Stanley's blog

Barack Obama goes home

Kuwait – Afghanistan – Iraq – Jordan – Israel – West Bank – Berlin – Paris – London, was the Barack Obama itinerary for the past week. The ‘celebrity tour’ element was a great success. However, the tour was part of his American electoral campaign, and the degree of its success will be seen in the US.

Have we learned anything new? I suspect the week has re-inforced much of what was already known. This was a bold, superbly orchestrated but risky exercise. But his Iraqi military withdrawal plan was well received by Prime Minister Nouri-al-Makiki. In Afghanistan, he expressed the views of many in the need to focus on that country and Pakistan in the fight against terrorism. Considering his strong pro-Israeli stand taken recently, he did well not to receive an Arab backlash – the visit to the West Bank clearly paid off.

The speech made in Washington on 15 July set out, for the first time, Obama’s foreign policy overview. The follow-up speech in Berlin did not add much to this. There were no other set pieces delivered.

Angela Merkel was right to stress that “major changes” cannot be expected in US foreign policy, whoever the next occupant of the White House. However, the Obama approach to Europe will clearly be co-operational, rather than confrontational. But he will also be looking for less criticism and more burden-sharing in security and defence.

Obama left the cautious, balanced Merkeland for Sarko’s Celebrityland. The President’s unrestrained enthusiasm for son “copain” seemed temporarily to surprise his guest. Sarkozy even spoke of “une grande convergence de vues avec Obama.” A telling statement was perhaps, “Mais on a le droit d’être intéressé par un candidat qui regarde l’avenir et pas le passé ».

The tour closed by graphic contrast in Brownland, where the visit was kept deliberately in low key. A two hour talk and a stroll before Senator Obama spoke to reporters. He said his conversation with Mr Brown in Downing Street had been “terrific”. There were also meetings with Tony Blair and David Cameron.

Obama’s statement that, “The reason that I thought this trip was important is that I am convinced that many issues that we face at home are not going to be solved as effectively unless we have strong partners abroad”, was welcome as was his call for a “strong transatlantic partnership”. The Senator has made clear that he expects the European partners to contribute more military support than they have up to now – and it will be much more difficult to resist Obama than to refuse Bush.

We will, of course, have to wait to see what President Obama says and does (assuming that he makes it), but we’re at least enjoying the right music and some good theatre.

Seeing Obama and Sarkozy together is like seeing two young men in a hurry and determined to bring in change. They appear both, in very different ways, to be men of their time. We can certainly expect some excitement and hope may even begin to chase away fear, which has been ruling too long.

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  1. Barack Obama is mainly a candidate for domestic issues. Americans are losing their jobs, losing their homes, and the current occupant of the Whitehouse appears to be indifferent to it all. It was John McCain that was critical of Obama for not having foreign policy experience and prodded him to take a trip overseas.

    What I liked about his Berlin speech was the emphasis on immigration. Obama started with the story about his Kenyan father and there was an African cheer from the crowd. What was pointed about the immigration messages in Obama’s speech is that they were in the backdrop of the passage of the harsh and punitive immigration policies sweeping Europe, including the “Return” Directive, which would essentially jail “illegal” migrants for 18 months and banish them from the European Continent for five years!!! Yes – this was an important part of Obama’s message to Europe.

  2. funny how we become a third world country,,, CNN & MSNBC would report on other country election how the dictator would rig the election, or force the election, with Barack Obama CNN & Msnbc or forcing this election,, they know and had Meeting on viewers & people who can not think for them selves
    Look at this we became a reality tv show, like most of the has nothing to do with Reality,
    CNN , Msnbc are proud to help rig this election, look at the News,, it shows the fact,,
    “Barack Obama plain lifted off, Obama plain has landed, Barack Obama went to the bathroom, Barack Obama Picked his Nose and he did it like he was already the President,
    EveryTime Barack speaks Wolf blitzer & Keith Oberman get an erection.
    And let know forget Anderson Cooper , who has a life size cut out of barack obama he sleeps with, …….

  3. Dear Stanley,

    I think you make some very good points. Apparently, Obama’s poll numbers actually went down after his trip to Europe. His trip’s immense popularity overseas hasn’t translated to success in form of poll numbers in the U.S. The election looks to be very close.

    Btw. . . May i link your blog to mine?


  4. Here, on the other side of the Atlantic, nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, in that strange breakaway state known as California, we contemplate the Obama phenom with bemused eyes. The man is popular, the man is beautiful, the man has a beautiful wife and beautiful children, the man has yet to formulate any policy that he has not immediately reversed!

    We listen to his immigration policy, in a country where up to 30 million people are here illegally, and he first opposed any immigration reform from the laissez-faire to the sanctuary cities, then, when Hillary started to point out that 10% of our population was here illegally, he reversed. His Iraq policy has gone from withdrawal to a year and a half. He started out as a people’s campaigner not accepting corporate donations to being the biggest beneficiary of petrobucks.

    He cute, he cool, he is just another politician on the make, like George, like McCain like all the others.

    We are 300 million Americans and we are almost as bad as the Belgians at forming a decent government!

  5. Despite the criticism that Sen Obama has morphed into the traditional American politician, one must admit that his stance on immigration has not changed, I recently ran across his answers to a detailed questionnaire about immigration law issues, and his positions have remained remarkably consistent. His stance is informed by an appreciation of the fact that minorities in the US both contribute substantially to the country’s strength, and are at risk if not protected by a fair and open set of immigration policies that are consistently enforced. A source document can be found at

  6. His stance is informed by an appreciation of the fact that minorities in the US both contribute substantially to the country’s strength, and are at risk if not protected by a fair and open set of immigration policies that are consistently enforced. A source document can be found at

    Minorities aren’t the problem Dr. Swart, and I think you (and everyone else) knows this. It’s not minorities anyone is concerned with, it’s ILLEGAL ALIENS.

    Those folks who come to the USA without any documentation. Offering them amnesty is an absurd solution! Barak’s “add them to the legal immigration line” solution is NOT POSSIBLE, like the very few other issues he’s actually fleshed out (the man is gifted in the art of non-specifics). Not only does it send the wrong message, one has to wonder what adding 12 MILLION PEOPLE to the “LEGAL IMMIGRATION LINE” would do to the LEGAL IMMIGRANTS who have been waiting for years to be allowed into the USA. Sure, Obama claims the Illegals would go to the back of the line, but that adds 12 million border-skippers to an already long line. The added backlog will penalize legal immigration seekers for years to come.

    Heck, maybe Obama could put some of those 12 million illegals on the immigration-staff to speed up getting these millions through the process (in Obama’s Koombaya Worldview, this could be mistaken for a serious suggestion)

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