Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yes, he can have a dream

But a dream it will likely remain. German newspapers have been discussing back and forth during the last days whether Barack Obama while on visit in Germany should be allowed to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate at July 24th in Berlin (SPEECH AT BRANDENBURG GATE? -German Politicians Are in an Obama Tizzy). The Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit says yes, the chancellor Angela Merkel says no. Today the topic made it into the NYT which titles

Prospect of Obama at Brandenburg Gate Divides German Politicians

You didn't ask for my opinion, but in this case I'm with Merkel though she's in the wrong party (can you imagine I'd vote for a party that has a C for Christian in its name?). Obama isn't an elected representative of any nation, at least not yet. It is pretty clear he wants to speak in front of a historically loaden location like the Brandenburg Gate to help the campaign in his own country, and I think Germany should try to stay out of other countries election campaign.


Aside: I do presently neither receive nor can I send any emails. The problem seems to have occurred about 12 hours ago and before somebody gets up on the east coast it probably won't be resolved. So please don't expect me to reply to any emails I didn't get. In case it's really urgent recall an invention named 'the phone'.

Update 4pm: Email works again.

28 comments:

Giotis said...

Hello,

I wouldn't agree even if he was president. This is not the 60's or the 80's. Every US president that comes to Germany addresses the German people like an emperor to his subjects. This is embarrassing for Germany and it happens only there (as far as i know) for some reason that i don't understand. I definitely agree with Merkel.

Regards

Bee said...

Oh well, I could have imagined some setting in which Merkel, the president of the USA and maybe some other VIPs appear together, give speeches about the state of global politics or their future vision or so. The Brandenburg Gate could be a good location for this.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

It’s one of those Catch 22 situations for to let him speak has it appear that Germany endorses him and to not let him speak has one snub someone who has a better then even chance of becoming the next president. I believe the error rests with Obama and he should be taken to task for it by the world press for putting another nation in such a needlessly awkward position. If this is considered as his first act of diplomacy uopn the world stage I give him a failing grade.

Best,
Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Just as an additional comment I feel one way for Germany to have this all become benign or perhaps even advantageous is to invite (rather insist) John McCain to speak there at the same time. First it would maintain their impartially and second raise the importance of Europe’s place on the world stage as it would then have it more appear that the two of them come with hat in hand rather then conquering heroes. As I’ve always understood, the only way to rid ones self of a Catch 22 is to counter with one.

Best,

Phil

Giotis said...

Hi Phil,

"to invite (rather insist) John McCain to speak there at the same time"

Europe is not America's playground. We are not a province of the Roman Empire.

Regards

Uncle Al said...

Think of Obama in the spirit of US Secretary of State Condoleeeeeza Rice - but not yet owned by greater powers. Let him speak. Invite McCain to counterpoint. Female translator voice-over for McCain wraps the package.

The gods do not fear battle, they fear ridicule.

William said...

Not too diplomatic to create such a stir, I agree with Phil. It would be a good lesson for Obama to be snubbed for that snafu.

AIPAC's candidate for president, McCain, shouldn't be given the stage there either.

Merkel is an idiot, but I agree with her on this point.

Where next? ... an Obama speech from the top of the Eiffel Tower? ... then to an Obama lecture from the Pope's Vatican Balcony? ... then backsliding to an impassioned Obama prayer meeting from the Queen's Chapel at Buckingham Palace?

McCain should give a speech from the top of Israel's great barrier wall, where he could address the Palestinians and Israelis simultaneously by speaking out from both sides of his mouth at the same time. As a GOP elite member, he has that skill well mastered.

Bee said...

Hi Phil, Hi William,

I agree with you. It wasn't a good move of Obama to request to speak at the Brandenburg Gate. I do not think Germany should invite McCain too to solve the dilemma, but Obama could have tried to appear together with McCain, that might have worked out. Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

"Obama isn't an elected representative of any nation"

Obama is a US Senator, an elected office. However, he is a junior senator holding little power within that body.

Obama is visiting other countries as well. Since he not part of the US executive branch, he will be welcomed only by low level officials from the foreign office. There will be press conference, perhaps speaking at some club. But that's it. No other country allow him to speak at a place equivalent to the Brandenburg Gate.

X said...

Dear William,

“McCain should give a speech from the top of Israel's great barrier wall, where he could address the Palestinians and Israelis simultaneously by speaking out from both sides of his mouth at the same time.”

With your permission let me improve your information base (knowledge):
1)At rural areas the Israel's great barrier wall is 3-4m tall and ~4-5 mm thick. One should balance himself as in circus to maintain the equilibrium. The suggestion also stupid since nobody at range hundreds meters will listen; it is like talking in the desert;
2)At urban areas the barrier is nearly doesn’t exist and even where it is present one may climb on it only from the Palestinians side: no chance to get permission from Israel security authorities since the probability to get bullet from the Palestinians side is equal to 1 FAPP.

Dany.

Bee said...

Here is an update to Obamagate:

Obama Reacts to Debate in Berlin

Merkel lets Obama's planners know she finds his request a bit "odd" and apparently he is now trying to find a different location. The above linked article is insofar interesting as that it mentions Obama might have thought it to be a compliment choosing the location. Maybe. I think this is a case of transatlantic misunderstanding in political decency. It should have been clear to Obama that despite his apparent popularity in Germany, the whole presidential campaigning fuzz and the emphasis on single persons in the USA is considered very "odd" from a German perspective. I myself would go so far to say this extrem campaigning, and advertising with lack of content, is democratically seen completely inappropriate.

Andreas said...

Well, he could move 50m to the left and speak in front of the new US Embassy building in Berlin...

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,


“Many in Berlin are calling on the government to extend an invitation to McCain as well. But it would be little more than a symbolic gesture because the Republican presidential candidate has little time for a visit to Germany.”
- As taken from SPIEGEL ONLINE International.

Thanks for the update and the article, it also appears things are heating up and perhaps Obama should give a little more thought to his brilliant plan in regards to photo ops and grandstanding. In a way though I find this whole debate somewhat healthy for it will bring into sharper focus all these world security issues and how Europe for the most part is diametrically opposed to those of the U.S. Obama might even learn something important before he takes the reigns if he be so fortunate, like walk softly and get rid of the stick.

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Update: Obama reconsidered and now plans on giving a speech at the Siegessäule (Victory Column). Foto here.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I don’t know who Obama's advisors on such matters are, yet I for one would give them the old heave-ho. With the selection of the new site they have taken him from the fat and thrown him into the fire. Next thing we will hear is that he wants to address the Bundestag.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Now that I’ve had more time to think about it perhaps there is a more appropriate place for Obama to speak that blends German culture with Americana. That would be Neuschwanstein Castle which inspired Walt Disney's construction of Cinderella Castle for Disneyland. After all it does go with “he can have a dream”. Perhaps Tinkerbell could make a quest appearance:-)

Best,

Phil

Arun said...

Bad, bad Obama for having his event fliers printed in German. Any aspirant to the American Presidency has to be strictly English only.

http://www.thenextright.com/patrick-ruffini/obama-campaign-prints-german-language-flyers-for-berlin-rally

Giotis said...

200.000 Germans waving American flags and cheering for a US presidential candidate?!
I wonder whether the French, the British or any other mature European nation would ever behave like this. (except maybe some eastern European countries, emerged from the collapse of the Soviet union which see the Americans as their saviors). Could someone imagine 200.000 French cheering for Obama in Paris waving American flags or 200.000 British in London?

This is not about Obama; every American presidential figure would have a similar reception in Germany more or less, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton even Bush. It doesn't matter. Why is that and why only in Germany? There is only one explanation I can think of: Generation after generation after WWII the Germans have been brought up I think with a feeling of an in duty bound to America for protecting them and for helping them survive as a nation (and even re-unified) after the war. 60 years later, this feeling is still strong i guess. Does anyone have a different explanation for this weird behavior?

Regards

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

I don't think this has much to do with postwar thinking. It is more I think that many, maybe too many, Germans are yearning for a some American spirit in a fairly romantic sense. I'd recommend to all of them to go live in the USA for a year or so, they would find out very fast that America is neither a land of the free nor a home of the brave. Instead, it's a land of high mobility and a land of people who think it brave to believe in dreams that defy all reality. I think it is for the commonly rather reserved German unusual and also inspiring to have leaders with a lot of charisma offering a vision. In a certain sense I guess it is a fascination with the difference - the grass is always greener on the other side. Best,

B.

Giotis said...

Hi Bee,

Quote from a recent Obama's interview:

People in Berlin according to Obama showed "how hungry the Europeans are for American leadership".

Amazing! Do you believe that he said that? I was sure that this will give the wrong impression and i was trying to make that point.

So are you hungry for American leadership too?:-)

Regards

Bee said...

I can't believe that either. Maybe it's meant to say Europeans want to see somebody who actually leads America instead of just doing what crosses his mind and imposing his idea of justice on the rest of the world. As far as I am concerned, America doesn't need leaders it needs thinkers.

Bee said...

Oh, and American leadership is about the last thing Europe needs. I been trying to tell people from 2000 on the USA will be heading into a major crisis within the coming decade, and I think we're presently seeing the begin of this crisis. Hopefully, it stays on their side of the ocean. More hopefully, the rest of the world will learn from it. I am constantly afraid Germans will continue to copy all kinds of nonsense just because its American.

Giotis said...

I will try to find the exact phrase on the Web since i watched him saying that on TV.

Giotis said...

Check that link in the Washington Post

Bee said...

I see. Well, it is hard to say what exactly Obama meant with that. I sincerely hope he didn't get the impression Europe wants America to continue imposing their world view on others. They should get a grip on their own business though. Possibly that's what he means to say? Best,

B.

Giotis said...

I don't want to misjudge the man, so here is the rest of his phrase in LA times. But for me the rest is just pretty words.

Giotis said...

Hi Bee,

You are right. If you read the whole phrase from the LA times, the meaning is quite different. It is the opposite actually. So i think i was wrong about the senator.

But did you notice that the Washington Post took the phrase: "was a testimony for how hungry Europeans are for American leadership." completely out of context and even added a period after the word leadership? That was misleading.

On the contrary here is the entire quotation from LA times:

"hungry . . . for American leadership that's not a matter of unilateral action, but a matter of engaging countries and peoples all around the world around our common challenges but also our common opportunities."

Quite different meaning.


Regards