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How fares Obama's multi-tasking?

A charm offensive alone won't settle a troubled world.

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During the presidential election campaign, one of Barack Obama's interrogators asked him how, with his lack of international expertise, he could handle foreign problems as well as domestic challenges. The then-senator replied, a little tartly, that the presidency required being a "multi-tasker," able to handle several crises at a time.

Just 16 days into his presidency, Mr. Obama has proved to be an able multi-tasker, juggling domestic and foreign issues simultaneously.

At home, he is handling one of the most critical economic challenges the United States has faced in decades.

Abroad he has set a new pace and tone in international diplomacy with a series of dramatic moves:

1. He ordered the Guantánamo facility holding suspected terrorists and sympathizers closed within a year.

2. He ordered that, except under extraordinary circumstances, interrogation of suspected terrorists henceforth be carried out in accordance with the US Army field manual. Both these decisions were widely hailed as making positive improvements in the image of the US government.

3. He appointed a heavyweight envoy, former Sen. George Mitchell, famed for his conciliatory work in Northern Ireland, to work for settlement of the years-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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