World Policy Can Wait a While, Obama

For a while, inaction may be the best course
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2008 7:30 PM CST
Opposition supporters hold posters showing a portrait of President-elect Barack Obama, reading "America We Believe In," at a protest rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008.   (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
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(Newser) – From Iran to Venezuela, President-elect Obama's best foreign policy option is to lie low for now, John Barry writes in Newsweek. Sudden forays into tricky hotspots—think Bay of Pigs, or President Bush's North Korea missteps—can prove costly, and most of the world's problems need a breather anyway. In Iraq and Israel, for example, no headway can be expected until next year's elections.

Iran needs months of diplomacy before any possible talks, and Pakistan requires more quiet support for its surprisingly effective civilian government. Talks with the Taliban are useless until US troops get an upper hand, while patient stitch-work could weave a North Korea nuclear deal. So what can Obama do on day one? He can start by clearing out Guantanamo and shutting it down—if he can figure out what to do with the prisoners.