By Joby Warrick, Karen DeYoung and Anne Gearan
The Washington Post
Even before his election victory is officially certified, President Obama faces a gantlet of foreign policy challenges that will test his administration while it seeks to focus attention on the economy and a looming budget showdown with Congress.
Administration officials and policy analysts say Obama will almost certainly be compelled to act before Inauguration Day to deal with crises flaring across the Middle East, from Syria’s 20-month-old civil war to the escalating nuclear standoff with Iran.
At the same time, the administration must navigate a dangerous, logistically complex military drawdown in Afghanistan while dealing with a succession of political and financial storms sweeping Europe, Africa and Asia.
Obama faces an uncertain landscape in the Middle East, where the United States is seeking to reinvent its relationships with Arab stalwart Egypt and revolutionary protege Libya, even as the upheaval of the Arab Spring revolutions continues. At the same time, the White House confronts a newly assertive, nuclear-armed North Korea and increasingly suspicious, nationalistic governments in Moscow and Beijing.
The stew of foreign policy problems facing the second Obama administration is as vexing as any faced by a White House in recent memory — a mix of “migraine headaches and root canals,” said Aaron David Miller, a State Department adviser to Democratic and Republican administrations. For the president, he said, there are few easy choices, recognizable opportunities or even obvious legacy issues.
“All of this is occurring against the backdrop of real concerns about the global economy and America’s own debt bomb,” said Miller, a vice president and Middle East policy scholar at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. “And on top of it all is a U.S. public exhausted by costly wars and a diminished American street credibility around the world.”