‘A Citizen of the World’ Campaigns in Berlin
July 25, 2008 - 5:11 AM“This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet,” Democrat Barack Obama told a crowd in Berlin on Thursday.
Obama was advocating efforts to alter the course of the planet’s weather, but his overall speech—entitled “A World that Stands as One” as transcribed on his official campaign website—was a sweeping call for global oneness.
Obama’s Republican opponent Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), criticized Obama for campaigning in Berlin, while the Republican National Committee criticized him for using the speech as a fund-raising vehicle.
Obama’s Berlin speech invoked “the burdens of global citizenship” and urged a “global commitment to progress.” As such, it was more reminiscent of Woodrow Wilson’s globalist rhetoric at the time of U.S. entry into World War I than Ronald Reagan’s defiant challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall at end of the Cold War.
The Democrat from Illinois also repeated his recent calls for a greater commitment to the war in Afghanistan, while referencing his long-standing vow to withdraw the U.S. from Iraq.
“The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation,” he said. “We have too much at stake to turn back now. “
A few moments later, he said of Iraq: “[T]his is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.”
At another moment in his speech to the German crowd, Obama lamented unspecified U.S. foreign policy actions.
“We’ve made our share of mistakes,” he said, “and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.”
But the main thrust of the speech was a sweeping call for global unity and global action.
“This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet,” he said. “Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations–including my own–will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.”
Elsewhere in the speech, he said: “While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.”
And: “Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more–not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.”
In the end, the walls Obama called for tearing down are those he perceives to be dividing nations, peoples, and religions.
“That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another,” he said. “The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.”
“Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.
The McCain campaign on Thursday suggested that Obama should be more concerned about American voters than Europeans:
"While Barack Obama took a premature victory lap today in the heart of Berlin, proclaiming himself a 'citizen of the world,' John McCain continued to make his case to the American citizens who will decide this election,” said McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds.
“Barack Obama offered eloquent praise for this country, but the contrast is clear. John McCain has dedicated his life to serving, improving and protecting America. Barack Obama spent an afternoon talking about it."
The Republican National Committee said Obama used his Berlin speech to raise campaign cash, even though his campaign billed the speech as nonpolitical.
The RNC points to a report from ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper, who said just a few hours after Obama gave the speech in Berlin, his campaign send out an email reading:
“As you may have heard, Barack has been in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia this week." The email included a big red "DONATE" sign.
“This is certainly going to be used as ammunition for those critics who wondered about the true purpose of this ‘non-political’ trip,” the RNC said.