Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama in Berlin

Yesterday, 25th July 2008, the streets of Berlin were lined with people wanting to hear Presidential candidate Obama speak.

He spoke of freedom, and of the need for American and German people to unite.

He spoke of duty and of victory over tyranny. He spoke of a common destiny and of our common humanity. He made reference to a new hope, and to the fall of the Berlin wall.

Senator Obama’s central message seemed to be that we need to unite in the fight against terrorism – get behind the armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was saying that wee are all together in this fight. He repeatedly addressed the “People of Berlin, people of the world”. I am sure he is eager to demonstrate his grasp of foreign policy.

However, his statement that the purpose of the NATO mission in Afghanistan was to “help them rebuild their nation” was, at best, disingenuous. It sounded very much like Bush and Blair’s justification for the invasion of Iraq. It made me wonder whether Obama's foreign policy will be "business as usual" if he is elected President.

In Britain, the U.S. is largely characterised as an invading and dominating force. The speech may have been meant to allay that perception, but if so, I am not clear about how far it went in achieving that aim.

I was heartened to hear the Senator speak of the need to tear down walls between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

I was also encouraged by his statement of the need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and reduce the arsenals, and to bring the Iraqi war to a close. This was a dove message in what was largely a hawkish speech.

Although the candidate made repeated reference to the Berlin airlift, he only mentioned briefly and in passing the two world wars we fought against Germany. Living in London, I see nearly daily reminders of the Second World War and the devastation it caused. Work on construction sites still regularly unearths unexploded Nazi bombs that were rained down on the people of London and other British cities. Senator Obama’s speech contained only the briefest mention of that conflict.

The Senator used many of the right words, but I am not sure he conveyed a good grasp of the international situation. And although his speech was very idealistic, I did not personally find it particularly convincing.

To watch the video, go here:

As the author/publisher of Black Success Stories, I am well aware of the importance of positive Black role models. If he is elected President, what impact will this have on your life – your home, your family, your health, your job, your business? Join my Obama phone-in on 19th August. Click here to register Click here for more details. Your opinion matters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Zhana,

I am from Shreveport, LA USA. You asked what impact upon my life do I believe the election of Barack Obama as president would have.

Of course, I would be happy to see a black family move into the White House. Symbolically, this would be a boost to the psyche of all oppressed peoples of the world. This in itself could change the way people feel about themselves and what is possible. In that respect, Obama's election as president could have an impact on my life; however, as president, I don't think that Obama would impact my life much more than any other Democratic president unless he turns out to be a conservative Republican in disguise. Then, the impact would be negative.

As president, Obama would have to follow the same laws as all other presidents. He has made it quite clear that he will not be representing black people. He is a politician who merely happens to be black. This is how the hundreds of black legislators and mayors and even the few state governors were elected. Believe me, their election made no difference to the black community until of course, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans had to briefly come out of the bag immediately after Hurricane Katrina.

No African-American politician can afford to be black in a minority situation and expect to stay in office. As a matter of fact, no black politician anywhere can afford to be black in a high profile position or if he has something the Western world wants.

A black politician has to put first the values, mores, and laws of the Western world ahead of his own people if he expects to stay in office or stay alive. Period (Full stop).

I would love a better way of looking at the world. If you have one to offer, please let me know about it.