German attack on Obama and Americans

In: Uncategorized

17 Nov 2009

Christian Schwägerl, writing an opinion piece in Der Spiegel, exhibits a strident moral superiority when criticising Barack Obama’s rejection of accepting binding limits on carbon emissions at the forthcoming Copenhagen summit. Schwägerl makes the worst possible criticism he can of Obama – likening him to George W Bush:

“Barack Obama cast himself as a ‘citizen of the world’ when he delivered his well-received campaign speech in Berlin in the summer of 2008. But the US president has now betrayed this claim. In his Berlin speech, he was dishonest with Europe. Since then, Obama has neglected the single most important issue for an American president who likes to imagine himself as a world citizen, namely his country’s addiction to fossil fuels and the risks of unchecked climate change.”

He then goes on to make a sweeping attack on Americans for being parochial:

“For most Americans, the world beyond the US’s borders is nothing more than an irritating nuisance. Hence arguments based on appeals about drowning Bangladeshis, starving Africans and flooded islands in Indonesia have little effect. In Hollywood, the United States has an industry that continually pushes the materialistic ideal of Western prosperity to billions of people around the world, while at the same time bombarding them with apocalyptic visions in the form of disaster movies.”

Perhaps Schwägerl should interrogate his own ideas before making such sweeping attacks on others. There is good reason to question whether climate change is the most important issue facing humanity. And in his own way Schwägerl betrays a parochial outlook. He should ask himself why countries – including Germany – find it much easier to make pious statements about climate change than to actually cut emissions.

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