On July 19, Obama landed in Afghanistan, starting his week-long international visit. Afghanistan is the first stop. According to arrangements, Obama's visit is divided into three parts: Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East, and Europe. As a presidential candidate, Obama's first international stage performances brought about such sufficient attention that the established timetable in Afghanistan and Iraq has not been given for security reasons.
The Associated Press reported on the 20th that, as part of the overseas visits for the election campaign, he will meet leaders of European countries, King of Jordan Abdullah II, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Taking security issues into account, the Obama camp only provided some simple dates during his trip. Specific details were not disclosed. One senior foreign policy adviser named Dennis McDonough said that Obama will sit down with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as well as French President Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Brown, and Conservative Party leader Cameron. In Israel, besides Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Obama will also meet with President Shimon Peres and others. In addition, he will meet with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Compared with McCain, Obama's weakness is his lack of diplomatic experience. Therefore, the trip seems politically meaningful. However, the Obama camp has tried to lower their tones. First of all, Obama went on this trip as Congress representative. Besides him, there are two other Senators: Chuck Hegel and Jack Reed. In addition, his spokesman has repeatedly denied any political overtones in this visit. "This trip is not a campaign, just for solidarity." The Obama camp spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Obama has said that he will end the U.S. military occupation in Iraq with a speed of withdrawing 1-2 combat brigades per month. At the same time, he supported the decision to invest more troops in Afghanistan because the Taliban showed signs of recovery with bin Laden reportedly hiding among them. In addition, the dispute around the controversial location for Obama's speech in Germany also shows that his goal is not just as simple as “sitting together and chatting,” with Merkel. German media reported several days in a row that Obama hoped to be able to speak at the Brandenburg Gate, because this place is symbol of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall was built right in front of Brandenburg Gate. Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan gave quite a memorable speech here before. But Merkel has her own idea. She believes that since Obama is only a presidential candidate, it would be inappropriate for him to speak there. The Obama camp is trying very hard to reconcile these differences of opinion between the two sides. "We are looking for a suitable place in a series of German locations and we will try our best to find a perfect place that satisfies both," McDonough said.
Obama is actively planning his own trip, of course. He would like to use the trip to add credit to his diplomatic achievement. But some scholars believe that Obama is gambling his political future, with a coexistence of possible high risk and high income.
Both the U.S. domestic media and foreign media have given a considerable degree of attention to Barack's visit. A total of more than 200 reporters from national newspapers, magazines, radio, television and news agencies requested to accompany him. But Obama can only take about 40 of them. Among the major media, NBC, ABC and CBS are the three major television stations which obtained his commitment to an exclusive interview. They will send their top hosts - Brian Williams, Charles Gibson and Katie Couric - on this mission.
On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, "The Times" and "Daily Telegraph" also spared large layouts to report Obama’s trip. Some media commented that even the real president may not have such a degree of concern when visiting foreign nations. This year in May, McCain's visit to Europe and the Middle East did not make any of the three major television networks assign an accompanying host.