Sen. Barack Obama's recent speech in Berlin may have been a hit with American journalists. That, however, is due to most journalists' politics, not to the profundity of Obama's remarks. They were neither profound nor stirring. Indeed, a careful study of the speech should lead an impartial observer to be concerned about Obama's grasp of the world. I started my analysis last week; I conclude this week.
Let me begin with that which was praiseworthy.
Obama: "This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York."
This was Obama at his finest -- defining the enemy and defining the task.
Obama: "America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaida."
This, too, was important. Any American who calls on Europeans to fight is doing something courageous, as indeed Obama learned within a few days, when Europeans roundly criticized him for suggesting they contribute more to the war in Afghanistan. This only proves that with all his "global citizenship" talk, if he is elected, Obama will be no more popular in Europe than any other president who makes demands of Europeans.
But nearly all of the rest of the speech was either meaningless or wrong.
Obama: "The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow."
In the seven years since 9/11, I have not seen a study that relates terrorism to poverty. And, as everyone knows, all of the 9/11 terrorists came from relatively wealthy homes. Obama's assertion is simply a statement of faith. That faith is liberalism -- increasingly a doctrine with more non-empirically based beliefs, i.e., dogmas, than most traditional religion: "Poverty causes crime"; "black incarceration rates are a result of racism"; "war is not the answer"; "capital punishment doesn't deter"; "tax increases on 'the rich' help the economy"; "more money for education" and countless others.
Obama: "In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common."