Mounting foreign policy challenges for Obama

English.news.cn   2010-11-24 14:34:09 FeedbackPrintRSS

by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has his hands full.

Just after campaigning heavily for Democrats in the run-up to the midterm elections, in which his party took a beating, a slew of foreign policy problems are piling up.

Indeed, the president is juggling a myriad of issues from one end of the globe to the other. None is going very smoothly, which begs the question of whether his credibility on the international stage will be harmed.

Moreover, his increasing weakness at home after the midterm elections elicits the question of whether he will turn more attention toward matters overseas, some experts said.

Recent weeks have seen the possible derailment of the START treaty -- an agreement on nukes between the United States and Russia. Over the weekend, the deadline for Afghan troops to take over security from U.S. forces was extended to 2014, as there are many questions about Afghan forces' readiness. The Middle East peace talks brokered by Washington have stalled, and Tuesday saw a skirmish between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea. That could put the U.S. president in a foreign policy bind, as 25,000 U.S. troops are stationed in the latter country.

"The fact that they've all come at the same time is a challenge," said Dan Mahaffee, special assistant to the president at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. "(Obama) has faced a very compressed foreign policy calendar."

The administration has had to respond to so many challenges so rapidly that it has not been able to prepare the strategic groundwork for many issues, he said.

While the potential for damage may not be immediate, having so many difficulties in so many areas could pose concerns for Washington's long term leverage.

"At a time when there is a growing narrative of American decline, the danger is that these foreign policy setbacks accelerate that narrative," he said.

Could that hurt the United States in any tangible sense?

Perhaps, as it shatters the perception of the United States as the sole superpower and poses the question of whether the U.S. president still holds the same global leadership position, he said.

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Editor: Wang Guanqun
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