concrete suspicion, such as that they were spying on Germany or recruiting spies in the country, the official said.

But given the NSA revelations, the agency will in future need to have a 360-degree view which will include friendly countries, the official said.

The US won’t be able to complain. They wouldn’t have much right to complain. The Germans, since the end of WWII (back then-the West Germans, of course) have been under a protective bubble of the US and one of these elements of the bubble was the freedom from making huge expenditures on their own security, either through the military or elsewhere.

Now Germany will have to increasingly have to bear those cost. Possibly the bigger toll may be on the slightly innocent, slightly priggish worldview many Germans have somehow maintained since reunification. Now it looks like they’re going to have to shoulder more of the costs and responsibility. But with the freedom will come a fuller self-sufficiency they haven’t had since before WWII.

What people don’t understand about Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden can be a libertarian hero, particularly in the US, while also being completely used and abused by the Russians for their own purposes.

In fact, there’s a good chance that is what is happening. As the New York Times reports:

Andrei Soldatov, a journalist who has written extensively about the security services, said that the F.S.B., the domestic successor to the Soviet-era intelligence service, clearly controlled the circumstances of Mr. Snowden’s life now, protecting him and also circumscribing his activities, even if not directly controlling him.

And so, can we conclude that the FSB has allowed the meeting between Snowden and German Green Party lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele?

Bloomberg reports Stroebele met Edward Snowden in Moscow this week “to discuss the possibility of the US fugitive testifying in Germany as new revelations of spying by the National Security Agency strained relations between the two countries.”

Mr Stroebele travelled with two German reporters for the three-hour meeting, in which he proposed the possibility of safe passage to Berlin as well as the possibility of Snowden testifying in Moscow, broadcaster ARD reported.

“He clearly indicated that he knows very much, and that he’s prepared to travel to Germany to testify as long as the NSA and its head, Keith Alexander, block clarification,” Mr Stroebele said on ARD television. “But the circumstances must be resolved.”

The same article notes the lack of progress between Germany and the US.

Already you can see the tone turning changing between the two allies.

The situation has the potential to create wider division between Germany and the US. Imagine the diplomatic impasse of Snowden in Germany. There would be tensions between a Germany that, in a somewhat childlike way, wants answers on spying, and the US, which still has bases in Germany and provides for its protection, wanting its accused NSA-leaker back.

And who does this kind of fracas benefit? Russia. Driving a wedge between Germany and Russia would relieve some of the natural tension for a country whose human losses during (and after) WWII are almost impossible for the Western mind to grasp.

But Russia, which craves events and symbols to show that it’s not in decline, is still not the strategic threat for the US that the USSR was.

For the US the chief competition today remains China, which will become a greater strategic threat to the US as the two countries grow less dependent on each other.

That doesn’t just mean China throwing off the yoke of US consumption and debt purchasing. The US is re-gearing so not to rely on China in strategic areas, too.