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Obama's Foreign Policy: Bridging the Expectations-Capability Gap


Barack Obama's first year should appear disappointing only to persons blind to the constraints imposed by the Bush legacy, the still reeling world economy, an intimidating agenda of domestic problems, a polarised domestic politics, and at least temporarily intractable opponents of the President's undoubted ambitions to tame the Middle East and promote cooperation among the leading states without jettisoning a commitment to liberal values. By ordering an end to torture and moving to close Guantanamo, he has signalled the restoration of moral restraint on the exercise of American power and implicitly expressed belief in the efficacy of soft power assets. Additionally, he has attempted to create political space for change by pushing the conventional limits of American presidential discourse. A decent start, but the hard part lies ahead.