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October 22, 2014
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A loss of trust

It’s baffling how the trust America built up with its allies over the past 237 years could be dismantled in just a few weeks. Last Thursday, the Chinese ratings agency, Dagong, downgraded its U.S. sovereign credit rating from A to A-, despite the narrowly drawn resolution to avoid a default on the nation’s debt. This week, President Obama received two angry phone calls in which he was forced to hastily assure two European allies, Germany and France, that their leaders and citizens were not the target of current N.S.A. surveillance.

Allegations that the U.S. tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone and intercepted the calls and text messages of millions in France is the latest echo of former N.S.A. contractor Edward Snowden’s mass leak of classified documents. Washington pledged to the two nations that they were not the target of current surveillance and wouldn’t be in the future, though no mention was made of the past. Merkel said these revelations shattered trust in the Obama administration and undermined the vital trans-Atlantic relationship.

The U.S. is facing an uphill battle in order to gain back this trust it lost recently both at home and abroad. Our enemies give us enough headaches — we don’t need to make trouble with our allies.