Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama and Berlin

Surely, it was a great day for speech writers. How Berliners themselves reacted to it remains to be seen. In case you haven't heard, the gist of it was that the Global War on Terror (see 'Bullshit' for a thorough explanation) represented a challenge as great as the Cold War and as great as the challenge that Berliners faced both with their divided city and with the Berlin airlift. Walls and the idea of walls and the falling were mentioned, although they weren't physical walls so much as rhetorical constructs that sounded nice, but which kept Europe and the U.S. from collaborating on the glorious war on terror, along with third world client states.

My intuition with this is that although Berliners turned out en masse for the speech, it probably left a bad taste in their mouths. The Berlin airlift was initiated because the Soviets working through East Germany were attempting to starve out west Berlin in order to get it to capitulate and to join the East. The Wall was a symbol of a Germany that was divided by powers after the war where depending on what federal state you happened to have your house on you either became a citizen of a Communist country or a capitalist one, with families literally divided by the border between East and West.

West Berlin was an island within East Germany, surrounded on all sides by it, with vacations to the rest of Germany provided by the government and with just one secure route connected it to the rest of West Germany.

That Obama is using all of this to promote war with Iran and renewed war in Afghanistan, as well as using it to continue the police state mentality that's been in place in the U.S. since 2001, is probably not what the people in Berlin either wanted or expected.

My understanding is that the residents of Berlin are some of the most savvy and educated people in Europe. Surely, this would contribute to a different response than Obama gets from regular Americans, even those who think of themselves as being elite in world knowledge.

But that's another story. Suffice it to say that the faux sophistication of some Americans, which looks like cheap imitation fur compared to the actual education of Europeans, is tedious and cloying.

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