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Libya: Obama speech signals a new direction for American foreign policy

Tonight's speech by President Obama was historic in the sense that it brilliantly defined a new direction in US foreign policy which is more humane, multilateral, and far less cowboyish than the world has come to know from his predecessor.

In other words, a stark departure from the Bush administration's more unilateralist methods. There are no "coalitions of the willing" here, no dismissive references to "Old Europe," no "you are with us or you are with the terrorists." Instead, the Obama White House has shown exquisite deference to the very international institutions and foreign governments that the Bush administration either steamrolled or ignored.

In the 27-minute speech, Obama made two parallel cases: first, that doing nothing would have run counter to U.S. ideals and national interests; and second, that to have acted alone or expanded the military mission to topple Gadhafi would have been too costly and repeated the mistakes of the Iraq War.

Obama said that America had a moral imperative in preventing Gadhafi from inflicting "a massacre" on his own people. He said there also was a strategic U.S. interest in blocking the Libyan leader. Otherwise the fragile democracy movements in Tunisia, Egypt and across the Arab world would be endangered, as tyrants would draw the lesson that "violence is the best strategy to cling to power."

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be among foreign ministers from 35 countries attending a meeting in London tomorrow which will include the Libyan opposition leader Mahmoud Jebril, based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to discuss the future of Libya after Gaddafi departs from the scene.

Click here for the complete speech of President Obama


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