When former president Barack Obama spoke in Berlin on Thursday, it appeared that he took a swipe at his successor, Donald Trump. While Obama didn’t mention Trump by name, he took a jab at the Trump campaign promise involving a very divisive wall.
As USA Today reports, Barack Obama was visiting Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate as part of a ceremony to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. A laughing and smiling Obama took the stage, German Chancellor Angela Merkel by his side, and took some time to address a crowd 70,000 strong in his first European speech since leaving office.
In his speech, the former president (who is incredibly popular across Europe) spoke of the changes that have taken place globally over recent decades. Changes that don’t allow countries and societies to hide themselves away from the rest of the world.
Especially in instances involving poverty and social inequality.
“If there are disruptions in these countries, if there is bad governance, if there is war or if there is poverty, in this new world that we live in we can’t isolate ourselves. We can’t hide behind a wall”
The throngs of adoring onlookers cheered at former president Obama’s words, words that doubtless struck a deep chord in Berlin, a city whose own infamous wall didn’t fall until November of 1989.
While Barack Obama enjoyed a warm welcome in Berlin, and an easy camaraderie with Chancellor Merkel, Donald Trump wasn’t greeted quite as warmly when he was received in Brussels just hours later. While Trump and Obama have shied away from publicly rubbing elbows or otherwise directly engaging one another since Donald took office, their Thursday schedules had them speaking in Europe on the same day.
Unlike the tens of thousands of screaming, cheering supporters Barack Obama impressed with his anti-wall talk in Berlin, Trump’s audience was much more subdued as he addressed fellow world leaders at the NATO headquarters. During his speech, Trump would question the cost of the new NATO facilities while criticizing European leaders for their sub-par defense spending payments.
While at that same meeting of NATO world leaders, Trump was caught on camera putting his hands on Montenegro’s prime minister, Dusko Markovic, seemingly to push himself to the front of the crowd.
After Barack Obama took his turn at the mic in Berlin, Chancellor Merkel took a moment to share her thoughts on more privileged nations accepting refugees in the midst a global crisis. During his presidency, Barack Obama had a staunch supporter and ally in the German chancellor, who took roughly 1 million refugees into Germany in the last two years alone in response to the civil war in Syria.
“When we look at the topic of the refugees, hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people in Germany showed compassion, receptiveness and solidarity.”
As Reuters reports, Barack Obama spoke for an hour and a half in Berlin, and never once did he mention Donald Trump directly. Obama did, however, warn those in attendance about the folly of taking peace and prosperity for granted, conceding that the world is “at a crossroads.” And one of the biggest problems facing our progressing, developing, increasingly interconnected world is, according to Barack Obama, wealth inequality.
Because, in spite of concerted efforts by many world leaders and an ever-growing segment of the population, the global wealth inequality gap is getting bigger, not smaller. Even though the citizens of the world are better educated and have access to better medicine and more wealth than ever before.
“The world has never been wealthier, more healthy and never been better educated.”
According to Obama, the crossroads we are facing is one that requires us to either sustain the progress we’ve made and build upon it for the future or to abandon our efforts and build ineffectual walls.
“If we can sustain that progress, then I’m very optimistic about our future. My job now is to help them take it to the next step.”
So far, Donald Trump has yet to comment on former president Barack Obama and his pointed Berlin address.
[Featured Image by Gero Breloer/AP Images]