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In Berlin, Obama Calls For Anti-Terror Cooperation
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In Berlin, Obama Calls For Anti-Terror Cooperation

Election 2008


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

In a speech today in Berlin, Barack Obama challenged Europeans to join America in fighting terrorism and extremism. The Democratic presidential candidate recalled the wall the once split Berlin into east and west. And he warned of other walls that divide nations and individuals from one another. An estimated 200,000 people turned out for the speech.

NPR's Don Gonyea was there.

DON GONYEA: They poured into this park to see the American presidential candidate who polls show to be immensely popular here in Germany. A roar went up as he took the stage, erected in front of the towering Victory Column, a structure built in the 1800s.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Candidate): Although tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for president but as a citizen, a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.

(Soundbite of people cheering)

GONYEA: At times, this event, felt a lot like his stump speech, there was his personal story - a father born in Africa, a mother born in America's heartland. But he quickly turned to the need for a strong partnership between the United States and Europe. There were references to legendary speeches delivered in this city at the Berlin Wall by two American presidents, Kennedy and Reagan. Today, Obama repeatedly invoked the symbolism of that wall.

Sen. OBAMA: When you, the German people, tore down that wall, a wall that divided east and west, freedom and tyranny, fear and hope, walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed and the doors of democracy were opened.

GONYEA: Obama said U.S. and European interests are more entwined than ever before, citing first the threat posed by terrorist extremists.

Sen. OBAMA: If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

(Soundbite of cheers and applause)

GONYEA: All this week, during stops in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East, Obama has been talking of the need for more troops and more resources for the war in Afghanistan. Today, he called on European nations to send more troops there.

The Democratic presidential candidate also addressed the negative image of the United States held by so many Europeans - much of that driven by the Iraq war. But Obama noted that Americans often see Europe in a negative light, as well. He said neither view gives credit for the great good that each does. Still, he said, there are hard questions each has to face today.

(Soundbite of applause)

Sen. OBAMA: Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we...

(Soundbite of cheers and applause)

GONYEA: Then, this Berlin speech again became the stump speech that this Democratic candidate has delivered so many times in American towns and cities this year.

Sen. OBAMA: We are a people of improbable hope with an eye towards the future, with resolve in our hearts. Let us remember this history and answer our destiny and remake the world once again. Thank you, Berlin. God bless you.

(Soundbite of cheers and applause)

GONYEA: This speech was unusual because those in the audience can't even vote for the candidate. But ultimately, Senator Obama's appearance here was about something else - it is part of an effort to cast him as a world leader, to allow voters back home who maybe skeptical, to get a better picture of how he might do on such a stage.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, Berlin.

SIEGEL: You can read Barack Obama's speech or listen to it in full at It's in the Election 2008 section.

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