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Barack Obama’s reality check

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WASHINGTON — If President Obama ever was a foreign policy idealist, he’s not one now. The address he delivered Tuesday at the United Nations amounted to a realist manifesto for defending U.S. “core interests” — using force, when necessary — without trying to impose American values on unready or unwilling societies.

The speech laid out an Obama Doctrine for confronting a rapidly changing world full of dangers new and old. “I believe America is exceptional,” the president said, citing the nation’s historic willingness to offer “the sacrifice of blood and treasure ... for the interest of all.” But his updated vision of U.S. leadership, although sweetly phrased, was tightly focused and unsentimental.

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