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President Obama: US Ready to Lead


Presidential inaugurations traditionally are a time for celebration. But over the years, some of the most memorable inaugural addresses have been delivered by presidents taking office during a time of crisis. In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama became the new voice for American diplomacy, vowing resolve and a revival of leadership.


President Obama comes to this moment unlike any U.S. president before him. He spent four years as a boy in Indonesia. His father was from Kenya.

In his first speech in office, Mr. Obama addressed the crowd but also people around the world. He said change is coming for them too. "To all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more."

As President Bush watched, Mr. Obama said the U.S. will lead by example and will not sacrifice its ideals for safety. He reached out to the Muslim world, seeking mutual respect.

On Iraq, Mr. Obama said the U.S. will begin to leave that country and also work for peace in Afghanistan.

He lectured dictators who oppress their people. "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

President Obama was tough on those who seek to spread terror. "We say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us and we will defeat you."

For the developing world, he pledged US support. "To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow, to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds."

President Obama is scheduled to meet with his national security team Wednesday to discuss a gradual pullout of combat troops from Iraq and the plan to nearly double the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

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