Xinhua) — “Most of the time, foreign interference came from a friendly and allied country: the United States. For instance, I, along with (former French) President (Nicolas) Sarkozy, was under surveillance for five years by the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA),” former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon stated during a hearing on foreign interference before the French National Assembly in May.
The Pew Research Center, an American research institute, published a survey in June on the American role in global affairs, revealing that in 23 countries, including Britain, France, and Germany, an average of 82 percent of respondents believed that the United States interfered in the affairs of other countries, while an average of 50 percent thought that the United States did not consider their countries’ interests when making its international policy decisions.
Every American ally knows that they live in the shadow of an empire, asserted British political analyst Ian Martin, noting that the United States often acts in its own interests.
Countries seeking strategic autonomy, like France, have always had differences and even conflicts with the U.S. on certain issues, and as a result, they were often targeted with special attention and “got stabbed in the back.”
In the hearing, Fillon said the United States was not only monitoring the French but also other allies.
“When documents from U.S. intelligence services leaked,” he said, “everyone focused on the fact that Chancellor ( Angela) Merkel had been spied on, but the same was true for all members of the French government and, presumably, other European countries as well.”
The U.S. bugging has long been an open secret. In 2015, WikiLeaks revealed that European leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Francois Hollande had all been monitored by the United States.
Yet, American officials simply shrugged off the accusations. Former CIA director James Woolsey wrote an article in 2000 titled “Why We Spy on Our Allies”, arguing that they were right to conduct this kind of surveillance: “That’s right, my continental friends, we have spied on you because you bribe.”
Thanks to the European Parliament’s publication of a report on the interception of private and commercial communications by American intelligence agencies, many American espionage cases have been exposed. For example, the NSA listened in on fax and phone negotiations between Airbus and Saudi Arabian Airlines as well as the Saudi Arabian government in 1994, providing relevant information to an American competitor of Airbus, helping it to defeat Airbus to get the big contract.
Long-armed jurisdiction, another typical form of American interference with their allies, “has serious consequences for the economic life of our country,” said Fillon during the hearing.
He mentioned a 9-billion-dollar fine paid by the French banking group BNP Paribas in 2014 for violating the American embargo on certain countries.
“When I asked its leaders why they conducted transactions with Sudan in dollars when they could have easily done them in euros, they told me that by doing so, they would have immediately faced retaliatory measures from the United States. Since it is a global bank, it cannot afford to incur the hostility of this country,” said Fillon.
According to financial experts, BNP, a major European bank, would be perceived as a threat to the supremacy of the U.S. dollar if it conducted significant transactions in euros.
During a hearing at the French National Assembly in April, former French Minister of Economy, Productive Recovery, and Digital Technologies Arnaud Montebourg elaborated on the Alstom case he had dealt with during his tenure, a typical example of American extraterritorial jurisdiction.
In 2013, the U.S. arrested Frederic Pierucci, a senior executive of the French company Alstom, on charges of involvement in a corruption case related to Alstom in Indonesia in April 2003. Under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Pierucci was sentenced to prison, and Alstom was heavily fined before being eventually coerced into selling its related operations to its main competitor General Electric, an American multinational conglomerate.
“The United States of America were indeed not victims of any harm: it (the Astom deal) did not concern an American company or American territory since the incriminated contract was signed between Indonesia and Alstom,” said Montebourg. “It was a violation of our sovereignty, interference in the lives of our companies, illegal surveillance, against which protests were politically and diplomatically feeble, and an infringement on our national interests.”
ARMS SALES MANIPULATION
The United States also takes advantage of their allies’ military dependence to “manipulate” them. At the National Assembly, Montebourg recalled, “President (Jacques) Chirac decided in 2003 to exercise France’s veto right in the United Nations Security Council against the invasion of Iraq by a Western coalition, the United States of America, which controlled the catapults of our aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, … in retaliation, applied a unilateral embargo against France on the supply of a critical component that was of American origin.”
“It was political, legal, and economic interference in our sovereignty,” said the former French minister.
For self-interest, America does not hesitate to stab its allies in the back. In February 2019, Australia signed an agreement with France to order 12 conventionally powered submarines worth billions of euros.
In September 2021, the United States, Britain and Australia established AUKUS, with Washington and London announcing their support for establishing a nuclear submarine fleet for Australia. Subsequently, Australia suspended the submarine purchase contract with France and bought American nuclear submarines instead, arousing an outcry and strong protest from the French side.
Les Echos, a French newspaper, commented that the Joe Biden administration “places its strategic interests far above those of its allies.”
From illegal espionage to long-armed jurisdiction, from military embargoes to theft of orders, more and more U.S. allies, including France, have fallen victim to American betrayals and its long-standing hypocrisy.