With American unilateralism ebbing, Western nations and the rising BRICS countries are still finding their way to a new geopolitical balance – and Arab Spring nations like Syria are caught in the middle.
The general reaction in Europe is guarded optimism as rebels have moved quickly into Tripoli. The UK and France were driving forces behind the NATO intervention in Libya.
In order to sustain operations, experts say France and Britain need to forge a broader European consensus on Libya intervention.
Libya may have been less a precedent than a case study in the president's blend of pragmatism and idealism.
The notion of humanitarian intervention went dormant after the Iraq war, but has now returned, championed by many of the same countries that were the greatest opponents of invading Baghdad.
As the US moves to transfer command of Libya operations to Western allies, Europe is grappling with who should take the lead to enforce UN Resolution 1973.
Amid budget cutbacks and a 'diminishing appetite' for war, Europe has turned increasingly to the 'soft power' assignments like training and institution-building.
The Iran nuclear fuel swap was brokered by Turkey and Brazil. Even if it falls through, it indicates that countries like the US can no longer expect quiet compliance from rising powers.
The host of the Munich security conference, which opens today, says Europe must step up and help its main ally, the US, and tackle pressing global security needs like Afghanistan and Iran.
Less ideological than Bush, Barack Obama pursues a more traditional approach to foreign affairs, marked by a narrower definition of US interests.