Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

In Berlin Speech, Obama Renews Calls for Nuclear Reductions

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

In Berlin Speech, Obama Renews Calls for Nuclear Reductions

Article excerpt

BERLIN --

Appealing for a new citizen activism in the free world, President Barack Obama renewed his call today to reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles and to confront climate change, a danger he called "the global threat of our time."

In a wide-ranging speech that enumerated a litany of challenges facing the world, Mr. Obama said he wanted to reignite the spirit that Berlin displayed when it fought to reunite itself during the Cold War.

"Today's threats are not as stark as they were half a century ago, but the struggle for freedom and security and human dignity, that struggle goes on," Mr. Obama said at the city's historic Brandenburg Gate under a bright, hot sun. "And I come here to this city of hope because the test of our time demands the same fighting spirit that defined Berlin a half-century ago."

The president called for a one-third reduction of U.S. and Russian deployed nuclear weapons, saying it is possible to ensure American security and a strong deterrent while also limiting nuclear weapons.

Mr. Obama's address comes nearly 50 years after John F. Kennedy's famous Cold War speech in this once-divided city. Shedding his jacket and at times wiping away beads of sweat, the president stood behind a bullet-proof pane and addressed a crowd of about 4,500, reading from paper because the teleprompter wasn't working.

It was a stark contrast to the speech the president delivered in the city in 2008, when he summoned a crowd of 200,000 to embrace his vision for American leadership. Whereas that speech soared with his ambition, this time Mr. Obama came to caution his audience not to fall into self-satisfaction.

"Complacency is not the character of great nations," Mr. Obama insisted.

"Today," he said, "people often come together in places like this to remember history, not to make it. Today we face no concrete walls or barbed wire."

The speech came just one week shy of the anniversary of Kennedy's famous Cold War speech in which he denounced communism with his declaration "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner). Mr. Obama, clearly aware that he was in Kennedy's historic shadow, asked his audience to heed the former president's message.

"If we lift our eyes as President Kennedy calls us to do, then we'll recognize that our work is not yet done," he said. …

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