Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 24, 2008

Obama in Berlin

So why is this U.S. guy campaigning in my home country?

The Turkish prime minister was here in February. He rented a soccer stadium in a western German industrial city. There he gave a talk to some 70,000 of the 1.8 million Turks living here. That was fine with me.

But there are less than 100,000 U.S. people in my country and some candidate, not even a formal one yet, from across the pond makes a big show at one of the premier historic places in our capital? (Funny local detail: 'Siegessäule', victory column, where Obama holds the speech is also the name of the primier gay magazine in Berlin. The mayor of Berlin, Wowereit, is openly gay.)

How is this in our, German, interest?

That candidate by the way is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on European Affairs. Since he got that job in January 2007 he held no policy hearing and never visited Europe. His real interests seem to be elsewhere.

What does he want from us?

Oh, I see, Afghanistan. He wants more of our boys and girls to protect (and get killed for) that TAPI pipeline, a major U.S. colonial project. TAPI will connect Turkmenian gas fields with consumers in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Hmm - couldn't we use that gas? I am quite sure Gazprom could deliver it at a my home for a decent price.

What could this guy possibly give us?

Maybe he can take those U.S. troops home who still take up valuable real estate here 63 years after the last war. Hey, why don't they go to Afghanistan and replace our troops there?

Update: - First impressions in the comments.

Posted by b on July 24, 2008 at 16:20 UTC | Permalink


About 70,000 US soldiers are living in Germany. they get $1OOO million a year from the German people and spend? I dont know.
Pls complete this info.

Posted by: tired | Jul 24 2008 16:50 utc | 1

About 70,000 US soldiers are living in Germany. they get $1OOO million a year from the German people and spend? I dont know.
Pls complete this info.

Posted by: tired | Jul 24 2008 16:50 utc | 2

Oh, he is the smart, savvy, cool, caring, cosmopolitan one, bringing a new dawn or a shining light on the hill ..brotherhood of man isn’t in it ..some image using light ..rays, stars, the dazzle of hope.

Seriously, I think he is showing his Wall Street backers that his promises are heartfelt and understood. International capital and Big Business has demands. In public, the discourse would have to be about: mending bridges, working with allies (covertly, getting them to stump up. Gulf War I was paid by the Int’l community, that is the developed world; not so Irak, let them stew in it they cried sotto voce.) Isolationalist powers are limited in their scope of influence, and Obama probably genuinely wants to put a stop to that. I don’t know the numbers right now but he has the vote - massively - from Americans Abroad, there are no votes in it for him, but the spirit of thing counts. Lastly, and very simply, he is doing what Bush or McCain do not, so it is easy way to look different, special, innovative, outside of policy issues.

Posted by: Tangerine | Jul 24 2008 17:01 utc | 3

European crowds will gather to cheer Obama, and the home folks will see him as the cure all for the USA's trashed reputation. American's will become inspired at the thought that people abroad don't see a prospective president as another poisonous toad, like GWB. Obama is being called Der Swarze JFK, The Black JFK. The Obama team is counting on German adulation, and adulation elsewhere in Europe, act as a triumphal procession. Perhaps Obama will do better with speaking German in Berlin; and unlike Jack Kennedy, will not describe himself as being a popular pastery.

The joke (at German expense) is that he will describe himself as a cream-filled cupcake, and the crowd will still cheer and swoon.

Posted by: Copeland | Jul 24 2008 17:30 utc | 4

Its about image. Since many Americans have a hard time imagining what a black man as president would look like, he's playing president on the international stage to show them. Seeing that most Europeans are sick to death of the current administration they will attend his rallies and cheer him like a Kennedy and embellish/perpetuate the myth that he's the new comic book super hero of change.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 24 2008 18:03 utc | 5

wings of desire, indeed.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 24 2008 18:04 utc | 6

Obama is being called Der Swarze JFK, The Black JFK/I>
And Schwarzenegger translates to ???

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jul 24 2008 18:06 utc | 7

you ask why? it is all about image. i think it is quite simple. americans primarily see europe more as one entity rather than separate countries. (the UK doesn't count because politically they operate more as an appendage of us). we consider germany the most formidable country in europe. the image of obama speaking to a large crowd in berlin has nothing to do w/impacting you as a german or german citizens in particular. it has to do w/obama not only running for the office of the president of the US, but for the domestic audience who believes the US prez is the most powerful man in the world his speech in berlin is addressing the european community as a whole in a city that represents (to americans) the most powerful city in europe.

this is for the home audience of course. you can't vote!

Posted by: annie | Jul 24 2008 18:11 utc | 8

Its about image

we must have been cross posting!

Posted by: annie | Jul 24 2008 18:13 utc | 9

Speech is over:

First mistake: announced for 7pm and started at 7:20pm. In Germany you are supposed to come punctual or come not at all.

Otherwise: Well written speech, good orator.

About 70,000 people max. A quarter of them U.S. folks.

Started with good touch on the Berlin wall and the 1948 air lift to walls in the rest of the world.

Said 9/11 terrorists trained in Hamburg, Kandahar and Karachi?
Karachi??? Pakistan, watch out! And what about the flight training they got in the U.S.?

That and other "war of terror" talk by Obama did get sparse applause.
Other talk about "U.S. bases" in Germany and around the world also.
Talk about Afghanistan - applause also very low.

Obama called for a "world without nuclear weapons" - BIG applause.
Common effort against climate change - BIG applause.

Some phrases that sound wired for Germans:

"struggle for freedom"
"remake the world"

These are empty phrases for Germans. Unlike in the U.S. there is no positive associations with these.

Posted by: b | Jul 24 2008 18:13 utc | 10

instead of making a speech in beijing Obama buys expensive ads for Olympics

Barack Obama is going for the gold......the expenditure is as significant for its reach as for the bold statement it makes

he's running for president of the world!

Posted by: annie | Jul 24 2008 18:20 utc | 11

@jony_b_cool - And Schwarzenegger translates to ???

"The man who harrows the black (earth/fields)" - a typical name construction in German language, giving profession as well as a (local) location.

Posted by: b | Jul 24 2008 18:21 utc | 12

anna missed, annie @5,6,8--It's what they say about great minds...

Posted by: Badger | Jul 24 2008 18:25 utc | 13

in a city that represents (to americans) the most powerful city in europe.

How dare you, Annie! That would be London! London, I tell you!!

b, thanks for the update. It might be interesting to have a thread discussing that sacrifice/freedom/remaking the world trinity and how it plays in different locations. Any mention of green energy? The environment? I'd guess that's what a European crowd would be interested in hearing about, not the pathetic but murderous GWOT.

Posted by: Tantalus | Jul 24 2008 18:28 utc | 14

Triumphal procession indeed! I was just saying he needs a little guy standing behind him holding the laurel wreath saying "remember thou art only a senator."

Odd the US media are not as sensitive to his (easy and seemingly habitual) self-aggrandizement as they were to Gore's, e.g.,


Obama continued:

Now, in terms of knowing my commitments, you don't have to just look at my words, you can look at my deeds. Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon.

But Obama is not a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

another comment on the same incident.

As of two days ago only one site, one of the RW crazies, even mentioned - this . No mention in the MSM or Obamanate blogs] Is it usual for a guest to tell the citizens of his host country how they may and may not express themselves at a public gathering? Was it well accepted there?

Thank you for this thread. I was going to request the view from Germany.


As a courtesy and an incentive, I will abstain from snarking about megalomania.

Posted by: rjj | Jul 24 2008 18:30 utc | 15

About 70,000 US soldiers are living in Germany. they get $1OOO million a year from the German people and spend?

Little - they have their PX, their own clubs etc. There is little going back into the German economy. The $1 billion in the direct charge (Richard Holbrooke revealed that number in 2004). There are bigger costs for this. The U.S. troops actually bring insecurity (danger of terrorist attacks) and diplomatic problems. The AFRICOM headquarter is in Germany. Does anyone believe that helps German exports to Africa?

Posted by: b | Jul 24 2008 18:30 utc | 16

As I refrained from making a wise ass remark about the possibility of his trying to get up an invasion of Pakistan.

Posted by: rjj | Jul 24 2008 18:33 utc | 17

I will abstain from snarking about megalomania.

Hmm - megalobamia ....

Posted by: b | Jul 24 2008 18:38 utc | 18

here's the video of a portion of his speech via bbc

thank you badger!

Tantalus London! London, I tell you!! you didn't like my caveat?? (the UK doesn't count because politically they operate more as an appendage of us).


Posted by: annie | Jul 24 2008 18:54 utc | 19

Senator Obama is turning out to be a real disappointment and a very dangerous man. Moving the war on terror to Pakistan could have disastrous consequences on both the political stability in the region, and in the broader balance of power. Scholars such as Richard Betts accurately point out that beyond Iran or North Korea, “Pakistan may harbor the greatest potential danger of all.” With the current instability in Pakistan, Betts points to the danger that a pro-Taliban government would pose in a nuclear Pakistan. This is no minor point to be made. While the Shi’a in Iran are highly unlikely to proliferate WMD to their Sunni enemies, the Pakistanis harbor no such enmity toward Sunni terrorist organizations. Should a pro-Taliban or other similar type of government come to power in Pakistan, Al-Qaeda’s chances of gaining access to nuclear weapons would dramatically increase overnight.

There are, of course, two sides to every argument; and this argument is no exception. On the one hand, some insist that American forces are needed in order to maintain political stability and to prevent such a government from rising to power. On the other hand, there are those who believe that a deliberate attack against Pakistan’s state sovereignty will only further enrage its radical population, and serve to radicalize its moderates. I offer the following in support of this latter argument:

Pakistan has approximately 160 million people; better than half of the population of the entire Arab world. Pakistan also has some of the deepest underlying ethnic fissures in the region, which could lead to long-term disintegration of the state if exacerbated. Even with an impressive growth in GDP (second only to China in all of Asia), it could be decades before wide-spread poverty is alleviated and a stable middle class is established in Pakistan.

Furthermore, the absence of a deeply embedded democratic system in Pakistan presents perhaps the greatest danger to stability. In this country, upon which the facade of democracy has been thrust by outside forces and the current regime came to power by coup, the army fulfills the role of “referee within the political boxing ring.” However, this referee demonstrates a “strong personal interest in the outcome of many of the fights and a strong tendency to make up the rules as he goes along.” The Pakistani army “also has a long record of either joining in the fight on one side or the other, or clubbing both boxers to the ground and taking the prize himself” (Lieven, 2006:43).

Pakistan’s army is also unusually large. Thathiah Ravi (2006:119, 121) observes that the army has “outgrown its watchdog role to become the master of this nation state.” Ravi attributes America’s less than dependable alliance with Pakistan to the nature of its army. “Occasionally, it perceives the Pakistan Army as an inescapable ally and at other times as a threat to regional peace and [a] non-proliferation regime.” According to Ravi, India and Afghanistan blame the conflict in Kashmir and the Durand line on the Pakistan Army, accusing it of “inciting, abetting and encouraging terrorism from its soil.” Ravi also blames the “flagrant violations in nuclear proliferation by Pakistan, both as an originator and as a conduit for China and North Korea” on the Pakistan Army, because of its support for terrorists.

The point to be made is that the stability of Pakistan depends upon maintaining the delicate balance of power both within the state of Pakistan, and in the broader region. Pakistan is not an island, it has alliances and enemies. Moving American troops into Pakistan will no doubt not only serve to radicalize its population and fuel the popular call for Jihad, it could also spark a proxy war with China that could have long-lasting economic repercussions. Focusing on the more immediate impact American troops would have on the Pakistani population; let’s consider a few past encounters:

On January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area. In a nuclear state like Pakistan, this was not only unfortunate, it was outright stupid.

On October 30, 2006, the Pakistani military, under pressure from the US, attacked a madrassah in the Northwest Frontier province in Pakistan. Immediately following the attack, local residents, convinced that the US military was behind the attack, burned American flags and effigies of President Bush, and shouted “Death to America!” Outraged over an attack on school children, the local residents viewed the attack as an assault against Islam.
On November 7, 2006, a suicide bomber retaliated. Further outrage ensued when President Bush extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the suicide attack, and President Musharraf did the same, adding that terrorism will be eliminated “with an iron hand.” The point to be driven home is that the attack on the madrassah was kept as quiet as possible, while the suicide bombing was publicized as a tragedy, and one more reason to maintain the war on terror.

Last year trouble escalated when the Pakistani government laid siege to the Red Mosque and more than 100 people were killed. “Even before his soldiers had overrun the Lal Masjid ... the retaliations began.” Suicide attacks originating from both Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribal militants targeted military convoys and a police recruiting center. Guerrilla attacks that demonstrated a shocking degree of organization and speed-not to mention strategic cunning revealed that they were orchestrated by none other than al-Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman Al-Zawahiri; a fact confirmed by Pakistani and Taliban officials. One such attack occurred on July 15, 2007, when a suicide bomber killed 24 Pakistani troops and injured some 30 others in the village of Daznaray (20 miles to the north of Miran Shah, in North Waziristan). Musharraf ordered thousands of troops into the region to attempt to restore order. But radical groups swore to retaliate against the government for its siege of the mosque and its cooperation with the United States.

A July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concludes that “al Qaeda is resurgent in Pakistan- and more centrally organized than it has been at any time since 9/11.” The NIE reports that al-Qaeda now enjoys sanctuary in Bajaur and North Waziristan, from which they operate “a complex command, control, training and recruitment base” with an “intact hierarchy of top leadership and operational lieutenants.”

In September 2006 Musharraf signed a peace deal with Pashtun tribal elders in North Waziristan. The deal gave pro-Taliban militants full control of security in the area. Al Qaeda provides funding, training and ideological inspiration, while Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Tribal leaders supply the manpower. These forces are so strong that last year Musharraf sent well over 100,000 trained Pakistani soldiers against them, but they were not able to prevail against them.

The question remains, what does America do when Pakistan no longer has a Musharraf to bridge the gap? While Musharraf claims that President Bush has assured him of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Senator Obama obviously has no intention of honoring such an assurance. As it is, the Pakistanis do just enough to avoid jeopardizing U.S. support. Musharraf, who is caught between Pakistan’s dependence on American aid and loyalty to the Pakistani people, denies being George Bush’s hand-puppet. Musharraf insists that he is “200 percent certain” that the United States will not unilaterally decide to attack terrorists on Pakistani soil. What happens when we begin to do just that?

Posted by: John Maszka | Jul 24 2008 19:13 utc | 20


Ho bloody ho. Absolutely true, of course.

Posted by: Tantalus | Jul 24 2008 19:23 utc | 21


I missed the caveat. Ha ha (bitterly). But absolutely true, of course.

Posted by: Tantalus | Jul 24 2008 19:25 utc | 22

@John - while i partly agree with the first sentence - Senator Obama is turning out to be a real disappointment ... the rest is old, outfated and never fitted or doesn't fit anymore.

Scaremongering without knowledge.

Deep fissures in Pakistan is a question of comparison. The real deep fissures of all Pakistani are towards two common enemies, India and the U.S. That trumps internal strive. Al Qaeda is a cost free franchise ideology without any organizational backing. I doubt they would find nukes useful and I doubt that the Pakistani mil would surrender those.

Posted by: b | Jul 24 2008 19:31 utc | 23

Full text of the speech

Posted by: b | Jul 24 2008 20:01 utc | 24

I think Berlin was the pretty obvious choice for Obama to address Europe. Germany is the biggest country in Europe, and one of the drivers of further integration of the EU (unlike UK). Germans are less adverse towards Americans (compared with French). The history of Berlin makes it a unique place for a candidate running on the message of hope, which in case of Berlin is as well strongly tied with the US, unlike lets say Verdun, which would be a place to go for Europeans to bring a message of hope.
Furthermore Obama had the chance to meet all likely chancellors of Germany in the next 5 years due to the grand coalition. Either it will be Merkel, or less likely Steinmeier, or possibly the major of Berlin Wowereit, who would be the most likely leader of a far left coalition. In France he would have met the currently rather unpopular president, while Merkel and Steinemeier are currently rather popular, mainly because they had the luck, that we had our credit crunch already 2003 and the economy recovered the last two years. In Britain the chances for Brown to remain prime minister are very dim.

To the speach itself I can say, Obama has not explicitly requested troops for Afghanistan. That would have been the only thing he could have done to really alienate the people which were coming to see him.

Posted by: Martin | Jul 24 2008 20:04 utc | 25

Well we've got last year's honorary middle-aged middle class white man visiting here today. Condaleeza Rice is dropping in for a day and bit to talk about something with the NZ govt and the leader of the opposition who is likely to win election here in November.
Of course we the people haven't been told a word about what is being discussed although interestingly enough after a day and a bit in NZ Rice is going to Samoa (pop 180,000) for talks. Somehow I doubt it is anything to do with the part of Samoa that amerika invaded and seized last century as that stuff is normally handled by a deputy assistant under-secretary for state, but maybe its Samoa's turn to sit on some international body and the numbers are tight for a vote that favours the empire.

It may just be the south pacific forum. amerika has been edged out of the South Pacific over recent years and China has more than taken up the slack. So Samoa may be seen as an ideal re-entry point for amerika into the South Pacific.

Samoa because NZ and Australia aren't particularly well regarded by the Melanesian Pacific states. NZ because of it's opposition to the military regime in Fiji and Australia for John Howard's cheap imitation of George Bush, throwing his weight around in melanesian states particularly the Solomons, PNG and Vanuatu.

Of course the whiteys down here will think letting amerika back in is a good idea but the rest of us who want to develop our own pacific culture and society hate the notion.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 24 2008 20:47 utc | 26

Europeans have a message for the U.S., and so does Obama--and he has a knack for joining voices.

Posted by: alabama | Jul 24 2008 23:03 utc | 27

The NZ Herald tells us that the Condy visit isn't entirely without opposition.

A $5000 reward is being offered to any Auckland University student who can make a successful citizen's arrest of United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to the country this weekend.

Auckland University Student Association (AUSA) president David Do said the arrest would be for her role in "overseeing the illegal invasion and continued occupation" of Iraq.

"It is hard enough living as a student in Auckland these days without having a war criminal coming to town, so we thought we'd give our students a chance to make a dent in their student loans and work for global justice at the same time."

Apparently the amerikan secret service hasn't picked up Mr Do for inciting an act of terra-ism, but one would have to think that he will be made to regret his outspokeness.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 25 2008 0:12 utc | 28

given the popularity of making jfk references of obama, along w/ b's pointing out the fact of b.o. being

the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on European Affairs. Since he got that job in January 2007 he held no policy hearing and never visited Europe.

it seems appropriate to add the following account, by way of piero gleijeses' conflicting missions: havana, washington, and africa, 1959-1976

The lack of interest in Africa in the U.S. Congress was legendary. When it came time to appoint the chairs of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittees, Africa was the booby prize. The first chair, John Kennedy, accepted the job in May 1959 on the condition that he would not have to hold any hearings. (During his chairmanship, the subcommittee met only once, briefly.)

[and from the associated footnote]

Richard Mahoney writes that when the subcommittee was created in May 1959, Kennedy, who had spoken out forcefully in favor of Algerian independence, "was the natural choice to head it" (Mahoney, JFK, p. 28). But the account of a senior committee staffer rings more true: "Nobody wanted to be chairman. So Fulbright told Carl Marcy [the committee's chief of staff], 'Tell Jack Kennedy that he's got to do it. He's junior on the committee [he was just beginning his second term as senator] and he never comes to the meetings anyway, so he's got to do it.' Marcy relayed the request more diplomatically. Kennedy asked, 'How often does it have to meet?' And Marcy replied, 'As often as you want.' So Kennedy asked, 'Suppose I never want it to meet?' And Marcy replied, 'Then it never meets.' Kennedy say, 'OK, I'll do it.'" (Interview with Pat Holt; see also Pat Holt, OH, pp. 52-53.) On the subcommittee meeting only once under Kennedy, see Mahoney, JFK, p.28.

Posted by: b real | Jul 25 2008 0:29 utc | 29

debs 28, !!!

Posted by: annie | Jul 25 2008 0:53 utc | 30

Because of what the republicans have delivered the world, Obama looks infinitely a better. Appearing intelligent, reasonable and speaking well, help. He is trying too hard to be the candidate for everyone, and that's the concern.

Although he's qualified it before as to reasons, his clear reference to Reagan in this speech induces a gag reflex. While his speech is addressed to the American voter as well as other audiences including the ones gathered (which must be 99% German), it really bothers me that he is not misguided in invoking Reagan, because there is an existing large support base (only in America) that worships Reagan's non-existent legacy of success and unaware of Reagan's existing legacy of disaster. Since Obama's the vehicle to repair the country, the hope is that the popular support he gets is just has a bit more of a clue as to how to steer the vehicle. Otherwise like Reagan his advisors and political allies will drive the vehicle into a ditch.

Posted by: YY | Jul 25 2008 1:54 utc | 31

Interesting analysis of the Obama campaign from a political insider via Joe Bageant. link

It is all interesting, but here is a summation:

The underlying social change that led to the Obama victory is the unprecedented extent to which the narrative of popular consumer culture, and the media that drives it, has become the dominant influence on how Americans think, formulate their ideas and understand the world around them.

The most important result of this process has been the steady and consistent depoliticization of American society, to an extent that we can make the case that we are living at the dawn of the post political age.


In the post political world and the candidates who can best thrive in it have tremendous appeal to the economic elites, a system that does not dwell on issues and will never ask the question, "who has power and why", but simultaneously creates a social and media environment of stupefying distractions while destroying traditional social mores (under-credited as a source of much social solidarity). This can only benefit their continued rule of that society.

In such a setting our political choices like our consumer choices, regardless of the product, are primarily about what makes us more fulfilled and feel better about ourselves.

Senator Obama's campaign understood much better the impact of these changes on our electoral system than any of his opponents' campaigns...


Given all this as the background, what are we to make of the campaign of the candidate of hope, audacity and change? The answer lies in understanding Senator Obama's appeal to the brighter sections of the economic and political elite, and more importantly in the lack of any organized opposition against him, of the kind that within a matter of days destroyed Howard Dean's campaign in 2004.

At the precise moment that the intellectual underpinnings of conservative free market ideas that have dominated politics for the past 30 years are crumbling across the globe. Obama calls for a post ideological and partisan world.

At the time when the American military industrial complex is despised around the world, he is a front man out of central casting which will buy it more goodwill and new room to maneuver in the first 15 minutes after being sworn in that John McCain could in the next 100 years.

His very presence, the color of his skin, the very strangeness of his name is the best guarantee of his betrayal of the expectations of the constituencies that will vote to elect him. Barack Obama is in short order a far more reassuring prospect for the continued dominance of the financial elite than another four years of neo-conservative rule which in an almost historically unique combination of greed, ill will, incompetence and stupidity have brought the country to the edge of disaster.

Audacity yes, change hardly.

His trip is about image in the US, sure, but it is also about outreach to restive elites outside the US to assure them that the recent, um, unpleasantness, will soon be a thing of the past. The "left wing" candidate will try to preserve the empire.

Posted by: lg | Jul 25 2008 1:56 utc | 32

Obama's foreign tour to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Israel, Germany so far has been an out of the ballpark home run! Way beyond what David Axelrod would have expected.

Here's why:

First, who was the targeted audience for the images and words. The white blue collar middle class suburbanites in cities across the mid-west, south-east, south-west and the mountain states. Hillary country that was open to Obama but did not pull the lever for him during the primary as they could not yet cross the rubicon to vote for a black man. The final piece of the electoral jigsaw Obama needs to win in November. He can count on an overwhelming black vote with historic turnout. So to will Democrats in the big cities as well the youth in cities and college campuses. The turnout among these segments will be of historic proportions. He will get a larger percentage of the Hispanic voters than Kerry as the Latinos are pissed with Republicans and their immigrant bashing. He knows he will not be able to get any of the rural and blue collar white voters in small towns and older white voters. They will never vote black.

The big city suburban white blue collar voter is someone that has generally bought into the Republican meme that Democrats and Obama in particular is weak on terror, will appease the "enemy", does not respect the military and is inexperienced in foreign policy.

Look at the images from this trip that shatters that meme and bolsters his candidacy. An image of him and Gen. Petraeus in a helicopter - Obama listening intently - looking cool with dark sunglasses. Obama with soldiers mobbing him looking very comfortable around them and they with him. Images of Obama with the leaders in the Middle East fawning over him - Karzai, Maliki, King Abdullah, the Emir of Kuwait. Images of him and Merkel in Germany. And yes the images of him addressing a throng of people in Berlin. What did it convey - he looks good as head of state - these world leaders respect him and most importantly he looked like a young, take charge commander-in-chief with the generals and soldiers. The confidence. The strength. They are visualizing a black President.

The second thing he needed to accomplish was to show the MSM that he would be the charismatic leader that they want - a rock star. Photogenic. Articulate. Regal. Comfortable in head of state settings. They want mega photo-ops. Major ratings productions. Hollywood. Camelot. Look how they were lapping it up. Katie Kouric. Charlie Gibson. Chris Mathews.

His messaging was also very specifically focused on his target audience. Tough on terrorists. Will not hesitate to use force. He won a major coup with Maliki endorsing his Iraq plan. He took the play from Hillary's playbook by being a hawk on going after terrorists. The one Achilles Heel for the Republicans as the war party.

These were campaign moments for a specific target audience. He accomplished what he needed to do.

This has nothing to do in my opinion about what he believes in or what his policies will be when he gets elected. We don't really have a clue. This was all political campaign imagery! At this juncture all we can infer is that he can run a good campaign and can make lemonade from lemons - his skin color. A black man winning the Presidency of the USA is no small feat.

Posted by: ab initio | Jul 25 2008 3:05 utc | 33

lg 32, Recently I received this brilliant analysis from a high powered political consultant whose name is withheld for obvious reasons.

one of the advantages of remaining anonymous is you don't have to answer to your critics. while i agree w/some of the premises in the report i found some of the claims odd.

One of the most telling facts about the Obama's constituency outside of African Americans (whose support needs no explanation) is that it is a coalition of people who need or demand the least amount of social benefit from our government. They are the under politicized younger voters and upper middle class whites. The two groups, coincidently, are the ones most influenced by trends in consumer popular culture and have the greatest of ease using the latest technologies. In the post political world, when the same principle is applied to the political realm, it makes complete sense how Barack Obama no longer is a black man with a strange name but the iPod to Hillary Clinton's cell phone. In the world of toys it is the one that stands out the most is the most marketable.

first of all i am wary when people frame statistics as 'fact' w/out providing any supporting documentation. did he say that once you subtract black people (whose support needs no explanation and we are supposed to ignore how racist this is) obama's constituency is a 'coalition' of people who don't need social benefits? as opposed to who? white trash in trailers? you mean poor white folks vote for hillary or mcCain? or are they talking about the middle class who don't need social benefits? this after being informed in the 2nd paragraph: there is no demographic or political reason that a male first term African American senator from Illinois with an unorthodox name should come any where close to beating a white female senator who happens to be the wife of the last Democratic President whose approval ratings are still above 70% with Democratic voters and who also happened to earn the endorsements of the substantial parts of the Democratic Party establishment.???

so which is it? if we subtract the coalition of "upper middle class whites" who are the democracts that support obama who's left in the dem establishment to support his allegations why there was no reason he should have won over hillary. am i nuts or does he weave in and out of theory so much it gets confusing? i'm going to skip the loaded phrase "under politicized younger voters" for the moment.

The underlying social change that led to the Obama victory is the unprecedented extent to which the narrative of popular consumer culture, and the media that drives it, has become the dominant influence on how Americans think, formulate their ideas and understand the world around them.

but you could say that about anything, couldn't you? exchange the words 'that led to the Obama victory' and replace it with 'that led to the iraq war'. pick 5 things that are happening in the world today that ARE NOT as a result of "the unprecedented extent to which the narrative of popular consumer culture, and the media that drives it, has become the dominant influence on how Americans think, formulate their ideas and understand the world around them".

in other words, what does this tell us about obama as opposed to hillary or mcCain or anyone? nothing!

The reality of the post political period is best highlighted in the failed themes and ideas of Barack Obama's two primary opponents. The Clinton campaign was based on pushing two concurrent ideas: the inevitability factor of her candidacy and the other was her supposed experience..... How valuable of an asset can experience be in a culture where knowledge, wisdom and history are frowned upon?

this is starting to sound more and more like a sore hillary sobfest.

Senator Obama's appeal to the brighter sections of the economic and political elite, and more importantly in the lack of any organized opposition against him, of the kind that within a matter of days destroyed Howard Dean's campaign in 2004.

huh? i'd say hillary's team gave it the ol college try. but this is my favorite

His very presence, the color of his skin, the very strangeness of his name is the best guarantee of his betrayal of the expectations of the constituencies that will vote to elect him.

the best thing about this post is Bageant didn't write it. its just a run of the mill political hit job imho. no wonder it is anonymous.

Posted by: annie | Jul 25 2008 3:40 utc | 34

. He knows he will not be able to get any of the rural and blue collar white voters in small towns and older white voters. They will never vote black.

that is not true. that is a gross misrepresentation. many blue collar white voters and and older white voters in cities and rural areas all over the country have NEVER voted for any party other than democrats. they aren't all racist.

The big city suburban white blue collar voter is someone that has generally bought into the Republican meme that Democrats and Obama in particular is weak on terror, will appease the "enemy", does not respect the military and is inexperienced in foreign policy.

this is what rove keeps telling us anyway. but i don't buy it.

can make lemonade from lemons - his skin color.

black isn't a lemon, it is an asset. it has been an asset for longer than obama's been around.

Posted by: annie | Jul 25 2008 3:51 utc | 35

the lack of any organized opposition against him, of the kind that within a matter of days destroyed Howard Dean's campaign in 2004.

The very same organized opposition that during the Clinton administration put together the Impeachment Show, in 2000 defeated Gore in the general and knocked McCain out of the primary, in 2004 swiftboated Kerry.

It just folded its tents and stole away. Retired from the fray. Vanished into thin air. Collectively forswore the jollies of the ratfuck. Where did it go? Where did it go?

Posted by: rjj | Jul 25 2008 4:39 utc | 36

The guys over at Diebold must be feeling a bit conflicted lately. Because if Obama wins, it lets them off the hook and they can say "See, our machines do'nt lie". But if he loses, every candidate from here to Kathmandu will want Diebold on their side and thats a lot of Diebolds.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jul 25 2008 5:11 utc | 37

Obama's presumed success with the trips, should be reflected in the next round of polls. By any other metric, or non-black candidate, old glue horse McCain would be by now, leading himself off to the glue factory in rage of self admitted humiliation and defeat. But so far, Obama has not been able to turn any of McCain's many gaffs and liabilities into a significant margin in votes. I mean, whoever is running against McCain should by now be mopping the floor with his sorry ass. McCain makes Bob Dole look like Fabio, and as we know, he was KO'd by the Arky Smoosher back in 96. So if Obama doesn't get a big, big bounce out of this one, its unmitigated and intrangient racism that he's up against, plain and simple.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 25 2008 5:15 utc | 38

Obama's presumed success with the trips, should be reflected in the next round of polls. By any other metric, or non-black candidate, old glue horse McCain would be by now, leading himself off to the glue factory in rage of self admitted humiliation and defeat. But so far, Obama has not been able to turn any of McCain's many gaffs and liabilities into a significant margin in votes. I mean, whoever is running against McCain should by now be mopping the floor with his sorry ass. McCain makes Bob Dole look like Fabio, and as we know, he was KO'd by the Arky Smoosher back in 96. So if Obama doesn't get a big, big bounce out of this one, its unmitigated and intrangient racism that he's up against, plain and simple.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 25 2008 5:16 utc | 39

In 36 bobble-head, rock-star, pop-psychology posts about Obama here on MoA,
not one about the condition of the US economy that Obama will inherit, and
what that means in their Metro-Dem alderman union graft extortion cosmology.
America is about living in the fairy tale, even here on MoA, all faith-based.

The Smash and Grab will continue, ala Shuck and Jive'n Cookie Jar Banditos.
But by gar, we sure gave 'em heck with our sycophantic pedantic one-liners,
like a crowd of idle gawkers on the sidewalk at the scene of a bank robbery.
Then the cops are gone, media folded, and you realize they kyped your wallet.

Juno Hilo Charlie!

Posted by: Juno Charlie | Jul 25 2008 5:26 utc | 40


The economy that Obama will inherit is doo-doo and the cosmology of the American fairy tale is for the doomed.

Does that answer your question?

I'm personally about as amused as I can be after reading Obama's speech. You should check it out.

Nixon Nixon I keep cutting back to you face as if
it's all we've got to go on Mon General once said
in a Kennedy he saw the smiling mask of America but
in Colonel Cornpone Johnson he saw the raw face
of America itself

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tyrannus Nix

Obama's beguiling brilliant oratory is simply the perkiest bubble bath of optimism you're ever likely to behold. Most people have to pay good money for theatre like this.

It's much more entertaining than watching spittle being ejected from the mouth of the cranky John McCain. You gotta laugh. Imagine having to look at that mug for four years.

Posted by: Copeland | Jul 25 2008 6:41 utc | 41

The over-analytical pessimism expressed here doesn't change the facts. Obama will be president. I'm betting he'll be a good one.

Kucinich for A.G.

Posted by: waldo | Jul 25 2008 7:02 utc | 42

Kucinich will not be AG. Not in a million years.

Dead flesh will be re-animated and the whole fucking Bill Clinton administration will resume their Cabinet posts.

All in all it could be worse.

Posted by: Copeland | Jul 25 2008 7:13 utc | 43

"The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims and Jews cannot stand.". I hope he meant the zionist walls in palestine!

Posted by: Sceptic | Jul 25 2008 8:25 utc | 44

Bhasin: John McCain and Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy Choices: Different Bottles, Same Wine

In his speeches Obama has discreetly support the idea of a Concert of Democracies by calling for need to strengthen institutions and invigorate alliances and partnerships for meeting the global threats. He seeks to build an America that fights immediate evil, promotes an ultimate good and leads the world. Does this sound any different from the promises made by President Bush and reasserted by Senator McCain?

The global implications of this analysis are obvious: No matter who becomes the next President, the U.S. will continue its policies of political, economic and strategic intervention in countries that appear threatening, while courting greater support from its allies. With either a Democratic or Republican President at the helm of affairs, the U.S. may be expected to continue a policy of ‘aggressive internationalism’.

Posted by: b | Jul 25 2008 9:03 utc | 45

I never cease to be amazed at the "there is no difference between them" stuff. Between stated positions, that may be true, that is how general elections tend to go. But once they are in office... one question: would Gore have invaded Iraq?

evidence that policy statements are worthless:
Wilson in 1916 ran on keeping us out of the war. I have no clue about prez politics 1920-1928.
1932 FDR ran a campaign even less specific than Obama's, so that the ptb would not take a giant shit on him, then revealed a plan that led to a coup plot. 1936 dunno.
1940 - keep us out of the war. 1944 ,48 dunno.
1952 - holy shit Ike said he'd end the war and did.
1960 - ???.
1964 - LBJ takes a firm stand for the 30 yr old New Deal and against WW3 and delivers. wow.
1968 - Nixon says he will end the war. Apparently the plan was to act like a maniac, though he did not tell us that:
1972 - Nixon still gonna end the war. SOmehow people still believe him. Maybe because posturing by the would-be vanguard of the revolution was very very easily used to drive the population rightward. BTW If Code Pink doesn't get money from the RNC they are just working for free.
1976 - Carter. promised to not be a republican, which almost lasted until the end of the term.
1980 - Reagan - fiscal responsibility and relentless optimism... Optimism delivered. 1984 - dunno.
1988 - Bush promises more of the same but is actually sane enough to start rolling back voodoo economics. Kinder, gentler what? Appoints Souter, stabbing social conservative base in the back.
1992 - Universal health care, nope, despite full Dem control
1996 - Clinton delivers on his promise of not being really old.
2000 - compassionate conservatism, no nation building, more lies are well documented
2004 - wtf was that, anyway?

The point is not that I am an expert on pres. politics, as I am clearly not, it is that policy statements are worthless. At this point if you don't know what the Democrat and Republican brands are,...

Would Gore have invaded Iraq?

Posted by: boxcar mike | Jul 25 2008 12:33 utc | 46

So if Obama doesn't get a big, big bounce out of this one, its unmitigated and intrangient racism that he's up against, plain and simple.

Racism? I believe much of it is a preference for a particular style which people assume (incorrectly) will be expressed in governing/management style:


Warren Buffett versus Jack Welch-Leona Helmsley
collegial versus autocratic


MIT/Cal Tech meritocracy versus Harvard/Yale exclusivity and privilege
rural/small town versus urban

Non-city slickers and people in the older age group are more comfortable with the first mentioned, hence the preference for McCain, Clinton, even George of Crawford, "the rancher."

Urbanity traditionally does not sell well, though that may change with demographics. JFK needed help from his fathers Chicago business associates.

this is half-baked, but no time and running on empty.

Posted by: rjj | Jul 25 2008 14:10 utc | 47

geez- just read the speech & saw this line - "The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow."

fuck obama

Posted by: b real | Jul 25 2008 15:06 utc | 48

@ boxcar mike's "Would Gore have invaded Iraq?"

You remember who ran for VP with Gore, right?

I strongly suspect that Gore would've been shuffled off in some way. Probably impeached by the Republican Congress after September 11th. Iraq invasion to proceed on schedule.

Posted by: Cloud | Jul 25 2008 16:04 utc | 49

Whatever else may be going on, I hold the following to be the case (recent experience having told me so): Obama is quicker and smarter, more elastic and more inventive, colder and more decisive than anyone trying to track his movements. His surprises are not so surprising any more.

People still get irritated when I point out that Bill Clinton was (and still may be) the most gifted politician alive. Really a mutant of sorts, and truly impossible to anticipate. Obama is starting to strike me the same way.

The gifted don't have to be beautiful and don't have to be loved. All they need is the opportunity to do their thing, and when they do it, we find it slightly improbable, somewhat absurd, and highly suspect. Harder to admit is the simple fact that such folk function on a level--and at a tempo--other than our own.

Nature is wasteful, life is unfair, no one has enough money or enough mother-love, and there's always, always, always a quicker gun in the west.

Posted by: alabama | Jul 25 2008 16:59 utc | 50

@cloud 49 : it is hard to argue with counterfactuals, but of course I started the counterfactuals. I don't think that a 2/3 majority of senators would have gone for conviction over 9/11, if 9/11 even would have happened.

Posted by: boxcar mike | Jul 25 2008 17:46 utc | 51

anna missed So if Obama doesn't get a big, big bounce out of this one, its unmitigated and intrangient racism that he's up against, plain and simple.

for us to know what kind of bounce he got one would have to rely on the polls. elections aren't stolen in one day, they are stolen months in advance 'softening the target' (that would be us) to the inevitability.

waldo Obama will be president

i don't know that. from the bottom of my bones i don't think we live in a democracy. i have no idea who will be the next president. what i do know is what we hear from here on out is all carefully crafted and reflects moves in a chess game more than what is inside a mans head or heart. who will be president is not something we will decide.

Obama is quicker and smarter, more elastic and more inventive, colder and more decisive than anyone trying to track his movements. His surprises are not so surprising any more.

something tells me that remains to be seen. that he will surprise me is not surprising. how he will surprise me is. call me an idiot but i would be surprised to find us entering into a pre emptive nuclear war. i would also be very surprised if an obama actually engaged in meaningful resolution of the palestine/israel conflict. what would not be surprising is a general continuation of what we have become accustomed to, the slow strangulation of our world. i think he may have a thing or two up his sleeves.

rjj, 36 It just folded its tents and stole away. Retired from the fray. Vanished into thin air. Collectively forswore the jollies of the ratfuck. Where did it go? Where did it go?

it's not over til the fatlady sings. it has by no means retired. so far the theme of this years swiftboating is muslim bashing, fear of islam, surrendering monkey, etc etc. can't you hear it?

Posted by: annie | Jul 25 2008 18:41 utc | 52

John Kennedy, Barack Obama and the ‘Triple Evils That Are Interrelated’

Look for Obama to be crowned the new King of Camelot by the last living Kennedy brother on the centrist 50-yard line in Denver next month - a sight to be anticipated with trembling souls by hopeful and dreamy masses at home and abroad. The cunning, corporate and imperial Kennedy legacy is actually what Obama is all about, morally and ideologically speaking, something that would cause trepidation in a western political culture that hadn't been subjected to the relentless Orwellian erasure of the richly bipartisan crimes of American Empire and Inequality.

Posted by: b real | Jul 25 2008 18:57 utc | 53

@40, not so, but there are many threads/posts.

(bold) Mc Cain will win (/b) Dodgy prediction, that, with Diebold and all the rest.

Gore lost, Kerry lost (Dukakis and Mondale if I remember right...) Now charismatic figures can take the day, and the PTB may prefer the face of heroic change and some stellar flag waving, abundant fresh tearful potentially sacrificial allegiance to Amerikka - and also, shortsightedly, for Obama to preside over economic meltdowns, imperial failures, sinking pay, health care, etc... in the usual Dem-Rep contest, calculated to 2012, etc.

Polls show Obama the winner right now with plus 4.8% but the polls are skewed and it is not over until the fat lady sings. - That no. from a summary by real clear politics:>link

What difference will it really make, in the long run? Both will support Israel, both will maintain the war on terror, both will support bail outs of financial institutions, both will offer some frills here and there - tax rebates, or tax reductions, or higher tax, some new health insurance thing which doesn’t serve the people, or none because the system is good as is - and so on - none of these measures will make any real difference, just some shunting about in the accounts and flowers in public discourse.

The proposals, which are just teasers, such as Obama’s civil service (Kerry pushed the same thing far further and then recanted or stayed silent) are just balloons sent out to gather that or that % of the vote, they have no reality. These ppl think only in terms of marketing segments - so many poor whites who want others to be sent to Iraq, hate chicken hawks; so many who have a relative with cancer soon to die, an x amount are single issue voters (gay marriage, abortion, guns, etc.) etc...They are like, and have the expertise of, people who sell soda pop and new drinks, such a smoothies, or Caribeean delights, or whatever. Moreover, they themselves know they are playing a role.

@ boxcar mike. Gore might have resisted invading Iraq, and that is why he wasn’t elected (amongst other things.) Clinton destroyed Iraq, with the sanctions, but managed to avoid an all out military take over, while bombing and killing off ...x % of the population. Some became impatient with this slow, murderous strategy, as it wasn’t too visible, wasn’t pro-active, didn’t resonate with the ppl, and didn’t afford much profit - those who traded with Iraq were sore, or went underground (food for oil, thorny legislation), but mostly the military contractors didn’t get much joy. Slow genocide under the radar is effective but not profitable, it is cheap. Shock and awe and TV spectactulars and a country to control with jackboots and not just disease - way bettah.

Posted by: Tangerine | Jul 25 2008 19:22 utc | 54

the smartness of Obama's campaign has paid of big-time. And I'm guessing his teams overall smartness advantage in this race is worth maybe ten points & that should be enough.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jul 25 2008 23:52 utc | 55

"fuck obama"

Today on fox, Charles Krauthammer praised Obama for finally "getting it " on GWOT.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 26 2008 1:55 utc | 56

slothrop - yea, well, i lost my composure reading that line, given that a current hypothesis of mine that continues to be confirmed almost weekly now is that the u.s. is intentionally fomenting extremism in somalia to justify their militarization of the HOA & the gwot in general. somalia is on the verge of serious famine now & with obama bringing susan rice & anthony lake back into official capacity, even more will probably die. obama, having kenyan relations, should know better. his support for the bush admin's somalia policy was only one sign, to me, that there will be little change in u.s. policy to continue screwing over somali's.

(also, some commodities you may be interested in... and not entirely off-topic since cave featured in wenders' film)

Posted by: b real | Jul 26 2008 3:51 utc | 57

"Well you see, awhile back we were walking down the Yellow Brick Road..."

Posted by: Copeland | Jul 26 2008 3:57 utc | 58

On the lighter side, Maureen Dowd, of the NYT's Op-Ed toilet-paper section, was reported to be considering going to Berlin for Obama's appearance.

I can see Mo now at the Neue Wache: "(Yawns) Yeah; whatever; Jesus, I needa getta drink. And what's up with the fucking hole in the ceiling?"

Posted by: Jemand von Niemand | Jul 26 2008 4:28 utc | 59

Tangerine's post details the favourite foreign policy ploy of the two party state. Even if Gore didn't use 911 as an excuse to invade Iraq , if one examines the way that the clinton administration kept the screws on Iraq whilst repeating the Iraq has weapons of mass destruction lie ad nauseum, it is plain that even if the dems worry their supporters may not approve of unjustified increases in the empire's territory, they are quite prepared hold the line until their mates in the other mob are able to do it for them.

An objective examination of the dem behaviour since WW2 - Korea (dem prez), attempted invasion of Cuba (dem prez), Vietnam escalation (dem prez), dominica (dem prez), Kosovo (dem prez) and the ones I can't remember shows that the dems political organisation is geared towards the empire's expansion.

If someone could be bothered to check the history of amerika's territorial growth since independence I imagine you would find the same duopoly of deceit. One party aggressively expanding the territory while the other alleges to be a party of peace, only it never gives anything back the aggressors stole (initially from native americans, later from Mexico, later still anywhere in the world that amerika thought it wanted) and when something goes down which means that amerika must strike while the iron is hot to get the land and the less aggressive party is in power, that party does a policy reversal alienating it's base but nevertheless participating in the grab. I imagine that was the mechanism by which 100 plus treaties with the indigenous people were broken.

The political system is fatally flawed. I can't help but marvel at the self deception that leads peeps to think that the outrageous excesses of the bushco era are somehow diferrent. That this hasn't happened before.

Most people know about the way that the indigenous people were tortured starved and dispossessed, do they think that is different but the constitution was upheld for everyone else since until bushco?

Cause the japanese interned in WW2 wouldn't agree neither would the Rosenbergs who were denied myriad constitutional protections when they were railroaded to execution. That's just a couple examples somehow the constitutional safeguards fall by the wayside whenever they are most needed. Not particularly an amerikan problem, this happens wherever there is an over concentration of power.

A big part of the problem is the system. The idea of having one person as the executive, all-powerful commander in chief, and head of state, rolled into one person overwhelms the ideals invested in the allegedly democratic way used to select this king type figure.

Amerikan society has been forced to accept a situation where people fight to get that position of absolute power and corrupt themselves and those around them with this process, to the point where virtually everyone in the political classes believes anything goes.

All the checks and balances are meaningless if one person, the prez, has the power to overrule those checks and balances. Legality is a side issue if the prez is powerful enough to get away with breaking the law. Right through amerika's history the prez has over ruled constitutional mechanisms and will continue to do so regardless of which portion of the political establishment the prez comes from.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 26 2008 7:02 utc | 60

come on now, Debs, we all know the US empire is infallible. you insinuate we have no memory about...

sidenote: i think perhaps i've had too many sips and the sarcasm might not play well. fuck Obama? no, fuck the broken system that needs him to wave his oratorical wand as the pillars crumble. and fuck the barnacles that cling to the Titanic as it sinks.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 26 2008 7:30 utc | 61

I was in Berlin this weekend and talked to people who attended the Obama event. There was also some insightful 'Sunday Journalist Club' talk round about the event on the main TV channel today.

The show, and it was such, was meticulously set up Obama troops. It was a 'private event' and the rules put out were that no political poster or banner could be shown by the people taking part. "Peace Now" posters etc. were confiscated.

About a third of the total crowd (my friends estimated 70,000) were not Germans. Security was relatively lax on the road leading to the circular place where TV screens had been set up. The inner circle around the stage that could be caught on TV had different rules though. Security was tighter but people who carried U.S. passports were allowed in more swiftly and with less frills.

That caused more than half of the crowd there having been U.S. people with a lot of British tourists etc. adding to them.

That might explain the waving of U.S. flags and Obama posters. It is dubious that Germans (who have an aversion towards flags outside of international soccer events) did this.

There was also a noticeable difference in acclamation to applause lines. The "world without nukes" and "end of Guantanamo" stuff got huge applause. The "shared burden in Afghanistan" and "Iran" stuff got much less applause. As the microphones only covered the surrounding of the stage, it is likely that only few of the Germans their clapped their hands to these (80% are against the German Afghanistan engagement.)

Simple lesson: What was shown on TV and 'analyzed' as general German enthusiasm was likely not such. "Anything but Bush", yes, "anything the U.S. wants", no.

The future relations will be more complicated than today's.

Posted by: b | Jul 27 2008 16:57 utc | 62

"The future relations will be more complicated than today's."

Probably not. German and US interests wrt Afghanistan and Iran mostly coincide. You're on our football team. Lifetime contract.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2008 17:41 utc | 63

German and US interests wrt Afghanistan and Iran mostly coincide.

Certainly not. Especially the German business folks are very much against the Iran sanctions. They do not get the compensation in DOD contracts the U.S. companies get. On Afghanistan? What the hell has Germany to do with Afghanistan. We like the nat-gas from Turkmenistan. There is no interest in TAPI besides avoiding threats from the U.S.

Posted by: b | Jul 27 2008 17:58 utc | 64

Well, NATO out of afghanistan, I say.

But, why does your political class support deployment? Is it just the matter of German ego, that at long last Germany can flap its wings a little bit, and kick some terrorist ass? I don't know. I'd like to know.I'd imagine German soldiers will be headed south to fight.

As for Iran. Well, let's write some checks and distribute to the German business folk, pronto. Siemens will do anything for a profit. But, why does your political class support sanctions? Is it just the matter of German ego, that at long last Germany can stiff-arm some persians, just like the old days, and scam a better cut in the deal? I don't know. I'd like to know.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2008 18:31 utc | 65

why does the US political class support covert regime changes and preemptive, imperial attacks on sovereign nations? is it just the matter of imperial ego?

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 27 2008 19:04 utc | 66

nato out, point

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 27 2008 20:11 utc | 67

Germany enjoys its role as the middle child in the global family. She makes deals with everybody. She's real sweet. But sooner or later she's got to sit on Daddy's lap.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2008 21:05 utc | 68


sometimes european countries are asked to do things for the US that are not in their best interests. It's like Don Corleone asking for a favor. If you do it, you stay on his good side and he may throw you a bone later. If you don't, you can be sure that corporate media and all the other rabble rousers will start nipping at your ass.

do you really think that european governments do not get strong armed from time to time?

it is not only Siemens that is doing business in Iran, my Italian neighbor works in a very small factory that makes video projectors. He told me that they can no longer sell to Iran because of US sanctions.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 27 2008 21:19 utc | 69

"Muscled." sure, dan. Come to think of it, that's pretty much Chomsky's wrap-up on the international relations ordered by the US, a mafia family in a neighborhood of obsequious shopkeepers.

It's too facile, though. The explanation which is supported by the greatest evidence, is that the global capitalist class wants an oligarchy of Persian businessmen to open Iran to "market liberalization."

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2008 21:37 utc | 70

sloth: by trying to rhetorically emasculate another nation with paternalistic belittling you exemplify the national arrogance that continues to isolate the US.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 27 2008 21:39 utc | 71

That's why Germany is a charter member of the Iran 6.

Any better explanation?

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2008 21:39 utc | 72

Like I've said a thousand times, lizard, the left can't seem to get it through it's impenetrable US-hate, the capitalist class is way ahead of this "nation" shit. The German political class acts less and less in the interests of a collection of national capitals and more and more in the interests of a global capitalist class.

Didn't you hear? We're one big world, says Obama. And the germans feinted from the efforts of cheering.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2008 21:50 utc | 73

And the germans feinted

interesting misspelling....

as for the the Chomsky wrapup, my guess is you don't get out much. people with guns and brawn get their way. right now, in our world, the biggest baddest on the block is the US. For others it is someone else. I had some guys from Macedonia do some work for me and they told me that they would one day get back the rest of their country from Greece. It was pure numbers for now and they were outnumbered by more than two to one but they solemnly assured me that they would get it back.

in your effort to defend the US way of life you tend to ignore the obvious. To paraphrase Madeline Albright, what good is power if you don't use it?

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 27 2008 23:14 utc | 74

German foreign direct investment in the US defense industry is bigger than all German trade with Iran (around 4% german gdp)!

No, Dan, the "germans" defend the "american" way of life. In a billions of ways.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2008 23:43 utc | 75

.4% with Iran. Around $4 billion per yr.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 27 2008 23:44 utc | 76

OK, nobody knows the economic influence of USA bases and troops in Germany. !100,000 soldiers¡

Posted by: tired | Jul 29 2008 8:15 utc | 77

paul street: Obama Does Berlin

"No one," Obama intoned in Berlin, "welcomes war."

Wouldn't that be nice? Sadly, it's not true: Boeing and Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and Blackwater Worldwide and many other military (so-called "defense") contractors welcome U.S colonial "war." Obama's longstanding campaign finance patron Henry Crown Investments is a leading war profiteer. The oil majors have done very nicely with recent "wars" (the one-sided imperial assaults on Iraq and Afghanistan) and are looking to cash in nicely with Iraqi oil profits gained through "war." There are a large number of evangelical Christian U.S. fascists who crave "war" in the Middle East. There was a whole cabal of strategically placed elites within the George W. Bush administration who welcomed 9/11 as an opportunity to wage a long-sought war of petro-colonial conquest on Iraq and there are still plenty of powerful U.S. neoconservatives (many have collected around the John McCain candidacy) who like "war" a great deal.

Obama appears to have great affection for the U.S. war on Afghanistan, an action that he has repeatedly praised. He also retrospectively welcomes the first U.S. war on Iraq (1991), an especially noxious exercise in one-sided imperial butchery for which Obama has repeatedly stated his admiration.


"We have made our share of mistakes," Obama told Berlin, "and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions."

Here Obama was referring to the Vietnam and Iraq (2003 - ?) "wars" (one-sided imperial assaults). He was talking the imperial language of the official "doves" that Noam Chomsky has decoded for us in regard to both illegal "wars." Obama claims to believe that both were "mistakes," not CRIMES. These terrible "blunders" were the over-zealous outcomes of our GOOD INTENTIONS and not the outcome of our commitment to criminal EMPIRE.

Wrong on both counts! And some "mistakes" indeed: 3 million Indochinese obliterated and Vietnam turned into a "basket case" and 1.3 million Iraqis killed and counting. How many Afghani civilians have needlessly died in Obama's "good" and "proper" war on their country? Estimates run well into the tens of thousands.

By the way, in a recent interview, Obama was asked "if there's anything that's happened in the last seven and a half years that the U.S. has to apologize for, in terms of foreign policy." Obama immediately said "No, I don't really believe in the U.S. apologizing..." He added that "we've made some I've said, I believe the war in Iraq was a mistake...but hindsight is 20-20...The US has overwhelmingly been a force for good in the world" (source).


"People of Berlin - people of the world - this," imperial Obama said, "is our moment. This is our time...let us...remake the world once again."

Nice, but when Obama was writing for the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Foreign Affairs last year, he argued that "the American moment is not over" but "must be seized anew," adding that "we must lead the world by deed and by example" and "must not rule out using military force" in pursuit of "our vital interests." "A strong military," Obama wrote, "is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace." We must "revitalize our military" to foster "peace," Obama claimed, echoing Orwell, by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 to the Marines.

Obama's Foreign Affairs article gave reasons to expect future unilateral and "preemptive" wars and occupations carried out in the name of the "war on terror" by an Obama White House. "We must retain the capacity to swiftly defeat any conventional threat to our country and our vital interests," Obama pronounced. "But we must also become better prepared to put boots on the ground in order to take on foes that fight asymmetrical and highly adaptive campaigns on a global scale." Reassuring the more militarist segments of the U.S. power elite that he would not be hamstrung by international law and civilized norms when the control of strategic global energy resources is at stake, Obama added that "I will not hesitate to use force unilaterally, if necessary, to protect the American people or our vital interests wherever we are attacked or imminently threatened."

"We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense," Obama added, "in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability".

Posted by: b real | Jul 30 2008 15:15 utc | 78

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