BERLIN – President Barack Obama, returning to Berlin Thursday, intended to reassure his most stalwart global ally, Chancellor Angela Merkel, about her prospects under Donald Trump.
Instead, Obama found himself warning of an impending shift in the global order, one he advised could lead to a “meaner, harsher, more troubled world” if not stopped.
“Whoever is president and whoever is the chancellor of Germany and whoever is the leader of other European nations and other democracies around the world, they need to recognize that,” Obama said. “There are going to be forces that argue for cynicism. For looking the other way with somebody else’s problems. That are not going to champion people who are vulnerable because sometimes that’s politically convenient.”
“If we don’t have a strong transatlantic alliance that’s standing up for those things, we will be giving to our children a worst world,” he said. “We will go backwards instead of forwards. So whoever the US president is, whoever the chancellor of Germany is, we need to remember that. And our citizenry who decide who our presidents and chancellors are need to remember that.”
It was a dire prediction that barely matched the upbeat attitude Obama has attempted to put forward as he works to facilitate a peaceful transition to Trump’s presidency. In his appearances in Europe, Obama has made a point of hailing the NATO alliance, insisting that Trump remains committed to upholding the group’s commitment to mutual defence. And he expressed cautious optimism Thursday that Trump would moderate his tone once he assumes office.