Collapsing Nations Threaten to Be Obama's First Crisis

Imploding world economies would demand tough foreign policy choices
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2008 3:10 PM CST
Egyptian activists are surrounded by anti-riot soldiers during an anti-government demonstration in Cairo this year.    (AP Photo/Hossam Ali)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama's first major foreign policy crisis threatens to be no less that the complete collapse of a large and unstable nation, Marc Ambinder writes in the Atlantic. The transition team has so far been silent—in public, anyway—on the prospect, but there are indications they are convinced the world economy could get much worse, possibly pushing Pakistan, Egypt, or many others over the edge.

America won't have the resources to come to the rescue the way it did in 1997's Asian financial crisis, Ambinder writes, meaning the Obama administration could face one of the toughest foreign policy questions possible in its early days: "Which countries can we afford to let fail?"