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Stalled Out All Over the World

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
November 2, 2009
The Daily Beast


Despite America's best efforts, President Hamid Karzai is the declared winner after the runoff election was canceled Monday, leaving little hope for a legitimate government in Afghanistan. Now what?

Despite Washington's pressures, Israeli and Palestinian leaders can't agree on terms to resume negotiations. Now what?

Despite reasonable negotiating efforts by the Obama administration, Iran rejects the very fair idea of sending most of its uranium abroad to be turned into medical research chips for Iran. Now what?

And President Obama can hardly forget about an Iraq where the country seems headed again toward civil war, as U.S. troops continue their withdrawal as mandated by the Iraqis. Now what?

Barack Obama has arrived at a terrible moment of truth in foreign policy. He has done little to make these four crises less critical. Americans knew that electing Obama, a man without any real experience in foreign affairs, was a risk. But the widespread feeling was that he couldn't do worse than George W. Bush, who had bequeathed him all these miserable situations. Well, he hasn't done worse than Bush, but he hasn't accomplished much either. And now we will see whether he and his team can pull themselves together and fashion a strategy that allows the United States to head off or, at least, better roll with the inevitable international punches-until conditions ripen for the effective application of American power.


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