President of What?


Most of the criticism of Barack Obama's Berlin speech came before the speech had even been delivered, and focused on trivia (he printed fliers in German!) and traditions that were invented last week or so (presidential candidates don't give speeches in other countries!). But the speech has been given now, and the text is more interesting than the atmospherics. Specifically:

Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?

That's not pablum. I count at least four extensions of American foreign policy here: increased foreign aid, increased funding for PEPFAR, sanctions, and maybe a little bit of ol' fashioned humanitarian intervention. (That's what he's occasionally suggested for Darfur, at least.) It's proof, if any more was needed, that Obama is not wary of foreign engagements. He's a progressive realist who thinks America hasn't done enough to police the world and to stave off future threats by doing whatever NGOs say we should be doing.

Most of our foreign policy debate has focused on Iraq, in part because that's where John McCain wants it to focus, in part because that's where our forces are at the moment. I definitely agree with Andrew Bacevich that an Obama victory discredits the Iraq project, while a McCain victory validates it. But McCain and Obama want the same thing, for Americans to be proud of their country again vis-a-vis its engagement in foreign conflicts. Put another way: I don't think an Obama victory discredits neoconservatism. He's offering neoconservatism with a human face.

Headline explained here.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty has a quiz: Obama speech lines versus "We Are the World" lyrics.

UPDATE II: Oh, I love hacks. From Obama's opening lines:

Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

From Team John "Wow, it was a good idea to dare Obama to take this trip" McCain:

While Barack Obama took a premature victory lap today in the heart of Berlin, proclaiming himself a 'citizen of the world,' John McCain continued to make his case to the American citizens who will decide this election.

He declared himself a citizen of the U.S. and the world, smart guys. Is John McCain not a citizen of the world? When his map reaches the Atlantic Ocean, does it turn white and read "Here There Be Dragons"?

It strikes me as more fighting-the-last-war from McCain. John Kerry was vulnerable to attacks of America-hatin' globalism when he did things like say American policy decisions had to pass a "global test." Obama was putting American supremacy in the kind of gooey nougat shell that Europeans like.