Friday, July 25, 2008

In Berlin with Obama

Yesterday Al and I went down to the Victory Column in Berlin to hear Barack Obama speak to Berliners - and Europe - about the future of U.S.-Europe relations, whether or not he is elected president - although it sure would be a disappointment for all those people who came out to see him if he ends up losing.
I was not all that impressed by the speech. He didn't say much, choosing instead to paint a dramatic, if by now tired, picture of Euro-American relations as a partnership in the pursuit of greater freedom around the world, using the Berlin airlifts and the fall of communism as examples of the power of the trans-Atlantic partnership.
He did a fine job of working the crowed, one moment revving them up with pledges of support for tackling issue dear to most Germans such as nuclear disarmament and global warming, and the next calming them with less popular proposals such as expanding NATO commitments in Afghanistan with the help of German troops. I got the feeling that many who were there wanted to be moved by Obama, and tried very hard to get into it, but that there was very little that they could really latch on to and say 'this is the reason I support him over McCain; this is the issue that differentiates him.' On any close study of where Mr. Obama stands on many key principles, it is obvious how far apart Europe and the U.S. actually are. From the ethics of capital punishment to the reality of the American empire, there are very few issues that Americans and Europeans truly see eye to eye on. Mr. Obama's visit surly did not make this divide explicitly known to all the millions hearing him live and on television, but his presidency will.

Here Al and I are (inside the red circle) at the Obama rally. Obviously one of millions. This photo comes from the New York Times website here.

1 comment:

nina said...

haha! i was watching the speech online and i thought i recognised you two! i seems i was right :)
greets from a turmoiled belgrade