April 7, 2009
Obama skipped Normandy visit to avoid offending Germany?
A mostly overlooked Daily Telegraph report instructs us that White House advance teams went through the motions of exploring a presidential visit to Normandy, where thousands of American soldiers are buried after giving their lives in the cause of defeating Nazism.
White House officials travelled to France at the start of March to discuss a visit by Mr Obama to Omaha Beach, the site of the American Cemetery, established in 1944 just after D-Day and where 9,387 American personnel are buried. Among them is Theodore Roosevelt Jr the eldest son of the 26th US President.French officials and senior American military officers walked with White House staff through the cemetery discussing how the two presidents might follow the same route. But even before their trip, the White House had decided that Mr Obama would not travel there this week."It wasn't going to happen," said an American official in Washington. "We went through the motions to placate President Sarkozy but giving special treatment to France was not on our agenda."During this trip, we wanted to maintain a balance between the British, German and France". A White House spokesman in London declined to comment. Last month, White House officials briefed that a Normandy visit had been considered but it had not been logistically possible.
Unless I am very mistaken, the German government, still our NATO ally, repudiates Nazism and celebrates the liberation of Germany from Hitler's rule. How Germany would be offended by a presidential visit to Normandy needs explanation. Was the President worried about offending neo-Nazis in Germany? Was he worried about the reaction in the Muslim world, toward whose faith he expressed his "deep appreciation," many of whose leaders (for example, the Grand Muftti of Jerusalem) were supportive of the Nazis during World War II?
Hat tip: Debbie Schlussel