Obama’s appearance at the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin to commemorate the anniversary of the 1948 Berlin Air Lift was a masterpiece of double-speak.
He used the event that marked the start of the division of Europe into East and West to tout openness, freedom, tolerance and opportunity, noting that Europeans no longer need fallout shelters (although Israelis are building them fast and calling on this audience to care about other things than personal comfort.
Noting that the world is connected as never before, Obama failed to acknowledge that he spies on its inhabitants. In a telling juxtaposition he said: “Heroes call on us to be vigilant in safeguarding own freedom”, at a time when most listeners consider whistleblowers as heroes while his government hounds them.
Citing the agony of empty stomachs he failed to connect them to the growth of agribusiness, saying we had to ‘invest in agriculture’ to teach people to farm, as if their land were not being exploited by international companies.
The key to Obama’s obfuscation lies in the word ‘opportunity’. This is what consistently sets American policy apart from that of the rest of the world. The idea of economic rights is defended south, east and west, while America recognizes only the write to compete, or struggle for economic security.
In line with this fundamental dichotomy, the main purpose of Obama’s speech, when you trim away the rhetoric, was obviously to promote an Euro-American trade pact that Europeans rightly regard with suspicion. It’s as if the colossal financial debacle that has forced European governments to go from welfare state policies to austerity never happened, and as if was not instigated – whether deliberately or not – by the global financial mafia centered in New York.
The truth is that the antagonism that brought Kennedy to Berlin in 1963 has not dissipated: the only change is that a larger part of the world favors social-democratic policies, leaving the American president that so many had put their hopes in spouting empty rhetoric.
P.S. Only 4,000 turned out to hear Obama this time, versus 200,000 when he was a candidate. I anticipate stiff resistance to the trade deal, which will emphasize… financial partnerships.