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Obama defends military action in Libya

March 29, 2011 10:38 IST

America should not bear the "burden of action" alone and other major powers should step up their efforts to prevent any humanitarian crisis in Libya, United States President Barack Obama has said.

"We should not be afraid to act, but the burden of action should not be America's alone," Obama said in his address to the nation. The US President made it clear to his countrymen that instead of unilateral military action in Libya, he advocated a policy of US leading a coalition of international forces.

"As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilise the international community for collective action, because, contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing the burden ourselves," he said.

"Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all. That's the kind of leadership we have shown in Libya," he said.

Obama said there will be times, though, when US's safety is not directly threatened, but its interests and values are.

"Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security -- responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce," he said.

"These may not be America's problems alone, but they are important to us. They're problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the US, as the world's most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help," Obama said.

Noting that a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer, Obama said this change will make the world more complicated.

"Progress will be uneven and change will come differently to different countries. There are places like Egypt where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes. And then there will be places like Iran where change is fiercely suppressed. The dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted, and difficult political and economic concerns will have to be addressed," he said.

Arguing that the US will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change, the US President said only the people of the region can do that.

"But we can make a difference. I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed against one's own people; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders...," he said.

"Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way, because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith -- those ideals -- that are the true measure of American leadership," Obama asserted.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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