Berlin (CBSDC) — President Obama challenged Americans and Europeans to continue fighting for the freedoms fought for in Berlin – a city long-divided in the Cold War – while also providing security for peace in the 21st Century.
Speaking in front of the German capital’s Brandenburg Gate, President Obama echoed John F. Kennedy’s famous speech almost exactly 50 years prior, when he asked of Berliners to “lift [their] eyes beyond the dangers of today, and beyond the freedom of merely this city, look to the day of peace with justice.”
Obama’s speech comes at a time when he is responding to government privacy concerns in the US, along with a continued war in Iraq and lingering terrorist concerns.
Obama stressed a balance of security and personal freedom.
“Security and openness are both necessary for peace with justice,” said Obama. “Government serves the power of the individual, and not the other way around.”
“We must move beyond the mindset of perpetual war: Closing the prison in Guantanamo, tightly controlling use of new technology like drones, security with the balance of the protection of privacy — I’m confident that balance can be struck.”
Obama stated that technology can help preserve security, but not at the expense of personal freedoms, and that security precautions “confront real dangers, not ordinary people.”
Obama followed in the footsteps of past U.S. leaders, asking Russia and the rest of the world to reduce nuclear capabilities. Obama said a review of the U.S. nuclear capability showed that stockpiles can be reduced by up to a third while maintaining the necessary deterrent.
“We are not truly safe as long as nuclear weapons exist,” said Obama. “The fate of this city came down to a simple question: will we live free or in chains?”
Obama’s latest proposals come two years after New START — a nuclear agreement between the United States and Russia — went into effect. New START, which stands for strategic arms reduction treaty, calls for each country to limit its nuclear warhead arsenal to 1,550 by the year 2018.
Obama’s foreign policy statements also included his challenge to tear down walls “in our own hearts,” by promoting peace across the world, including a solution for Israel and Palestinians.
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