Friday, April 03, 2009

Obama sets goal of world without nuclear weapons.

It's the speech which we never dared to hope that he would make. But make it he has and he has chosen Strasbourg as the place to set out his most ambitious plan to date.

Obama has said that he intends to set out to create, "a world without nuclear weapons." The crowd went wild.

He admitted that in recent years, "we have allowed our alliance to drift", which I took as a clear rebuke of George Bush's "with us or against us" diplomacy, which went down like a bag of cold sick over here.

He admitted that:

"There have been times when America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive; but, in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is, at once casual, but can also be insidious.

Instead of recognising the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad. On both sides of the Atlantic these attitudes have become all to common.

They are not wise, they do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.

So I've come to Europe this week to renew our partnership; one in which America listens and learns from our friends and allies, but where our friends and allies bear their share of the burden. Together we must forge common solutions to our common problems. So let me say this as clearly as I can. America is changing, but it cannot be America alone that changes."
Europe has waited for the past eight years to hear an American president chide us and yet tell us that he values our opinion.

I used to say that Europe loved Clinton because he pretended to listen. Obama appears to be promising even more. But he is also demanding that we carry our share of the weight because, "our fates are tied together".

He couldn't have said more to make Europeans positively giddy.

He wants to listen and he wants help. He has reversed the arrogance of the Bush administration, as far as Europeans are concerned, in one fell swoop.

Listen to the applause he gets when he talks of closing Guantanamo, or promising that the US will no longer torture.

Europe loves when America leads by example. Obama, after the nightmare of the Bush/Cheney administration, is promising to, once again, take up that mantle.

And the applause of Europeans is ringing in his ears. We have never been anti-American, Mister Obama, but we have often been anti-Republican. No-one likes to be pushed around, no-one likes another country to demand that you are either, "with us or against us."

Obama offers partnership. He promises to listen. And that's all we ever wanted.

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