“Young voters increasingly happy with Obama”

But, but, but.. that Quinni-Panic poll!!!!!!!!!!..

A new poll of 18- to 29-year-olds by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP) found 55 percent of so-called Millennials approve of Obama’s presidency — a six-point increase over a similar IOP survey in October. His approval rating is even higher among those attending a four-year college, where 60 percent back Obama. That was a nine-point increase from the last survey.

New AP Poll: President Obama at 53%. What? No big headlines? I’m shocked!!

So there was one poll yesterday morning that had the president at 42%, and obviously it was BIG NEWS. And last night this new AP/GfK poll came out, and they got PBO at 53%, which is much more in line with almost every other poll out there. But no, this won’t be BIG NEWS.

Inside the poll there’s a lot to choose from:
Likability… 84%
Favorability… 59%
Care about people like you… 59%
Will keep America safe… 61%
Understands problems of ordinary Americans… 60

I did like this take by politicususa:

The one point that emerged from this poll is that America really, really likes Barack Obama. When asked to evaluate how well Obama understands the big issues facing America, 68% believed that he understood them at least somewhat well. 60% believed that Obama understands the problems of ordinary Americans. 61% believed that he will keep America safe, and 59% thought that he understands their problems. 57% called Obama a strong leader, and most tellingly a whopping 84% said Obama is a likable person. It is tough for a lot of people to get 84% of their friends and family to call them likable, much less the entire country.

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Yea, but he didn’t go to march in Wisconsin.

Obama threatens veto of FAA bill over labor provision

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama would veto sweeping aviation legislation if Republicans in Congress succeed in gutting a rule favorable to airline and railroad union organizing, the White House said on Wednesday.

“The administration is committed to help working Americans exercise their right to organize under a fair and free process,” the White House said in a statement on the multi-billion-dollar bill that lays out long term U.S. aviation priorities.

The centerpiece of the legislation would authorize funding of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control operations and modernization of that system.

It is under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The chamber is expected to vote this week on an amendment to remove a provision in the bill eliminating an existing rule that makes it easier for unions in the airline and railroad industries to organize.

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We should definitely fire Geithner! Because how dare he take a shitty situation and make the best out of it:

TARP investment in banks repaid with profit

The portion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that went to banks has now turned a profit for the federal government, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday.

After receiving $7.4 billion in TARP repayments Wednesday, the Treasury has now received $251 billion from banks participating in various bailout programs, which is good for a $6 billion profit from the $245 billion originally handed out to banks. The department now estimates that bank investments under TARP will ultimately net taxpayers roughly $20 billion in profit.

Furthermore, the Treasury estimates that all the TARP programs combined — including money doled out to banks, insurance company American International Group (AIG) and domestic auto companies — will result in “little to no cost to taxpayers.”

// more

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Why would any sane American ever vote for GOP???

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 I mean, these people are just idiots:

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Or maybe there’s still some hope:

IT’S NOT JUST GLENN BECK: FOX News Has Lost 21% Of Its Audience This Year

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Hey, pssssst, the economy is getting much better

Market Watch:

1. The ADP employment survey released Wednesday showed 201,000 private-sector jobs were created in March, roughly in line with expectations and close to February’s growth of 208,000. This index is based on anonymous data collected by ADP, which handles the payrolls for millions of workers. The best news in the ADP report was the strong hiring at small companies and at manufacturing companies, which had the best growth in more than 10 years.

2. Big employers are laying off fewer workers, according to a count by Challenger Gray & Christmas released Wednesday. In March, these employers announced 41,528 job reductions, down 39% from a year earlier. Nearly half of the cuts were in the government sector. For the first quarter, announced job reductions were at the lowest level in 16 years.

3. Online job advertisements increased by 208,000 in March to 4.45 million, according to the Conference Board, a private research group. Online vacancies increased by more than 600,000 during the first quarter.

4. U.S. payrolls increased by 293,000 in March, according to an analysis of withheld federal tax receipts by TrimTabs Investment Research. TrimTabs says tax records show wages and salaries have risen 7.4% in the past year, compared with the 4.1% growth reported by the Commerce Department. By comparison, economists surveyed by MarketWatch are predicting a gain of 185,000 in nonfarm payrolls in Friday’s report from the BLS.

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Bloomberg:

Optimism among U.S. chief executive officers surpassed the highest level reached before the recession as more business leaders projected increased sales, investment and hiring, a survey showed.

The Business Roundtable’s economic outlook index increased to 113 in the first quarter, the highest point since records began in 2002, from 101 in the previous three months, the Washington-based group said today. Readings greater than 50 coincide with an economic expansion. The previous peak was 104 in the first three months of 2005.

“Companies have given strong signals about their willingness to expand,” Ivan G. Seidenberg, chairman of the Business Roundtable and chief executive officer of New York- based Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), said in a press conference. “As we keep a steady flow of capital investment, we’ll certainly see sales forecasts go up, and as we do that we’ll start to see hiring.”

None of the 142 CEOs surveyed said they expected a decline in sales in the next six months, and 92 percent projected an increase, paving the way for more hiring and investment in equipment. A gain in capital spending plans points to further strength in manufacturing, the industry that’s propelled the economic expansion.

//

“This data is pointing to a turnaround in labor-market conditions,” Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC in St. Louis, which produces the report in conjunction with ADP, said in a conference call with reporters. “It’s pretty clear that employment now has in fact accelerated. Equally encouraging is the breadth of the strength.”

Projections of the 34 economists polled by Bloomberg ranged from gains of 171,000 to 295,000.

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I know, it’s just a bone he gives to gays because he needs their money or something…

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal Moves Forward. Gay Men and Women Will Serve Openly This Year

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President Obama’s fascinating speech about America’s future energy security:

Thomas Friedman: “I am proud of my president, worried about him, and just praying that he’s lucky”

That’s a very good, sober and real piece from Friedman:

There is an old saying in the Middle East that a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee. That thought came to my mind as I listened to President Obama trying to explain the intervention of America and its allies in Libya — and I don’t say that as criticism. I say it with empathy. This is really hard stuff, and it’s just the beginning.

// snip

Welcome to the Middle East of 2011! You want the truth about it? You can’t handle the truth. The truth is that it’s a dangerous, violent, hope-filled and potentially hugely positive or explosive mess — fraught with moral and political ambiguities. We have to build democracy in the Middle East we’ve got, not the one we want — and this is the one we’ve got.

That’s why I am proud of my president, really worried about him, and just praying that he’s lucky.

Unlike all of us in the armchairs, the president had to choose, and I found the way he spelled out his core argument on Monday sincere: “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And, as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

I am glad we have a president who sees America that way. That argument cannot just be shrugged off, especially when confronting a dictator like Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. But, at the same time, I believe that it is naïve to think that we can be humanitarians only from the air — and now we just hand the situation off to NATO, as if it were Asean and we were not the backbone of the NATO military alliance, and we’re done.

I don’t know Libya, but my gut tells me that any kind of decent outcome there will require boots on the ground — either as military help for the rebels to oust Qaddafi as we want, or as post-Qaddafi peacekeepers and referees between tribes and factions to help with any transition to democracy. Those boots cannot be ours. We absolutely cannot afford it — whether in terms of money, manpower, energy or attention. But I am deeply dubious that our allies can or will handle it without us, either. And if the fight there turns ugly, or stalemates, people will be calling for our humanitarian help again. You bomb it, you own it.

Which is why, most of all, I hope President Obama is lucky. I hope Qaddafi’s regime collapses like a sand castle, that the Libyan opposition turns out to be decent and united and that they require just a bare minimum of international help to get on their feet. Then U.S. prestige will be enhanced and this humanitarian mission will have both saved lives and helped to lock another Arab state into the democratic camp.

Dear Lord, please make President Obama lucky.

Wednesday morning mishmash

Hi guys,

1. Today’s schedule:

10:00 AM PBO and VPB receive the presidential daily briefing.
11:00 AM  
11:15 AM VPB meets with Director of the OMB Jack Lew, Director of the NEC Gene Sperling, and senior advisers to discuss the budget
11:20 AM PBO delivers a speech on his plan for America’s energy security.
12:00 PM  
12:30 PM PBO and VPB meet for lunch.
1:00 PM Carney briefs the press.
2:00 PM  
3:00 PM  
4:00 PM  
4:25 PM PBO meets with senior advisers.
5:00 PM VPB meets with British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

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2. Recovery!

Private sector adds 201,000 jobs in March

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3. More selling out.

Obama to call for cut of oil imports by a third

President Obama will lay out a broad energy plan Wednesday aimed at cutting the country’s foreign oil imports by one-third over the next decade.

The plan comes amid increasing pressure to address high gas prices and concern about the country’s reliance on Middle Eastern and North African oil, particularly given the political unrest in the region

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4. One can only imagine the celebration we’s see from the previous administration after something like this:

Senior al-Qaida operative wanted over 2002 Bali nightclub bombings been arrested

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5. Perfecting the union:

Obama names 2 more Indo-Americans to key posts

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama , who already has over two dozen Indian Americans serving in top jobs in his administration, has named two more from the community, Deepa Gupta and Nisha Desai Biswal, to key posts.

While Gupta has been named as a member of National Council on the Arts, Biswal, currently Assistant Administrator for Asia at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will in addition serve on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

“I am grateful these accomplished men and women have agreed to join this Administration, and I’m confident they will serve ably in these important roles,” Obama said in naming Gupta and Biswal along with seven others. “I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.”

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“This is what we said we wanted just two years ago”

Josh Greenman, NY Daily News:

Beware the clarity trap: Obama makes effective, principled case for U.S. involvement in Libya

Just a few years ago, we had a President who valued clarity so dearly that he labeled three utterly different countries, presenting drastically different security problems, an “axis of evil.” Didn’t really make sense, but lumping them together was catchy and, at least as far as it went, clear.

So, yes, everyone knew precisely where George W. Bush stood. That’s a big part of why he beat John Kerry in 2004; the chronically cautious senator got tagged as impossibly indecisive.

Barack Obama isn’t an all-or-nothing kind of commander in chief or an all-or-nothing kind of man. He gambled in pushing health care reform, but in his bones he’s a cautious leader who overcomplicates where others oversimplify. He turns bumper stickers into dissertations, not the other way around.

Those who are grousing about that fact now should count their blessings – and remember the alternative. This is what we said we wanted just two years ago, after eight years of Bush foreign policy impulsiveness, when offered a McCain-Palin ticket that promised more gut-driven decision-making. We wanted more candid discussion of risks and benefits. More sharing of responsibilities with allies. We wanted a President to think twice before playing Braveheart. Didn’t we?

But now, in the first major test of a crisis rearing its head on his watch, many have derided Obama’s approach as the professor’s way of war. So the pundits were craving clarity Monday night when he took the stage at the National Defense University in Washington, clamoring for something like an Obama Doctrine, a few snappy sentences that encapsulate his foreign policy, a formula where you plug in the variables and get your answer each and every time.

It didn’t happen. It was never going to happen. Nor should it have happened.

In typically Obamastic fashion, he rejected the arguments of those who suggested we should have allowed a humanitarian disaster to unfold while the world watched (that would have “been a betrayal of who we are”), and similarly dismantled the arguments of those who want a more aggressive, expansive, expensive campaign.

Did America dither when it should have acted, as many neoconservatives have insisted? No; as Daniel Foster, a writer on the conservative National Review Online, acknowledged, “POTUS landed at least one clean punch on his critics” when he soundly rejected that claim and said: “In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians.”

To a skeptic like me, Obama made an effective and principled case.

But what about answering those broad questions to deliver that elusive “clarity” going forward? When will we as a nation lead, and when  will we support others? What, if anything, will we do in other countries where the fires are raging? Do we have a completely independent standard for intervention, or are future conflicts dependent in part on the convenience of military action and the approval of Europe and the Arab League?

The answers never came. And I for one couldn’t care less. Easy doctrines give us false comfort in an insanely complex world.

Disagree with the military action in Libya, by all means. I’m not sold. Our military is already overextended, and protesters are being suppressed from Yemen to Bahrain to Syria, which are all more critical to our national security. Congress wasn’t sufficiently consulted. We don’t know whether or how we’ll bring Moammar Khadafy down, and it’s possible we only postponed, rather than prevented, a slaughter. We know very little about the rebels, and apart from broadly lionizing the Libyan people, Obama shed no light Monday night on why they’re bound to be better than the devil we know.

This isn’t necessarily a brilliant war.

But don’t criticize the President because he’s failed some facile and arbitrary standard of perfect clarity. That would be, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, the hobgoblin of a nation that hasn’t learned its lesson.

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People walk past the Cloud Gate sculpture aka ‘The Bean’ as One Prudential Plaza towers is seen over the north end of Millennium Park on March 28, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The building will house President Obamas campaign headquarters for the 2012 presidential race.:

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“The ring of authenticity, a man speaking from the gut, speech full of genuine feeling”

 Hi guys,

1. Today’s schedule:

9:30 am

The President receives the Presidential Daily Briefing

1:00 pm

The President departs the White House en route Andrews Air Force Base
South Lawn

1:15 pm

The President departs Andrews Air Force Base en route New York, NY
Andrews Air Force Base

2:05 pm

The President arrives in New York, NY
John F. Kennedy International Airport

4:45 pm

The President delivers remarks at the dedication of the Ronald H. Brown United States Mission to the United Nations Building
USUN Building
Open Press

7:00 pm

The President delivers remarks at a DNC event
Red Rooster Restaurant

9:05 pm

The President delivers remarks at a DNC event
The Studio Museum
Pooled Press
10:10 pm

The President departs New York, NY
John F. Kennedy International Airport
Open Press
11:00 pm

The President arrives at Andrews Air Force Base
Andrews Air Force Base

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*

Few morning thoughts about that speech last night:

1. Dithering, shmithering. It took PBO 31 days to do what took Clinton and the world more than a year back in the ’90s. But hey, this is Barack Obama we’re talking about. Double standards is the standard.

2. Booman pointed that “He’s so good with words that his critics like to say that “he’s just words.” – which actually is the ultimate proof to how miserably most people fail to understand the greatness if this man. His speeches are some of the greatest in history, yet his actions are even greater.  And that’s what really kills the haters. They just can’t catch him.

3. It’s obvious on the Right, but it’s more astounding when it comes to Left. The reason they’re simply against anything this man does is not because – as they disingenuously claim – he doesn’t keeps his promises. It’s because *he does*. It’s because they realize that either they never really listen to him during the campaign, or they did listen and were certain that once he’s in the WH, they will make him bend to them. And he just refuse to do so.

Maybe it’s just me, but I saw a real disdain on his face when he kicked some PL butts last night.

4. That noise you heard all night? That was Wingnuts heads explodes. He just buried the Bush-ism once and for all.

5. Who would have thought, 3 years ago, that the United Nations will be cool again?

6. Best tweet I’ve seen last night: “This is not the Nobel Pacifism Prize, it’s the Nobel PEACE Prize. Saving lives and taking down dictators is worth the prize”.

7. While I understand why the political team doesn’t want to over-expose him, I honestly believe that it’s a mistake not to send PBO out there much more often. Whenever he speaks directly to the people, they can suddenly see how smart he is and how much sense he makes. How sincere and human and full of goodness this man is. In each and every speech he expose his critics for what they really are, and I wish he would make more of these.

8. Finally, you guys are awesome. Really enjoyed the party here last night.

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Here’s as actual intelligent conversation between Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell last night.

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Jonathan Capehart

Obama makes a convincing case for action in Libya

For a man who didn’t want to elevate U.S. actions in Libya to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by delivering an Oval Office address, President Obama just delivered a speech worthy of the venue. Did it answer all of the questions asked by members of Congress on the right and the left, particularly the one about what victory would look like? Um, no. But Obama did state clearly why the United States stepped in to corral an international coalition and why it must relinquish its customary lead role.

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Joan Cole:

….

Despite the close and elegant moral reasoning tempered by a steady pragmatism, the speech was full of genuine feeling, including empathy and outrage. It strikes me as among the better speeches President Obama has given since taking office.

// much more and terrific

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Peter Beinart:

…..

Obama’s is a different version of American exceptionalism. For men like John Bolton, American virtue is a given. American presidents should never apologize because America never has anything to apologize for. Our mistakes are never crimes, and if others don’t see our moral greatness that just proves their moral cynicism.

Obama, by contrast, because he can see America through post-colonial eyes, knows this is a fable. He knows that in many places on earth, America has abetted dictatorship and corruption and slaughter. In some cases he has apologized, which has led men like Bolton to claim that he sees America as no different from any other great power.

But they don’t get it. For Obama, American exceptionalism is not a fact; it is a struggle. Bolton and company like to invoke World War II and the Cold War because in those conflicts we fought the evil that lay out there. Obama, by contrast, often invokes the civil-rights movement: a struggle against the evil within. That’s what makes his Libya decision powerful. He knows that there are good reasons for Middle Easterners to fear when they see American planes overhead. And yet he is acting to show that it does not have to be that way.

I don’t know how Obama’s Libya intervention will end; in his speech, he made it seem tidier than it really is. But the speech had something notably absent from his addresses on Afghanistan: the ring of authenticity. When he said that he refused to sit by and watch Benghazi be raped, he sounded like a man speaking from the gut. Obama does not romanticize the history of American power and yet he is wielding American power. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Kate Seelye

Obama Wins Arab Respect

It’s one of those twists of irony that the U.S.-backed no-fly zone over Libya has more support in the Arab world than in the U.S. Congress. I’m not sure if Obama’s eloquent defense of the American military mission in Libya during his address to the nation Monday night convinced a skeptical Congress of its value, but his speech certainly articulated an American role that many Arabs embrace.

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 Almost there!

Mark Ambinder: President Obama is fewer than three weeks away from formally announcing his reelection campaign

President Obama is fewer than three weeks away from formally announcing his reelection campaign, and will make it public with an online video his aides will post on his new campaign website, Democratic sources familiar with the plans said.

Obama’s team will try to keep the exact date and time a surprise, letting supporters know first by text message and e-mail. By that point, Obama would have opened his campaign account with the Federal Election Commission.

But a major Democratic National Committee fundraiser is set for April 14 in Chicago, and Democratic donors are being told that it will coincide with the announcement. Obama will attend the event.

// more and very interesting.

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Finally, this is hilarious:

Speech open thread #2: No pundits allowed in

This one for those who really don’t want to hear what the empty talking heads has to say.

Good evening. Tonight, I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya – what we have done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.

I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved. Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda around the globe. As Commander-in-Chief, I am grateful to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and their families, as are all Americans.

For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That is what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.

Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt – two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant – Moammar Gaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world – including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.

Last month, Gaddafi’s grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. As one Libyan said, “For the first time we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over.”

Faced with this opposition, Gaddafi began attacking his people. As President, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our Embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance. We then took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer Gaddafi’s aggression. We froze more than $33 billion of the Gaddafi regime’s assets. Joining with other nations at the United Nations Security Council, we broadened our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo, and enabled Gaddafi and those around him to be held accountable for their crimes. I made it clear that Gaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.

In the face of the world’s condemnation, Gaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. The water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misratah was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assault from the air.

Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition, and the Arab League, appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. At my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass an historic Resolution that authorized a No Fly Zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.

Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Gaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.

At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Gaddafi declared that he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we had seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now, we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of Charlotte – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.

It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973. We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Gaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit his air defenses, which paved the way for a No Fly Zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gaddafi’s deadly advance.

In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies – nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey – all of whom have fought by our side for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibility to defend the Libyan people.

To summarize, then: in just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a No Fly Zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians.

Moreover, we have accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation, and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.

Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and No Fly Zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the No Fly Zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gaddafi’s remaining forces. In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role – including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation – to our military, and to American taxpayers – will be reduced significantly.

So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: the United States of America has done what we said we would do.

That is not to say that our work is complete. In addition to our NATO responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of Libya, who need food for the hungry and medical care for the wounded. We will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the Gaddafi regime so that it is available to rebuild Libya. After all, this money does not belong to Gaddafi or to us – it belongs to the Libyan people, and we will make sure they receive it.

Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will go to London, where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than thirty nations. These discussions will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure Gaddafi, while also supporting a transition to the future that the Libyan people deserve. Because while our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.

Despite the success of our efforts over the past week, I know that some Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya. Gaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous. Moreover, even after Gaddafi does leave power, forty years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions. The transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people will be a difficult task. And while the United States will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community, and – more importantly – a task for the Libyan people themselves.

In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all – even in limited ways – in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing concerns here at home.

It is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country – Libya; at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Gaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

Moreover, America has an important strategic interest in preventing Gaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful – yet fragile – transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the UN Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling its future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.

Now, just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Gaddafi and usher in a new government.

Of course, there is no question that Libya – and the world – will be better off with Gaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.

The task that I assigned our forces – to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a No Fly Zone – carries with it a UN mandate and international support. It is also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Gaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.

As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do – and will do – is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners as they’re in the lead to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supply of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gaddafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Gaddafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Gadaffi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on his side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.

Let me close by addressing what this action says about the use of America’s military power, and America’s broader leadership in the world, under my presidency.

As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I have made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies, and our core interests. That is why we are going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country.

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security – responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us, and they are problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

In such cases, we should not be afraid to act – but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize 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 all of the burden ourselves. 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. Of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks of any military action will be high. Those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over Libya. Yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States – in a region that has such a difficult history with our country – this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to these men who are protecting the skies.”

This voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer. Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time. Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently in different countries. There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes. And 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 addressed.

The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. 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 citizens; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.

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.

My fellow Americans, I know that at a time of upheaval overseas – when the news is filled with conflict and change – it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I have said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength at home. That must always be our North Star – the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring of our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.

But let us also remember that for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer and brighter if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity. Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward; and let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Speech open thread #1

Enjoy, guys. Play nice.

Good evening. Tonight, I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya – what we have done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.

I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved. Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda around the globe. As Commander-in-Chief, I am grateful to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and their families, as are all Americans.

For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That is what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.

Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt – two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant – Moammar Gaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world – including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.

Last month, Gaddafi’s grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. As one Libyan said, “For the first time we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over.”

Faced with this opposition, Gaddafi began attacking his people. As President, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our Embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance. We then took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer Gaddafi’s aggression. We froze more than $33 billion of the Gaddafi regime’s assets. Joining with other nations at the United Nations Security Council, we broadened our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo, and enabled Gaddafi and those around him to be held accountable for their crimes. I made it clear that Gaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.

In the face of the world’s condemnation, Gaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. The water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misratah was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assault from the air.

Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition, and the Arab League, appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. At my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass an historic Resolution that authorized a No Fly Zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.

Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Gaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.

At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Gaddafi declared that he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we had seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now, we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of Charlotte – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.

It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973. We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Gaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit his air defenses, which paved the way for a No Fly Zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gaddafi’s deadly advance.

In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies – nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey – all of whom have fought by our side for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibility to defend the Libyan people.

To summarize, then: in just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a No Fly Zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians.

Moreover, we have accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation, and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.

Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and No Fly Zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the No Fly Zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gaddafi’s remaining forces. In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role – including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation – to our military, and to American taxpayers – will be reduced significantly.

So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: the United States of America has done what we said we would do.

That is not to say that our work is complete. In addition to our NATO responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of Libya, who need food for the hungry and medical care for the wounded. We will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the Gaddafi regime so that it is available to rebuild Libya. After all, this money does not belong to Gaddafi or to us – it belongs to the Libyan people, and we will make sure they receive it.

Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will go to London, where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than thirty nations. These discussions will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure Gaddafi, while also supporting a transition to the future that the Libyan people deserve. Because while our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.

Despite the success of our efforts over the past week, I know that some Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya. Gaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous. Moreover, even after Gaddafi does leave power, forty years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions. The transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people will be a difficult task. And while the United States will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community, and – more importantly – a task for the Libyan people themselves.

In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all – even in limited ways – in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing concerns here at home.

It is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country – Libya; at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Gaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

Moreover, America has an important strategic interest in preventing Gaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful – yet fragile – transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the UN Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling its future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.

Now, just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Gaddafi and usher in a new government.

Of course, there is no question that Libya – and the world – will be better off with Gaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.

The task that I assigned our forces – to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a No Fly Zone – carries with it a UN mandate and international support. It is also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Gaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.

As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do – and will do – is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners as they’re in the lead to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supply of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gaddafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Gaddafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Gadaffi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on his side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.

Let me close by addressing what this action says about the use of America’s military power, and America’s broader leadership in the world, under my presidency.

As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I have made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies, and our core interests. That is why we are going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country.

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security – responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us, and they are problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

In such cases, we should not be afraid to act – but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize 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 all of the burden ourselves. 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. Of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks of any military action will be high. Those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over Libya. Yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States – in a region that has such a difficult history with our country – this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to these men who are protecting the skies.”

This voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer. Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time. Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently in different countries. There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes. And 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 addressed.

The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. 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 citizens; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.

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.

My fellow Americans, I know that at a time of upheaval overseas – when the news is filled with conflict and change – it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I have said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength at home. That must always be our North Star – the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring of our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.

But let us also remember that for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer and brighter if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity. Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward; and let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.