Tales from the Trail

Obama defends Libya policy during hectic New York day

March 30, 2011

President Barack Obama followed up his speech to the nation defending his Libya policy on Monday night with a whirlwind visit to New York City. He explained the policy in three network news  interviews  (ABC, NBC, CBS)  — at the city’s famed Museum of Natural History.

Then he made a quick visit to a kids’ science fair, joking to the high school students that they are smarter than he is, before dedicating the new Ronald H. Brown U.S. Mission to the United Nations building.bill_barack

There his Libya strategy was applauded by a roomful of diplomats and endorsed by a Democratic predecessor, ex-President Bill Clinton, the husband of his secretary of state.

“I had to apologize to President Clinton before we walked out because he never sees his wife,” Obama joked as he began his remarks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was flying back from her latest overseas mission — a quick trip to London for an international  conference  on Libya.

Bill Clinton got big applause at the dedication of the new U.S. Mission to the UN when he said Brown, who was his commerce secretary and died in a plane crash while traveling to the Balkans, would have approved of the action in Libya.

“He would be very proud that Barack Obama became president of the United States, and very proud of you, Mr. President, for what you are doing in Libya, with the international community.”

Mohammed Albdel-Rahman Shalgam, who was Libya’s UN ambassador until he spoke out against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and all of the ambassadors from UN  Security Council member countries were in the audience.unmission

“What we’ve learned from bitter experience — from the wars that were not prevented, the innocent lives that were not saved — is that all that’s necessary for evil to triumph is that good people and responsible nations stand by and do nothing,” Obama said in his remarks. “There are times — as when President Clinton showed extraordinary leadership in the Balkans, and moments such as now in the situation in Libya — where our conscience and our common interests compel us to act.”

Obama later spoke at a Democratic party fund-raiser, that raised $1.5 million from donors who had spent $30,800 a plate to attend. And he was later still to meet with Democratic activists at a Manhattan museum before returning to Washington.

Photo Credits: REUTERS/Jim Young (Clinton, Obama at US Mission to UN); (Obama greets students at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair at the American Museum of Natural History)

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