Just how great is this picture? The American Secretary of State meets the most powerful leader in Europe, and not a man in sight.
This amazing encounter takes place against the background of yet another spasm of European mock horror over the alleged activities of the CIA. Fortunately the two women seem to be keeping their heads while the pundits and extremists froth away.
Der Spiegel has a roundup of the hullabaloo as well as a country by country breakdown of the allegations. I was shocked..., shocked, to find for instance that some people think that at some time in the past, US flights containing CIA operatives might possibly have passed through Danish airspace.
Here's the overview:
Europeans have CIA on the brain. For weeks, the European media have been full of stories about so-called "extraordinary renditions" -- the secret CIA program in which the US government allegedly detains terror suspects in one country before transferring them to third countries for interrogation. Of specific concern are suspicions that, having arrived in those third countries -- both Uzbekistan and Egypt have been mentioned as likely destinations -- prisoners are then tortured and held without recourse to lawyers or basic human rights.Read the whole article here.
Even worse, from a European point of view, is that the CIA has apparently repeatedly used air bases and airports across the continent for refuelling stops or transfer points. In addition, the accusations that the CIA maintains secret detention facilities in both Poland and Romania, which were originally levelled by the Washington Post at the beginning of November, have not been forgotten. While both Poland and Romania have vociferously denied the charges, the US has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such "black sites."
All of which means that the US, once again, is losing the European popularity contest. And Rice, who plans to visit Berlin, Bucharest, Kiev and Brussels during her trip, will play lightning rod for a week.
The WSJ comments:
It has been quite the spectacle this week, with Condoleezza Rice touring Europe amid mock dismay over the fact that the CIA may have detained terrorists in European jails. If the Secretary of State weren't so diplomatic, she'd cancel her tour and say she won't come back until the Continent's politicians decide to grow up.Read the article here.
The article also makes the pertinent point that whatever installations existed and how they were used could hardly be considered "secret" since they operated with the full cooperation of European governments.
In a sense it is comforting that whatever the pundits proclaim, hard-eyed realists in governments throughout the world are willing to do what is necessary to combat Islamist radicalism (and no, I don't want to know the specifics -- just do what you have to do!).
And, judging from a recent poll. The public in the US, in Britain, and through much of the rest of the world agrees with me. [here]
Der Spiegel also notes that prisoners may have been moved out of European facilities and into others in North Africa, which means that Islamic regimes are also complicit in these activities.