Today in Berlin Barack Obama put a 21st Century vision to the theme of walls that must be torn down, “The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean. The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.”
Obama talked about how America and Europe must work together on issues like securing nuclear material and global warming, “In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth.”
He said the biggest danger facing us is to allow new walls to divide us, “That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. 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.”
The Illinois Democrat closed by talking about the themes of his campaign, hope and the future, “People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. Let us build on our common history, and seize our common destiny, and once again engage in that noble struggle to bring justice and peace to our world.”
This was a home run for Obama. He looked presidential, and was very much in control of the issues that he was discussing. Most importantly, he laid out an alternative vision for America’s partnership with Europe. It is clear that an Obama presidency will mean the end of the go it alone stance of the Bush administration. The speech deserves special credit for taking Reagan’s famous speech, and putting a futuristic and progressive spin on it. This wasn’t Obama’s best speech, but it got the job done, and demonstrated that he is ready for the world stage.