Obama's return a test of evolving foreign policy
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Phrases to describe some of the looming foreign policy challenges for President Barack Obama didn't even exist when he took the oath of office the first time: the Arab Spring, the Fordo Facility housing Iran's underground uranium enrichment labs, the stealth power of new viruses bearing names such as Stuxnet and Flame in the shadow world of cyber-sabotage.
But that also doesn't mean the list of earlier conflicts, stalemates and crises — inherited by Obama in his first term and, in some cases, reaching back decades — is any shorter for the White House.
The global financial downturn hangs on stubbornly in a 21st century matrix that binds, to varying degrees, all major economies into a shared economic destiny. The U.S. combat role in Afghanistan is winding down as the Iraq mission before it, but U.S. policymakers face perhaps even more complex diplomacy and deal-making ahead in Kabul. Meanwhile, other flashpoints linked to al-Qaida and Islamist extremists such as Mali and Nigeria could rise on the U.S. agenda. And, as always, showdowns that span generations — including Cuba and the Israel-Palestinian impasse — hold a spot on Washington's radar.
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