Barack Obama’s election has dramatically improved America’s image overseas, but the new President is likely to have to sacrifice international goodwill in order to obtain objectives he considers important.
Expectations are unrealistically high, and the style of American political leadership will change more than the substance – yet the inauguration of Barack Obama as America’s first black president is hugely significant, and the very problems he is inheriting could enhance his chances for success, and perhaps even for greatness.
Barack Obama’s appointment of an intelligence outsider as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency signals a break with Bush-era intelligence policy. If the Obama administration allows intelligence to rank low on their list of priorities, however, they risk neglecting the acute threat that terrorism and traditional espionage pose to the US today.
There are unlikely to be early and major changes to US plans for Missile Defence under an Obama Administration. But as the Russians plan to install missiles in a possible response to the initiative, debates on the controversial European ‘Third Site’ segment of the US defensive shield could well intensify.
US policy towards Pakistan is inextricably tied up with its activities in Afghanistan, and Obama cannot afford to ignore it. If he is to have any hope of mending the US’s troubled relationship with the state, a fundamental reassessment of the situation is essential.
There is an outstanding invitation from President George W. Bush Jr. to the United Kingdom, and other allies, to join the United States in a Global Ballistic Missile System. So far, Tony Blair has made no response, or at least, if he has, the nature of the response has not been made public. Many believe that, if there has been a response, it is along the lines of: "Ask me again after the election...