2008 (AP Photo):
2013 (REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz):
Barack Obama returned to Berlin today, almost five years to the day from when he delivered his famous “Victory Column” speech that cemented his reputation as an international rock star. Unfortunately, his reception this time was a lot different.
An estimated 200,000 people turned out in July 2008 to see then Candidate Obama deliver an address in front of one of Germany’s most notable landmarks. He took a lot of criticism from Germans for his choice of location and from his U.S. political opponents who weren’t happy about seeing an American presidential hopeful being adored by tens of thousands of foreigners. The Berlin event was larger than any of his U.S. campaign stops, though some critics even disputed the crowd figures. (Republicans in the heat of a campaign, obviously found other flaws with the speech.)
Fast forward to 2013, and many are now saying that Obama’s reputation is “tarnished,” by his recent snooping scandals, his extensions of the war on terror, and the hard luck realities of failing to deliver on all your promises. (Even ones you didn’t really make.) He’s “demystified” and “no longer a superstar” in German eyes. Now he’s just another world leader on a state visit, and whatever problems people have with U.S. policy are on his shoulders.
And instead of opening up the speech to the whole city, Obama spoke in front only about 5,000-6,000 spectators, all of them invited guests.
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Barack Obama: Well, in the end, and what I’ve said, and I continue to believe is that we don’t have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security. That’s a false choice. That doesn’t mean that there are not tradeoffs involved in any given program, in any given action that we take. So all of us make a decision that we go through a whole bunch of security at airports, which when we were growing up that wasn’t the case…. And so that’s a tradeoff we make, the same way we make a tradeoff about drunk driving. We say, “Occasionally there are going to be checkpoints. They may be intrusive.” To say there’s a tradeoff doesn’t mean somehow that we’ve abandoned freedom. I don’t think anybody says we’re no longer free because we have checkpoints at airports.
Charlie Rose: But there is a balance here.
Barack Obama: But there is a balance, so I’m going to get to your — get to your question. The way I view it, my job is both to protect the American people and to protect the American way of life which includes our privacy. And so every program that we engage in, what I’ve said is “Let’s examine and make sure that we’re making the right tradeoffs.” Now, with respect to the NSA, a government agency that has been in the intelligence gathering business for a very long time —
Charlie Rose: Bigger and better than everybody else.
The Obama administration has warned British officials that if the UK leaves Europe it will exclude itself from a US-EU trade and investment partnership potentially worth hundreds of billions of pounds a year, and that it was very unlikely that Washington would make a separate deal with Britain.
The warning comes in the wake of David Cameron’s visit to Washington, which was primarily intended as a joint promotion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Barack Obama, which the prime minister said could bring £10bn a year to the UK alone, but which was overshadowed by a cabinet rebellion back in London.
The threat by Cameron’s ministers to back a UK exit in a referendum on the EU raised doubts in Washington on whether Britain would still be part of the deal once it had been negotiated. More immediately, Obama administration officials were concerned that the uncertainty over Britain’s future would further complicate what is already a hard sell in Congress, threatening a central pledge in the president’s State of the Union address in February.
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