As promised, Obama withdrew American forces from Iraq. And he is leading international efforts to penalize Iran with stiff economic sanctions for pursuing a suspected nuclear weapons program. But he has also quietly pushed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to the back burner.
Yes, he joined an international coalition to support the rebellion against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. But he has so far been reluctant to intervene more directly in Syria, where the government is estimated to have killed more than 30,000 civilians in its brutal crackdown against the proponents of democracy.
The president called publicly on Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak to step down, breaking ranks with a stalwart US ally. However, he only tepidly objected when the oil-rich powers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent troops into Bahrain to crush democratic protests there.
Obama’s biggest gamble, perhaps, was to strike a harder open line against Israel in an attempt to strengthen US credibility with Arab leaders. But the end result was that it contributed to the stall in talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and the lack of a Palestinian state continues to work against the US on the Arab street.