President Barack Obama wants the “Arab spring” to bloom.

And that means having choice. The United States supports “the right to choose your own leaders — whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran,” he said in a much awaited Middle East speech.

For Syria: “President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way.”

In Libya, Obama didn’t think leader Muammar Gaddafi would be left with much choice. “When Gaddafi inevitably leaves or is forced from power, decades of provocation will come to an end, and the transition to a democratic Libya can proceed.”

On Israeli-Palestinian peace (something many U.S. presidents before him have tried to broker) the choice was left up to them. “Ultimately, it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action.” And Obama saying any future deal should be based on Israel’s 1967 borders drew a swift Israeli retort that this was no choice at all.

Across the entire region, Obama said, was “a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future. It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by the people…”