ISSN 2330-717X

President Obama Visits Germany – OpEd


Finally, President Barack Hussein Obama paid an official visit to Germany. This time he could deliver his speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Before a handpicked audience of some 4 000 cheerleaders he held a mediocre speech focusing on history. He brushed a hodgepodge of all sorts of topics. The only topic the international media found worth reporting was his offer to reduce the nuclear arsenal of both superpowers: Russia and the United States. But this has been a running gag of his presidency and would not lead anywhere. Russia’s President Putin has already slowed Obama down.


At least, the official Germans were glad that the U. S. President came. Governing Major of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, talked about the glorious past of German-American relations and committed themselves to a common future. It goes without saying that without the unconditional support of the United States after 1945, West Germany would not have survived as a free and independent society. Neither Germany had reached its unity, without the massive support of George Bush the elder against the resistance of Francois Mitterrand and Margaret Thatcher.

In 2008, Obama was not even a candidate for the U. S. presidency; he visited Germany and wanted to deliver a speech before the Brandenburg Gate but Chancellor Merkel objected. Instead he addressed a crowd of over 200 000 Germans at the Victory Column. Then Obama thrilled the Germans. Merkel’s negative attitude towards Obama tarnished over years the German-American relationship. But today, as everybody could see and hear they are kissing and hugging each other und call each other by their first names. It’s all symbolic politics. The interests of the two countries are not identical, which could be seen at the G8 summit a day before.

Cleverly, President Obama sold the Germans his colossal spy program on the internet, his drone warfare program and the prison camp in Guantanamo in the name of security. He acknowledged that there were concerns over privacy but these spy programs were aimed at “threats to security, not the communications of ordinary persons”. These surveillance programs would keep people in Europe and the U. S. safe. In Germany, Obama turned out once again his reflective liberal image by referring to Immanuel Kant in order to camouflage that he is just a smarter revenant of the little Bush.

In the run-up to the Obama visit, there were demonstrations, but with only a thousand participants. They carried posters with slogans against Guantanamo, the drone war, the indictment of Bradley Manning, the persecution of Edward Snowden, the spy program, and the war against Syria. One poster showed Martin Luther King’s slogan “I have a Dream” together with Obama “I have a Drone”.

If there were in the U. S. a truly free press, not heroes like Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden would be attacked, but Bush and Obama and their subordinates in the intelligence complex. Both presidents have started a colossal drone program that increasingly emerges as huge “terror program”, like Noam Chomsky called it. Whereas Bush has used the drone program cautiously, President Obama inflated it. More civilians were killed than alleged terrorists. However, the greatest political sin was committed by eradicating the Magna Charta.


Obama’s stopover in Berlin was a visit with a lot of flatteries. Of his speech nothing sticks. Political comedians suggested slogans such as “I’m a Trojan” or “I’m not a Berliner”, so that one remembers Obama.

Ludwig Watzal

Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog “Between the lines”. He can be reached at

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