"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."
— Barack Obama, Berlin, July 24, 2008
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is also a proud globalist and self-proclaimed agent of change.
As the Democratic National Convention begins in Denver, many still ponder just what kind of change Obama has in mind for the country. His sponsorship of the Global Poverty Act, and more recently his Berlin speech, are prime examples.
Peppered with "one-world" phrases such as “people of the world,” “global and globalization,” and “this is our time,” Obama’s speech delivered in Berlin on July 24, 2008, described the nation he desires to lead as an “imperfect union.” The candidate thus violated an unwritten rule of not criticizing our country outside the United States.
In addition to fueling anti-Americanism in Europe, did Obama mean to placate wavering liberals in the United States by assuring them that he was a bona fide globalist — a candidate with an agenda of subjugating U.S. sovereignty to world opinion and a one-world government?
Considering the recent invasion of Georgia by Russia and the occupation of Tibet by China, the question remains as to whether these power players are willing to share their sovereignty.
In Berlin, Obama’s campaign staffers had sought permission for his speech to be delivered at the Brandenburg Gate, where Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan made history with their speeches. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, firmly opposed “electioneering” at the Gate, and Germany’s varied political parties criticized the hubris of a candidate demanding to speak where U.S. presidents had stood.
The mayor of Berlin then offered the Victory Column (Siegessaule) in Grosser Stern in the Tiergarten as a consolation prize — a short distance from the Brandenburg Gate. The Column, designed to celebrate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War of 1864, also was used to celebrate German victories in the Austro-Prussian war and the Franco-Prussian war. Moved to its present site in 1939 by the Nazi government, the Column managed to survive World War II bombings. All in all, it was a strange selection for the site of a speech by an anti-war candidate.
Although the U.S. press put the crowd at “nearly” 200,000, Germany’s public television reporters set the number at 20,000 to 30,000. Other European news reporters described those cramming the giant traffic circle around the Victory Column and lining the avenue (known locally as the “Fan Mile”) that stretches half a kilometer to the Brandenburg Gate as “thousands and thousands,” not hundreds of thousands.
To approach the podium for his 30-minute speech, Obama traversed a lengthy walkway covered in azure blue carpet. One German reporter mused that the impression for the television audience was that of the young senator “walking on water.”
Europe gave the speech mixed reviews. While most politicians found it mere rhetoric, radical left viewers found it a confirmation that the world stands as one — disregarding borders and nationalism. For Obama supporters, it was a good speech; but for nationalists, it was yet another example of Utopian dribble with no sense of reality, a mere campaign gimmick. Gerhard Spori of Der Spiegel wrote on July 24, 2008, that anyone who saw Barack Obama at Berlin’s Siegessaule found “he is more than ambitious . . . he wants to lay claim to become the president of the world.”
Klaus Bolling, a former spokesman under ex-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, stated, “The intellectual gulf between him [Obama] and John F. Kennedy could not be overlooked . . . there wasn’t a single original thought.” Bolling went on to say that Obama’s idea of a world free of nuclear weapons is a nice idea, but if he is elected, that idea becomes nothing more than rhetoric. This is especially true as Russia threatens Poland with a nuclear attack.
Among those interviewed by the German press was a German pensioner from Ghana who thought the speech excellent, as he felt it had meaning for Africa. A German woman, whose father was Muslim and whose mother was not, said she related to Obama’s mixed heritage and the problems experienced by such a person.
An Aug. 6, 2008, McClatchy Newspaper article said that Obama is losing ground among some of his strongest supporters — young people, women, Democrats, African-Americans, Hispanics, and independents. The article concluded that this loss, in the wake of the European trip, is partly because of the inexperience demonstrated by the candidate at the Victory Column in Berlin.
The first bill sponsored by a new U.S. senator speaks volumes on his or her political philosophy. The first bill sponsored by Barack Obama, the Global Poverty Act of 2007 (S.2433), would impose a global tax of 0.7 percent of gross national product (GNP) on the United States.
Estimates are that the Obama bill could cost the United States a total of $845 billion above current spending on foreign aid.
Obama sponsored the bill, which has 23 liberal co-sponsors. Led by U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., Obama’s pick for vice-president, the co-sponsors include three Republicans: Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore.
The bill incorporates the Millennium Development Goals set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, General Assembly Resolution 55/2 (2000), which were developed at the United Nations Millennium Summit.
This U.N.-based tax bill directs the president, through the secretary of state, to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the U.S. foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty.
It seeks to eliminate extreme global poverty, achieving the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day. Obama has stated that this bill “must be a priority of American foreign policy,” even though estimates are that the new global tax would increase the tax bill of every U.S. citizen (man, woman, and child) by $2,500.
A House of Representatives version of the bill (H.R.1302) passed a voice vote on Sept. 25, 2007, and Obama’s Senate version has been placed on the calendar of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Biden.
Meanwhile Obama is promising U.S. citizens that he will reduce middle class taxes but fails to mention his Global Poverty Act. What other global initiatives might he have up his sleeve?
U.S. citizens fought and died in two world wars to win back the world’s safety and freedom, but the families of those who fought and died in foreign wars do not seek to be fellow citizens of the world.
Obama globalism echoes frighteningly on the political scene. It will be interesting to see if Obama and Biden even mention world citizenship or the Global Poverty Act during the Democratic National Convention.
James H. Walsh is a former federal prosecutor and U.S. German Marshall Fund scholar.
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