President Obama wants to concentrate his time in 2011 on job creation and economic expansion at home. But an extraordinary array of challenges abroad may keep his phone ringing during the wee hours of the night.
The explosion of pro-democracy forces in Tunisia, and the dramatic turn of events in Egypt has changed the political landscape in the Arab world and set a-jangle the nerves of tyrants and dictators from Algeria to Libya, Syria to Yemen, and even the Muslim north of Sudan. Nobody can be sure of the outcome, how it will affect the lives of millions of Muslims, the peace process with Israel, or the strategic interests of the United States.
Dramatic reactionNobody could have anticipated such a speedily dramatic reaction to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's prescient warning in Qatar earlier this month that Arab states risked "sinking into the sand" if they did not clean up corruption and quicken their glacial pace of political and economic reform. Now the Obama administration must wrestle with cataclysmic changes of a pace it may not have foreseen, balancing the desire for the advance of democratic principles against concern lest the forces of Islamist extremism prosper.