As President Obama begins his fourth week in the White House, foreign rivals and erstwhile allies already have begun to challenge U.S. interests abroad.
On Friday, Pakistan – the recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. aid – released from house arrest Abdul Qadeer Khan, the nuclear scientist who for two decades ran a black market that sold nuclear-weapons technology to U.S. adversaries including Iran and Libya.
By Eli Lake
The Washington Times
Two days earlier, Kyrgyzstan announced that it would not renew a U.S. lease at the Manas air base, a critical transshipment point in the Afghanistan war. Meanwhile, the Russians – who offered Kyrgyzstan $2 billion in cash and loans to oust the Americans – said that they intend to establish a new base in a breakaway enclave of Georgia, the country Moscow invaded over the summer in response to a Georgian assault on another enclave.
If this were not enough, Iran last week launched a crude satellite into space, suggesting that the Islamic regime has mastered at least some of the technology for multistage, long-range missiles.
Finally, Yemen on Sunday announced that it had released 170 men arrested on suspicion of having ties to al Qaeda. Just two weeks earlier, the terrorist group called Yemen its base for the entire Arabian Peninsula.
While none of these events amounts to the foreign policy crisis that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said during the campaign would test the new president in his opening months, Mr. Obama’s reaction will shape foreign perceptions of the new U.S. leader’s mettle.