Germany gives Obama mixed reception for speech on nuclear disarmament
June 19, 2013
Throughout the recent past, the general German populace has had a somewhat lukewarm view of American heads of state, and the United States' foreign policy, particularly in the early and mid-2000s, during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While this lessened to an extent after the election of President Barack Obama, recent administration scandals, particularly the reveal of the National Security Agency's (NSA) phone and web surveillance programs, have renewed some of that uncertainty. As such, the President earned a mixed reception upon his arrival in Berlin, Germany, where he delivered a speech focusing on nuclear disarmament and other policy issues. Obama's arrival was likely a prominent topic of conversation on phone calls among Germans conducted using a prepaid phone card.
According to USA Today, about 5,000 guests were invited to view the speech at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, the site of the former Berlin Wall, and hundreds more watched from outside the closed perimeter. Before addressing the crowd, President Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss various foreign policy matters, most of which centered around the Middle East - Iran's recent presidential election, the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan - and the European economy, such as the continent's ongoing debt crisis.
The crowd responded most positively to Obama's stated intentions to focus on alternative energy uses, oversee a substantial reduction in the nuclear stockpiles of the United States and Russia and close the infamous military prison facility in Guantanamo Bay. Some Berlin citizens complained about the traffic delays and public transportation issues caused by the event, while others expressed discontent that Obama had failed to deliver on numerous promises.
According to Fox News, Obama's disarmament plan would cut the maximum number of Russian and American nuclear warheads from 1,550 - the limit established in the New START treaty of 2010 - to somewhere between 1,100 and 1,000. During his speech, the President flatly stated, "So long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe," the source reports.
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