In 2008 Barack Obama, the first black candidate for the presidency of the United States, held a speech in the German capital, Berlin, in front of thousands of people. In those days Obama was a superstar. With the power of his words and the message of hope that he spread throughout America and the world, he conquered the hearts of millions of people who believed that he would bring change and, most importantly, that he would be different, completely different from his predecessor. Many believed that Obama would inaugurate an era of peace, economic prosperity, and international co-operation.
I felt privileged for having the chance to take part in that historic event. I remember how, in the late afternoon of July 24, I and a friend of mine joined the crowds of people who flooded the 17th of June Street in the centre of the German capital. That street was named after the uprising of 17 June, 1953, during which East German workers took to the streets to protest against the economic policy of the Communist regime. The revolt was brutally suppressed by the East German government with the help of Soviet tanks.
The street leads to another symbol of German history, the 'Victory Column', which was constructed after German unification in 1871 to remember the glorious victory of the German troops against France. It was in front of this monumental column that Barack Obama held his inspirational speech. It was a beautiful, sunny day, the atmosphere was great, and it seemed that the US was ready to become again worthy of its role as the country of liberty and prosperity.
So many years after that speech, there is no denying that Obama has disappointed many of his former supporters, including me. He has not radically changed American economic policy and has not delivered the recovery everyone had hoped for. The United States of today is still a country where the wealth gap is too wide, where industry struggles to compete with the rest of the world, where not enough jobs are created, and where hard work does not equate high wages.
But at least - many people thought - under Obama the US has not plunged into another disastrous war. Yet now even this very last hope risks to be frustrated.