LONDON -- Offering reassurance and resolve, President Barack Obama stood in the historic grandeur of Westminster Hall and served notice to England and the world that the growing influence of countries like China, India and Brazil in no way dictates a diminished global role for America and its European allies.
"The time for our leadership is now," Obama declared to members of Parliament, who for the first time gave an American president the honor of addressing them from the 900-year-old hall where great and gruesome moments in British history have played out.
"If we fail to meet that responsibility, who would take our place, and what kind of world would we pass on?" the president asked.
Tracing an arc from the allied soldiers who fought on the beaches of Normandy to the NATO-backed rebels now fighting in Benghazi, Libya, Obama argued that only the Western allies have the might and fortitude to promote and defend democracy around the globe.
Obama's message that U.S. and Europe remain vital on the world stage is one he is sure to carry with him as he heads next to Deauville, France, for a two-day summit of the world's top industrial nations. In addition to pressing economic matters, leaders will focus there, too, on how to support democracy in the Middle East and North Africa in a time of upheaval and economic strains.