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NSA Espionage in France: 'Like Spying on Family Members' (Le Nouvel Observateur, France)


"The espionage affair will be quickly forgotten because it isn't very important. States will spy on one another, but if France and the United States have always had complicated relations, now, common interests, both economic and on counter-terrorism and security, are extremely strong. This issue is secondary. Yes - it's annoying that someone close to you is spying, but we spy even in families. You may call the French reaction timid, but I would say it is realistic."


-- Philippe Moreau Defarges, Foreign Affairs Adviser to the French Government


By Céline Lussato



Translated By Pierre Guittard


October 24, 2013


France - Le Nouvel Observateur - Original Article (French)

Philippe Moreau Defarges, a frequent foreign policy adviser to the French government, thinks the controversy over NSA surveillance in France is much ado about nothing.


FRANCE 24 NEW VIDEO: American Spying Fractures Europe, Oct. 23, 00:05:40 RealVideo

To Philippe Moreau Defarges, the French reaction to revelations of American espionage in France is simply unrealistic.


Philippe Moreau Defarges is a French political scientist, and one of the country's leading global affairs analysts. He is a frequent foreign policy adviser to the French government, a researcher at the French Institute of International Relations, and a lecturer at the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas, Sciences Po Paris, and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris.


On Monday, based on documents from former analyst Edward Snowden, Le Monde revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency has been conducting massive espionage on the communications French citizens. Philippe Moreau Defarges helps us interpret the data.


Le Nouvel Observateur: Why was there such a timid reaction from Paris after revelations of massive American espionage in France?


Philippe Moreau Defarges: One might find the French reaction to be timid, but it isn't all that surprising. This form of practical espionage is altogether common on the part of a great power like the United States. Particularly in the case of a very worried power ... which seeks to protect itself by all means possible.


The practice of eavesdropping is not very respectable, but it is so common as to provoke no particular reaction. And the second reason - this affair isn't that important ... It may be somewhat upsetting for the French, but that isn't very important at a time when Europe is in a very difficult position, and the United States is tending to move away from Europe. This is not a priority issue.


Le Nouvel Observateur: Is France benefiting, too, perhaps, from this bugging? Is there a tradition of collaboration in terms of information between Paris and Washington?


Philippe Moreau Defarges: I have absolutely no idea whether or not France benefits from this monitoring. As for collaboration in terms of information, one must distinguish between countries that are very close to the United States, such as the United Kingdom, Israel, and Germany, from those that are somewhat less close. France is not part of the first circle, and Paris has always asserted its sovereignty vis-à- vis the United States, which is invariably a little uncertain of the French and their unpredictability.


Moreover, it must be understood that France has the means to achieve the same type of surveillance - it is obvious that it does. We are inevitably moving toward societies of extreme control. With the technical means we have, how will we deter states that want to monitor everything they can surveil?


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Le Nouvel Observateur: Doesn't our reaction have to be analyzed in light of the many common positions of Paris and Washington on the international stage in recent months, in regard to Libya, Mali, Syria ... ?

Posted By Worldmeets.US


Philippe Moreau Defarges: Yes, that, too, is true. France and the United States are fundamentally in the same camp. The times of Charles de Gaulle and the great quarrels of the 1960s are behind us. France has too many of its own difficulties to distance itself from the United States. The espionage affair will be quickly forgotten because it isn't very important. States will spy on one another, but if France and the United States have always had complicated relations, now, common interests, both economic and on counter-terrorism and security, are extremely strong. This issue is secondary. Yes - it's annoying that someone close to you is spying, but we spy even in families. You may call the French reaction timid, but I would say it is realistic.


In 1981, when Mitterrand came to power, Reagan ordered the creation of a cell to monitor France over the fantasy that the communists had come to power. This eventually created a scandal in the press, but this, too, was quickly forgotten, and did not prevented Mitterrand's France and Reagan's America from having excellent relations.


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