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A More Perfect (European) Union

The text of Barack Obama’s sermon to the Germans in Berlin yesterday is an incredibly rich and revealing document. Prerhaps more than anything else, it was almost perfectly calibrated to tell the Germans what they want to hear. The fecklessness of the UN shows how little it means to be a “citizen of the world.” It means something, though, to be a citizen of the EU, and Obama espoused distinctly European views, pledging to move American policy in a European direction—and to make the United States more European—under a President Obama.

After giving the Obama version of Cold War history, where humanitarian aid rolled back communism, Obama devoted a sentence to discussing the terrorist threat. He moved on to the heart of his speech, stating, implicitly or explicitly:

• That the Europeans are right to consider global warming the primary threat we face: “As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya” and “This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. 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.”

• That the US will not act independently of the Europeans: “That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone.” Especially not the Iranian nuclear threat: “My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions.”

• But that the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons supersedes the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon: “This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons…It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.”

• That trade policy under an Obama administration won’t be for free trade, but for trade conditioned upon union, environmentalist demands. Trade will facilitate wealth redistribution rather than a free market: “Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet.”

• That the European Union is the model of the future and that we have transcended the era in which America should assert itself on the world stage: “…we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.”

• That we should emulate the Germans on carbon reduction (“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.”)

• Finally, Obama apologized for America’s wrongdoing, promised to stop the use of torture, and asked for Germany’s (and Europe’s) help in extending European policy across the Atlantic: “Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?” and “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.”

Josef Joffe noted in The New Republic, “If he ran in Germany, Obama would carry the country by a landslide, with 67 percent of the vote.” This comes as no surprise, as this is a speech about turning America into the European Union more than anything else.

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