Video of Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention:
Accepting his party's nomination for president, Barack Obama not only focused on domestic politics, but also reiterated the "fundamental change" he would like to bring to US foreign policy He promised to "restore America's moral standing in the world" and to "end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan."
He stressed his differences with the Republican nominee: "John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives." This line drew some of the most enthusiastic applause among the 80,000 supporters in Denver's largest football stadium. Obama wanted to stress his relatively hawkish position on Pakistan: he had earlier promised to run down high-value terrorist targets inside Pakistan even without that government's authorization, i.e., he would violate the sovereignty of a US ally in a unilateral move. American unilateralism has long been criticized by the Europeans. Pakistan's ambassador to Washington, however, has said that US-Afghan-Pakistani cooperation in the war on terror will improve after Musharraf's resignation. See the atlantic-community.org article Pakistan's New Commitment in the War on Terror.
Obama emphasized that strong rhetoric alone is not sufficient: "I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." He further argued, "you don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances." This line could be interpreted as a response to McCain, who declared "We are all Georgians now" and opposes direct high-level negotiations with Tehran and was even caught singing about bombing Iran.
Obama did not elaborate further on these "oldest alliances" nor did he once mention NATO or Europe in his speech. Instead he indicated "I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease." This might indicate that he is looking beyond Europe for new allies. Senator Obama was criticized for not convening policy meetings as the chairman of the Senate European Subcommittee. Do you think the Atlantic Alliance is less important for Obama than for McCain? Or do you consider Obama an Atlanticist because he visited Germany, France and Britain during his election campaign?
A President Obama would certainly demand more burden-sharing from Europeans. Watch his speech in Berlin and the attendees' reactions in our video interviews. Last week atlantic-community.org started to discuss whether Europe will be able to continue the security policy of free-riding. We invite you to continue to share your views and your policy recommendations.