Different Answers Across The Pond
The town hall meeting President Obama held in Strasbourg, France today included some answers I would like to see at town halls in Omaha, Nebraska:
Even with the Cold War now over, the spread of nuclear weapons or the theft of nuclear material could lead to the extermination of any city on the planet. And this weekend in Prague, I will lay out an agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. (Applause.)
We also know that the pollution from cars in Boston or from factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, and that that will disrupt weather patterns everywhere. The terrorists who struck in London, in New York, plotted in distant caves and simple apartments much closer to your home. And the reckless speculation of bankers that has new fueled a global economic downturn that's inflicting pain on workers and families is happening everywhere all across the globe.
He later elaborated that time is running out to tackle climate change, and that all the countries of the world must do more. With Arctic sea ice now thought to be virtually gone within 30 years, he's absolutely right. But changing public opinion in Strasbourg is a lighter lift than changing it in Nebraska, in Mississippi, in Alabama. They too need to hear a progressive message from their leaders.
They may even be ready to hear the President's middle name:
Q I just want to know what do you expect from the French and the European countries regarding the war on terror?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good. That's a good question. Look, I think that over the last seven, eight years, as I said in my speech, a lot of tensions have developed between the United States and Europe. And one of the legacies, I hope, from my administration is, is that we start bringing our historic alliance back together in a much more effective way.
Now, that doesn't mean that we're not going to have honest disagreements. All countries have disagreements between themselves. But I think that we can work much more effectively and cooperatively, and maintain that core trust that we have towards each other.
Nowhere have we seen more suspicion than around questions of war and peace and how we respond to terrorism. When 9/11 happened, Europe responded as a true friend would respond to the United States, saying, "We are all Americans." All of us have a stake in ensuring that innocent people who were just going about their business, going to work, suddenly find themselves slaughtered -- all of us have an interest in preventing that kind of vicious, evil act.
But after the initial NATO engagement in Afghanistan, we got sidetracked by Iraq, and we have not fully recovered that initial insight that we have a mutual interest in ensuring that organizations like al Qaeda cannot operate. And I think that it is important for Europe to understand that even though I'm now President and George Bush is no longer President, al Qaeda is still a threat, and that we cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as President, suddenly everything is going to be okay.
I agree with all these messages. I just think an American audience could handle them, too.