Are the latest violent disturbances in Northern Ireland a serious threat to the decade-long peace process? Not necessarily, but the flags issue is a distraction from deeper underlying social problems; such as poverty and entrenched sectarianism.
As French troops continue to engage Islamist rebels in Mali, questions are being raised over how long they will stay, and the real commitment of the president to ending France's long history of interventionism on the continent.
After some disappointment in Obama's first term, there is a moment of optimism for transatlantic relations. Washington and Brussels should capitalise on this moment, and work to ensure closer co-operation in pursuit of their strategic objectives in President Obama's second term.