The one thing you learn when you spend time around UK politics, is the never-ending talk about the alleged UK-US “special relationship”. Tony Blair sucked up to that with his uncritical support of the US invasion in Iraq and whenever the slightest doubt about European integration is voiced from US politicians, you can be sure that UK politicians take it up – and defend their “special relationship”. Obama’s great speech in Berlin yesterday should once and for all put things straight: If anyone then Germany is the US’s first partner in Europe. It is by far its biggest economy, it holds key positions both in NATO and the EU and it is at the heart of Europe. If any one country makes sense to be a broker for the US in Europe it would be Germany. But if I was US president, I would obviously let the Brits in their belief of the special bond. – Yo Brits, follow where we tell.
But besides the (right) symbolical choice for the delivery of Obama’s speech in Berlin, the speech itself was actually good. There are three things that I will keep remembering. First was his insistence on freedom. “Freiheit” is a notion that is unfortunately not a key value in German politics. There is too much talk of protection and too little insistence on the rights (and responsibility) of the individual. I hope that a future president Obama can convince the Germans (and Europeans?) of the greatness of freedom as a value. The second message which was going far beyong than what I had expected was his call to bury nuclear weapons. Obviously this was a key reference to the Iranian nuclear programme but he did not claim anywhere that the US was excluded from his goal. Thirdly, Obama was calling on all societies to value immigration. This is probably taken for granted in the US, but for (half of) the German psyche this idea is still to be swallowed. I hope that in particular Merkel’s CDU got this point – and new inspiration.