Werner Schultz is running for the EU parliament and told the delegates of the Green Party congress last weekend: "Today the people are more afraid of their investment adviser than of Al Qaeda." A remarkable quote that was cited in many Germany newspapers.
There are many indications that a growing number of citizens in Europe (and also in the United States) are less concerned about international terrorism than a few years ago. 9/11 is over. It is back to normal. This is not just due to the financial crisis, but also because Al Qaeda and co have not had a major attack in recent years. Complacency would be a dangerous, and Obama knows it since he said in his inauguration speech: "Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred."
Germans, however, never felt at war with this terrorism network. They don't worry much about the recent terror threats due to Germany's involvement in Afghanistan. And German politicians don't dare to describe the Bundeswehr mission in Afghanistan as war.
Obama took the oath of office yesterday to become the 44th President of the United States. The swearing-in was followed by his inaugural address, historically an opportunity for incoming presidents to be visionary and inspirational. Some of the most famous quotes in US political history are from inaugural addresses, such as JFK's "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country" (1961) and FDR's "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" (1933).
So how did Obama do? Was it a new landmark in the US rhetorical hall-of-fame? If you were looking to be inspired, this speech probably fell short. He covered all the key issues and took a "it's busines time" tone, but it did not quite carry the poetic and inspiring overtures that an inaugural address could. Or perhaps like many Americans and citizens of the world I have come to expect miracles from Obama at every turn, and have thereby set myself up for disappointment. The full text of the speech can be found here.
Obama did have powerful words for non-Americans around the globe:
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.
Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expediences sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Continue reading "Torch passed to Obama, 44th President; top 8 transatlantic relations issues for 2009"
The Washington Post has learned that Americans are feeling the love from around the world:
With Obama's Election, Expatriates Say, There's a New Attitude Abroad. Instead of Challenges on Iraq and WMDs, They're Met With Hugs and Good Wishes.
Will this "love" turn into real and significant support for US policies? Probably not, but that's okay, I guess. Just being popular again is a nice change after eight tough years, when American expats were constantly blamed for President Bush's real and alleged wrong doings.