Not quite nine months into his presidency,Barack Obama woke to the news that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize — not for anything yet accomplished, but for the promise that he would end the Iraq war, win the “war of necessity” in Afghanistan, move toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, tackle climate change and engage America’s adversaries.
Yet beyond Iraq, his first-term accomplishments from that list are sparse. In a fractured world, President Obama struggled to define a grand strategy for America’s role, apart from preserving its pre-eminence while relying increasingly on a changing cast of partners.
As Mr. Obama begins his second term, aides and confidants say he is acutely aware that his ambitious agenda to restore America’s influence and image in the world stalled almost as soon as the prize was awarded. But the president has indicated that he plans to return to his original agenda, though he has hinted it may be in a different, less overtly ambitious way.