Addressing tens of thousands of elated Europeans massed in Berlin at twilight, presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama promised Thursday that he would work to unite Christians, Muslims and Jews in a safer, more united world.
His 27-minute speech at the gold-topped Victory Column was interrupted by applause at least 30 times, with occasional audience chants of “O-ba-MA!”
Billed as a speech about Transatlantic relations, it turned out to be a manifesto for the planet, with an appeal to “the burdens of global citizenship.”
Reaching out to skeptics back home, he heralded “the dream of freedom” and declared firmly: “I love America.”
“People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time,” he declared, offering himself “not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen, a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.”
Obama’s speech, the centerpiece of his presidential-style sweep of the Middle East and Europe, set a global agenda as expansive and audacious as any contemplated by a candidate for United States president.
“In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help us make it right, has become all too common,” he said. “Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe.
“No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together,” Obama continued. “A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more, not less.”
Invoking the fall of the Berlin Wall after the historic call by President Ronald Reagan at the nearby Brandenburg Gate, Obama declared that the greatest danger now “is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.”
“The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand,” he said. 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. These now are the walls we must tear down.”
In perhaps the most striking passage, Obama asserted: “I know my country has not perfected itself.”
“But I also know how much I love America,” he said. “We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye towards the future, with resolve in our heart, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.”
Obama’s sweeping vision also includes:
— "This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons."
— "This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East."
— "America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
— “My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions.”
— “The world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.”