Former President Barack Obama warned that the United States could go the way of Nazi Germany in the 1930s if Americans are too complacent, Crain’s Chicago Business reports.
Speaking at the Economic Club in Chicago Tuesday, Obama alluded to President Donald Trump and the political atmosphere in the country without ever mentioning his name.
Obama said that one thing he has learned as a world citizen is that “things don’t happen internationally if we don’t put our shoulder to the wheel.”
“No other country has the experience and bandwidth and ideals,” he explained. “If the U.S. doesn’t do it, it’s not going to happen.”
Obama cited the fight against Ebola, which the US responded to by sending medical teams to Africa and even built an airport tarmac to bring in doctors.
“We probably saved a million lives by doing that,” he said.
The comments are a stark contrast from the current president’s “America First” shtick, which he uses to gin up the base, along with videos of alleged Muslims committing violence and ranting against any international criticism of his misled administration.
Obama later discussed the rise of nativist groups and tendencies around the world like those that gave rise to the current president, explaining that the speech of change and the unequal impact of globalization came too hastily for certain cultures.
He explained that bringing new things and people to areas where “people didn’t (used to) challenge your assumptions” means that “nothing feels solid.”
“Sadly, there’s something in us that looks for simple answers when we’re agitated,” he added.
Obama said that the country has survived bad times before, noting the Richard Nixon administration and Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade.
But he said that the country survived because of Trump’s sworn enemy: the free press.
Obama said he had problems with the media as president too, but “what I understood was the principle that the free press was vital.”
Obama explained that the danger is “growing complacent.”
“We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly,” he said.
“That’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s which, despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolph Hitler rose to dominate,” he continued.
“Sixty million people died,” he added. “So, you’ve got to pay attention. And vote.”
His comments came on the same day as German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel gave a speech denouncing the United States’ current path and warned that Trump’s foreign policy would hurt the West’s influence in the world.
“The U.S. no longer sees the world as a global community but as a fighting arena where everyone has to seek their own advantage,” Gabriel said. “Germany can no longer simply react to U.S. policy but must establish its own position…even after Trump leaves the White House, relations with the U.S. will never be the same.”
Obama later said that his biggest “regret and disappointment” is not doing more to strengthen gun control laws.
Obama recalled the 6-year-old girls killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, adding that “something is broke”