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Power, Leadership and US Foreign Policy


The Obama administration is attempting to 'lead from behind' in Libya, causing much concern among its allies and derision among its adversaries. Nevertheless this strategy represents an appropriate response both to the specific situation in Libya and to the wider constraints on American global leadership. With the shift in global resources from North to South and West to East, collective action has become more difficult to organise and global institutions have become harder to reinforce. Meanwhile governments in the United States and elsewhere must wrestle to bring their fiscal accounts back under control. A cooperative approach is the only answer. The difficulty for the Obama administration is that by emphasizing cooperation they make the success of their Libya intervention depend upon the actions of the other countries involved. Should France and Great Britain fail in Libya, President Obama's new conception of American global leadership will falter as well.