Moreover, North Korea’s recent launch of a rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead – officials claim it was part of space research – was cited as a new test of Obama’s resolve. Immediately, the president condemned North Korea for threatening peace and stability and called for an international response. And even though audiences that rivaled rock concerts came to hear him speak, Obama still witnessed mass protests and an anti-American sentiment – a hangover from the Bush Era – during the G20 and NATO summits.
He addressed this sentiment at a town hall session in Strasbourg. “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there are times when America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive,” he told the crowd. “But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what’s bad.”
He added, “On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.”
The president and the first lady continue to make significant and historic strides. For African Americans, their world tour offered a series of proud moment in which an African American couple operating at the highest level can command a dominant, powerful presence on the world stage, forever shattering the images of the past.
For the nation as a whole, it was a restorative event, driven by an engaged, confident leader respected by international powers. For the world, it signaled a new beginning initiated by a visionary committed to bridging the global divide.