Friday, July 25, 2008

Ich bin ein CND member?

Ordinarily I would not have the opportunity to watch a Barack Obama speech live in the early evening because I would be traveling on the Tube, but as I was in the Green Room at Sky last night waiting to fumble my words on Sky News (video to follow) I got to see the whole thing.

There is no doubt about it that he is inspirational speaker, and his decision to do a little tour of European countries, starting with Germany and Berlin, and going to Britain and France to try and bolster his foreign policy credentials is probably a good one for the need of his domestic electorate.

What struck me as amazing were the number of people turned out to watch him. Officially it was reported that they were mostly Germans, but the cynic in me wonders how many were ex-pat military types stationed in the country. However, it was not just the crowd but what he said that surprised.

For a start the speech was littered with lots of fluffy cliches like "this is our moment, this is our time", but also buried inside was a call by Obama that he would seek nuclear disarmament of not just the usual suspects like Iran, but the US as well.

As he said I actually exclaimed the word "Jesus" because as strategies go it seems to be a crazy one. OK, so he was playing to the German audience who are not big fans of nuclear weapons, but this speech will be played at home as well where it really matters.

If you're a Democrat you can, fair enough, talk about ending the war in Iraq and other things and there will be floating voters across the spectrum that that message will appeal too. However, implying that one of your foreign policy objectives is to disarm your nations ability to defend itself along inter-continental is way out there.

I would be very surprised if the Republicans do not produce an attack ad on this point. In Obama's favour is time I guess, if he doesn't drill that message home too much again then it may get lost amongst the other platitudes and arguments that are yet to come.

It will certainly be interesting to see what he says in Britain and France, two nuclear nations, on the subject. If he doesn't say it again then it will be seized upon as him being shallow and playing to an audience. If he does, he sets himself up as potentially trying to bind the Governments of France and Britain in advance of an election win.

What should be kept in mind of course is that if he wins then it is likely things will change. Being out of office and calling for disarmament is easy. Being in office and having the 3am phone calls from the DoD or State Department often have a tendency to change most residents of the Oval Office.


Henry Crun said...

Looks like the Yanks are going to elect their own crowd-pleasing TV evangelist to high office - that's the US well and truly fucked then.

Al said...

Just checked Fox News, who oddly don't seem to have picked up on it. Maybe it's because (like most of what he says) it's so vague and meaningless ("wouldn't it be nice if we didn't blow each other up with nukes all the time?") that you can't really tell what his policy on it actually is. You can bet your bottom dollar he's never ACTUALLY going to go about disarming the US.

An extract of what he said:

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom.

It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

ianvisits said...

Technically, the USA is legally obliged to disarm its nuclear arsenal though.

As a signatory to the nuclear non proliferation treaty, article 6 of which generally (if not specifically) requires nuclear capable countries to disarm, and for non-nuclear countries to not seek military nuclear capability in exchange for civilian usage and that implicit understanding that eventually, the nuclear countries will cease to be, well - nuclear.

Senator Obama was simply reiterating an existing US government policy - albeit one that most people are not that aware of - that the USA is expected to eventually disarm all its nuclear warheads.

Obviously, the practical reality is that the USA will never do that though.

canvas said...

Obama is amazing. What other person, never mind politician, can draw crowds like Obama can?

Barack Obama's message resonates across the world. His language and his tone is spot on.

Obama didn't give a boring policy wonk speech - that's not what it was about.

I think the world will be a better place if Obama becomes President - and I've always believed that's what will happen.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

@henry crun: there is one small ray of hope.

Anonymous said...

"Obama didn't give a boring policy wonk speech - that's not what it was about."

No, he merely indulged in public mental masturbation as a substitute for substance. But then, hopefully, the American voters will cotton on to the fact that B Hussien Obama has, in the final analysis, nothing to offer but empty rhetoric.

canvas said...

anon at 18:51 -
McCain and Bush offer total misery and intellectual stagnation. Give me Obama's artful rhetoric anyday.