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Intresting article in my opinion.
Who will cause Obama's first 3 a.m. call?
Updated Sat. Nov. 29 2008 12:35 PM ET
"Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking."
This ominous warning was not issued by President-elect Obama's campaign adversary John McCain or any of his surrogates. It came from Joe Biden, Obama's running mate and the nation's next vice president - merely two weeks before Obama's election victory.
Indeed, throughout his two-year campaign for the most powerful office in the world, Obama's lack of executive experience was almost always Topic No. 1. And his virtual blank slate pertaining to foreign policy produced more attack lines by his opponents than anything else.
During the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton made much hay when she unleashed the famed "3 a.m. call" television ad questioning whether a nation at war could risk electing someone so green as its leader. She made dramatic gains following the ad's unveiling, taking Obama to the wire in a spirited intra-party fight.
With an electorate more concerned about the current financial crisis and other more worrisome domestic issues, Obama beat McCain comfortably to win the election. But the world's bad actors and flash points will not simply go away. Fortunately for him, some of the potential problems will remain more long-term and less urgent, such as China, India and Brazil; while others, such as Venezuela, Cuba and Africa, will not be strategically pressing enough to warrant emergency actions.
So just who'll be responsible for Obama's first 3 a.m. phone call at the White House? After careful consideration, here are five top suspects:
"I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls."
That, allegedly, was the promise Russian premier Vladimir Putin made to French president Nicolas Sarkozy during last summer's 10-day conflict between Russia and the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia. The clash over Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia took the world by surprise, and forced two stunned presidential campaigns to respond accordingly.
Obama's response - coupled with the unfortunate timing of a Hawaiian vacation during the conflict - struck a brief blow to Obama's presidential bid, perhaps forcing him to select a vice presidential running mate with foreign policy bona fides. In stepped Senator Joe Biden.
But will President-elect Obama have another Russian crisis to handle? There's no guarantee, but Moscow has made it abundantly clear that it won't tolerate western encroachment in the federation's immediate sphere of influence, or the 'Near Abroad.' Russian-Georgian relations remain strained and volatile, while Moscow's recent threat to deploy missiles on the European border sent nations like Lithuania and Poland scrambling for the west's intervention.
Moscow is unlikely to antagonize any NATO-aligned nations, but the same can't be said for Georgia, Ukraine and Eurasian countries such as Azerbaijan. With Europe increasingly dependent on Russia to keep the lights on, would President Obama be left alone to defend these besieged states?
4. Al Qaeda
John McCain said he knew "how to get Bin Laden," but it's up to Obama, the winner of the presidential election, to capture the terrorist who's been on top of the U.S.'s most-wanted list ever since he masterminded the 9/11 attacks.
While there are indications that Osama Bin Laden might be isolated somewhere on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions, his organization has hardly been snuffed out during the ongoing seven-year War on Terror.
In fact, there are reasons to believe that as an organization, al-Qaeda has extended its reach even if some of its operational and fundraising capabilities have been compromised. After being chased out of Sudan in the late 1990s, al-Qaeda has returned to Africa - taking advantage of the presence of the numerous failed states there. Its network on the continent now stretches from the Horn of Africa on the Somali coast, up to Algeria and all the way to the northwestern shore in Morocco.
There is also concern that al-Qaeda has evolved from a just a terrorist organization with a single purpose to a sophisticated non-state actor with a far-reaching agenda. Its attacks have always been about more than just death and destruction.
Al-Qaeda came perilously close to pulling off another audacious attack in 2006, when it was foiled in attempting to blow up as many as 10 U.S. and Canadian airliners over the Atlantic. With the "Bush Doctrine" on the wane and a certain new direction to be implemented by the Obama Administration, would al-Qaeda choose to seize the initiative and dictate its own terms?
For more analysis, click on RealClearPolitics
3. North Korea
Is Kim Jong-il alive? Or, the better question is, will the regime be even more menacing if he's incapacitated or dead?
Of all of the U.S.'s adversaries, none is more unpredictable than North Korea because there is just so little information available. Add to the fact that North Korea potentially has nuclear weapon capabilities, the danger posed by this rogue regime cannot be understated.
While Kim's fate is uncertain, the regime has not ceased its intransigent behavior that dated as far back as the Korean War. The latest is the regime's unilateral announcement that it's closing its border with South Korea. With South Korean president Lee Myung-bak taking a harder line, the North is perhaps spoiling for a new confrontation.
More ominously, the regime also declared that inspection of its nuclear program could not go beyond the Yongbyon facility and the inspectors could not leave with samples from Yongbyon for testing. That declaration was in breach of a deal brokered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that resulted in North Korea's removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
If Kim does not resurface, the regime apparently would be run by a military junta similar to the one that's in power in Burma - only more diabolical and perhaps with nukes to boot. Will they decide to simply carry on with their usual assortment of blackmail tactics, or set the world on fire?
The United States and Iran have quietly - and sometimes vociferously - been somewhere between peace and war for nearly 30 years. Since the revolutionary regime's takeover of the American embassy in the fall of 1979, relations between the two nations have been at a cold standstill. Throughout the 1980s, the U.S. funded and aided the Arab sheikdoms surrounding the Islamic republic, and assisted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in his long and bloody bid to seize the oil-rich, Arab province of Khuzestan from the Iranians.
While U.S. and Iran never officially engaged in direct warfare during that decade, the two countries did tangle in a quiet naval tit-for-tat in the spring of 1988 known as Operation Praying Mantis.
Not much has changed since then, and Iran's asymmetric naval capabilities have only adapted and matured since that brief engagement. If Iran were brazen and bold enough to grab control of the world's energy spigot, it would likely involve a naval engagement over the Strait of Hormuz.
The potential for conflict isn't excluded to the seas, either. With America's presence in Iraq appearing to be certain for at least the next three years, the risk of cross border engagement between Iranian proxies and U.S. forces will only become more likely. Tehran's proxy outfits - such as Hezbollah - are within striking distance of western embassies and offices all throughout the Middle East. Any action against the Iranians will likely involve reprisals elsewhere. An Obama response to Iranian mischief could require the safeguarding of Israel, the GCC states and all of the region's energy pipelines.
President-elect Obama has proposed unconditional negotiations between Tehran and Washington to resolve the abundant differences between both nations. But if the republic forces Obama's hand, how might he respond?
The U.S.'s war in Afghanistan, launched weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has come full circle. While the Taliban regime had been deposed and al-Qaeda forced on the run, the prosecution of the war has not brought about stability to the region.
In fact, it has escalated over the past few months, and it's poised to spill over on a grand scale to neighboring Pakistan, whose standing as an U.S. ally has frequently come into question, particularly after the ouster of former strongman president Pervez Musharraf.
President-elect Obama broached the possibility of launching attacks inside Pakistan's borders without that country's authorization in a 2007 speech - something that's since been carried out routinely in the form of missile strikes and commando incursions by the Bush Administration. So far, Pakistan's fragile government has done little other than lodging toothless protests.
President Asif Ali Zardari indeed has much larger problems on his hands than occasional violation of his country's sovereignty by the Americans. Pakistan is broke and just reached an agreement with the IMF for a $7.6 billion emergency loan. Its porous northwest borders are out of reach for its overstretched military and a hotbed for al-Qaeda and a reconstituted Taliban. And a large part of its Muslim population resents the U.S. presence in the region and the growing clout of archenemy India.
In September, the Marriott Hotel in the heart of capital Islamabad was bombed by home-grown terrorists, raising more concerns about the nation's stability. Should Zardari's government collapse and be swallowed up by an Islamist uprising, the entire sub-continent may be consumed by instant conflagration. With both Pakistan and India in possession of nuclear weapons, this will be a 3 a.m. call that President-elect Obama dearly wishes to avoid.
Intresting article in my opinion.