Obama: Go to Mecca, not Berlin

The travel itineraries of the candidates for President have been interesting to analyze. A couple of weeks ago it was announced that Cindy McCain was going to travel to Rwanda as part of a group to discuss the effects of poverty and disease on the people in that country. Huh? Is there any need for this trip outside of the obvious political move to show that they care about Africa? If the McCain campaign is trying to make political points by showing you care about people of color, why not go to West Baltimore or Southeast D.C.? It would be interesting to see if that trip is ever on either John or Cindy McCain’s schedule.

Obama and his overseas trip plans are equally as baffling. I understand the political necessity of going to Iraq and Afghanistan to close the Commander in Chief credibility gap with John McCain. A good series of photo opportunities with the troops is a safe political move. Obama has to walk a fine line in supporting the efforts of our troops, restating his position that the War in Iraq is not the correct course for our country, and outline a realistic withdrawal policy that makes sense militarily while being sensitive to Iraqi internal political interests.

My issue with Obama’s trip is the visit to Berlin. First, the advance team made a monumental mistake of trying to drop their candidate into a situation that reminded Americans of two of the greatest presidents of the 20th century, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Of course, the difference is that they were the President and their speeches were directed at the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Who exactly is Obama trying to address with a speech in Berlin? The scrutiny he will receive over this speech will make or break this foreign trip; nothing else will matter, so he better nail it.

My suggestion to Obama: forget Berlin, go to Mecca. If you really want to be seen in a Kennedy / Reagan light in the diplomatic arena, you should use your popularity and your unique heritage to address the Christian and Muslim worlds. A thoughtful speech that focuses on our similarities, rather than our differences, is clearly needed between both communities of faith. Kennedy and Reagan in their speeches addressed the major foreign policy concerns of our country. Obama has the opportunity to do something similar if he takes up this challenge. However, the issue is much trickier and more dangerous than either Kennedy or Reagan had to face. Instead of disarming conventional and nuclear weapons, Obama has to disarm fear and prejudice on both sides, Christian and Muslim.

This is where the “Audacity of Hope” meets the reality of fear…let’s see if hope can transform the world once again.

Author: TONY CAMPBELL, Columnist

10 Comments

  1. Tony – Just for your edification, non-muslims are barred from entering Mecca & Medina. Roadblocks are forcefully enforced.

  2. I would think that would be a security nightmare.

  3. Tony, as pointed out by Tony, do you just bloviate and just not really bother understanding anything you write. In your rush to make a point, you fail to understand the political realities of life in Saudi Arabia (ie. Bush's oil buddy's family owned country).

  4. I can see the author's objections. Germans are sensitive and more than a bit hardened about becoming mesmerized by speechifiers like Obama. They made a little boo-boo getting swept up in that kind of thing before and they're more likely than any nation, except maybe France, nowadays to cast a critical and discerning eye at substance instead of fluff.

    So yeah, better keep Obama out of Germany…

  5. What jdledell said is right. Of course, a substantial number of idiots actually believe that Obama IS a Muslim.

  6. It strikes me that if Obama were admitted to Mecca it would only stoke all those suspicions that he's a Muslim.

    Berlin makes sense for a couple reasons. First, the point is to highlight the transatlantic alliance that frayed so bad under Bush. Second, Berlin is not on the border between East and West, but is a crossroads of the new Europe, where people from Poland, Czech Republic and elsewhere mingle with Germans, French and British. Germany, like most European countries, thinks very highly of Obama. It doesn't carry the “wimpy” connotations of France. And it's decidedly more “European” than London. I think Berlin is perfect.

    As a Jew, I find the concern trolling over the Siegerssaule to be quite obscene. It is not a “Hitler monument.” It's the site of Berlin's annual gay pride parade (called Christopher Street Day). It's the largest gathering place in the Tiergarten, which is like Central Park. The notion that hundreds of thousands of excited Germans somehow conjures up the Nuremburg rallies is disgusting. Does Godwin's Law apply?

  7. I find the constant berating of the french offensive, and really quite neoconish….childish even..

    France is a fiercely independant nation that isn't afraid to speak its mind. I can see why some americans object to that… Some americans seem to get really huffy and even nervous around overtly sovereign nations like France. Their drive to dominate is seeping through the cracks of “patriotism”..

    We should respect other nation's rights to have opinions that differ from ours and their rights to govern themselves as they see fit. The ONLY time the US should interfere with other nations is if there is gross and ongoing human rights violations and this should be done via diplomatic or sanction means only. The UN would work if only the US would cooperate in the ideals of individual sovereignty instead of its apparent agenda of domination..

  8. How long before someone suggests Obama should go to Munich instead of Berlin, Egypt instead of Jordan, China instead of Europe and ad nauseum? And by the way, shouldn't he go to Turkey and India?

    I thought the phenomenon to inspire awe was the rise of Obama. Now I see that the real phenomenon consists of the bizarre and outlandish reactions to him.
    Suddenly everyone is an expert, who knows so much better what Obama should do than Obama. does.

    I can't figure out where this fixation comes from. Meanwhile, McCain is jumping up and down trying to get attention in any way he can , and no one advises him what he should say and where he should go..
    Why is that?

  9. Why doesn't he visit Israel and Saudi Arabia (Riyadh)?

    heh, heh

  10. Another tractor attack in Jerusalem. Welcome to the real world, Obama and fans.

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