Presidential hopeful Barack Obama spoke in Berlin last Thursday in front of 200,000 Germans. Some of his fans clung to lampposts, girls dyed their hair red, white and blue, others waved American flags, and enthusiastic supporters interrupted the speech, chanting “Pres-i-dent! Pres-i-dent!” Quite a change in a country where the American flag is sort of a sore spot.
The presumed Democrat nominee for the presidency and the source of “Obamania” is hailed as a superstar in Germany, where 76 percent of the populace supports him—some giving him the “rock star treatment,” some treating him like a “messiah.”
Obama stopped in Paris and London afterward, but it was Berlin’s environs that provided the stage for what was hailed as his keynote foreign-policy address, the pinnacle of his globetrotting tour through not only Europe but also the Middle East beforehand. Obama choosing Berlin over London and Paris is a strong signal that Gemany is already now one of the most important nations in Europe—if not the most.
Why did Berliners receive Obama so jubilantly? First, because his rhetoric and superstar ability to draw crowds is not wasted on Germans. Second, because German pride has taken a beating under the current administration due to transatlantic disagreements, most notably over Iraq.
And third, because he wants them to rise up.
Beyond choosing Berlin as his stage, a close look at what specifics Obama did get into during the speech reveals a view toward raising Germany to a stronger world power status, something that, from a historical perspective, should be somewhat unsettling. Germany is as eager as anybody to play a more significant role in the world, but Obama’s specific words on the future use of the Bundeswehr made even the Germans seem a little taken aback.
Obama first recounted the Allied airlift that saved the city from being swallowed up by communism, then touched on such “dangerous currents” as terrorism, global warming, nuclear weapons proliferation and drugs, calling for “old allies” to tear down walls between each other and “listen to each other, learn from each other and most of all, trust each other.”
“America has no better partner than Europe,” Obama said, to a round of applause.
Then he moved from applause-line platitudes to some of the only real specifics in the speech: Afghanistan, the Taliban, al Qaeda and “your troops.” Returning to the subject of global terrorism, the senator called for “a new and global partnership” to dismantle terrorist networks. “This is the moment,” Obama said, “when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war ….”
Judging by clap frequency and volume, the Germans weren’t as enthused about this part, but Obama continued. “I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan,” he said. “But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that nato’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success.” “[F]or our shared security,” he said, “the work must be done. America can’t do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops—and your troops.”
You can watch the tape. Compared to earlier reactions, the applause was only a smattering. For a long time after World War ii, active German troops was a taboo, to say the least. Obama went on to say, “In this century we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent—while extending a hand abroad.” Apparently, in enlisting Germany and Europe in a more powerful and forceful role, the presidential candidate is more enthusiastic than the Germans themselves.
But here is the larger significance: We are not just talking about Obama. Presumed Republican nominee John McCain also feels that America should step back and that Germany and Europe should shoulder more of the load of policing the world. Late last year, he wrote, “Americans should welcome the rise of a strong, confident European Union.” In fact, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also supports American reliance on a more powerful Europe. So here is the real significance: It is not that Obama—or McCain, or Clinton—supports Germany playing a larger role in world strategic affairs, but the fact that this is a shared principle pervasive throughout Washington’s power circles.
But this consensus is not a new fad.
Think back: Former President Bill Clinton was awarded the Charlemagne Prize in 2000. That’s the prize for the person who, more than anyone else, renders “distinguished service on behalf of European unification,” and it’s named after a man who did so by conquest and slaughter, drawing blood in war after war after war.
But American presidential support for German and European empowerment goes back much further. The two most famous presidential addresses in Berlin were John F. Kennedy’s in 1963 and Ronald Reagan’s in 1987, both of which bolstered Germany in an effort to blunt the perceived larger threat: the Soviets. Decades before that, Harry S. Truman oversaw the incredible airlift that kept Berlin from becoming a groaning city languishing under the Communist heel—that was just three years after Adolf Hitler issued his last order to the German army and people. These efforts appeared to yield great victories. They are still hailed as such today.
But the best-laid plans of pundits and presidents often go awry. Ultimately, even the sharpest diplomacy and the most intelligent and powerful strategies developed by arguably the smartest men in the world are all inexorably leading to one final round of failure: World War iii.
The Bible forecasts that Europe will indeed continue to unify around Germany. It will also continue to develop its economic, political and military power precipitously until it becomes far stronger than any Washington strategist can now imagine. Think World War ii levels—and then some. When the new German Reich begins to assert its strength, the memories and history represented by the city in which Obama spoke and the Victory Column of Prussian conquest under which he stood will come rushing back. The world—one more time—will be plunged into war.
Although no one could forecast it now; although all the analysts and planners and commentators see a unified Europe as an economic-based infant political entity at best, an almost-dead pseudo union at worst; and although it appears that America has no better partner, Germany will do it again.
In the Bible, God condemns the brutality with which Germany conquers its victims, but He also says that Germany’s destructiveness is the rod of His anger, correcting rebellious, sinful nations that will listen to Him no other way. Germans are no worse a people than any other. The Berliners’ subdued reaction to calls for more German militarism indicates that—they have not completely forgotten World War ii yet. But the “mutable Germans,” as Luigi Barzini wrote, have an intrinsic ability to suddenly rally around one strong leader, and—under the wrong leader and the wrong ideology—to combine into the greatest national war-making machine on the planet. Almost nothing can stand up to the German blitzkrieg.
In spite of what comparatively sedate current conditions indicate, Berlin and its European empire-in-waiting will soon transform into a war-making power bloc unlike any in history—except its past incarnations, a pair of which plunged the world into global war twice in the past century. This time, however, it will be armed with nuclear missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
And no one sees it coming. In fact, policy-makers and presidential candidates are cultivating a stronger Germany! And why shouldn’t they? Europe has Western values. Its militaries are still outclassed by American might. It is democratic (although every successive EU treaty makes it less so). And Europe likes us far better than the Middle East—or Asia—does. If you don’t know what the Bible forecasts, and if you regard the world wars as ancient history, it may make good sense to do exactly what the American leadership is doing.
Yet raising up Germany will end in America’s downfall.
This quandary cannot and will not be solved by more diplomacy, different strategies, a Reaganite conservative or even a new Churchill. As Gen. Douglas Macarthur told us, “It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.” Mankind cannot rule itself! For all our tactics and maneuverings, we are writing an indelible lesson in human ineffectualness and helplessness apart from God. The same God who prophesied almost every major current event you see in your daily headlines is about to allow us to experience the ultimate aversion therapy, the final catastrophic conflagration of our own making.
But that’s not the end. There is good news! God is letting us burn ourselves so that He can use this great lesson to teach us to listen to Him and to love Him and obey Him. And just as sure as America has risen and Germany will rise, mankind will come face to face with its own failures and finally turn to God, ultimately entering the greatest nation and government ever: God’s Family. •