JEB SHARP : I'm Jeb Sharp, this is The World. Today President Obama signed the final changes to the health care reform law. These are the amendments that Democrats in Congress agreed to after the main bill passed. Health care has dominated the President's agenda for much of the past year. Now that the reform package is law, Mr. Obama will presumably be able to move on to other pressing issues. And there are those who say that success on the domestic front will boost President Obama's foreign policy too. The World's Matthew Bell begins our coverage of what that could mean.
MATTHEW BELL: People in government talk about the scarcest resource of all being time, says military analyst Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. And now that the President has signed health care legislation, O'Hanlon says Mr. Obama can finally spend more time working on priorities like the war in Afghanistan.
MICHAEL O'HANLON: Clearly President Obama is a person who wants to develop a certain comfort level with policies before he puts his full support behind them. He had 10 meetings, famously, this past fall over Afghanistan policy before announcing that he would support General Chrystal's' basic concept of adding more troops. That kind of attention, rigor and care in decision making, which some have criticized, but which I personally find admirable, nonetheless does mean that you can only address so many issues at once.
BELL: There's no question, President Obama is feeling some wind at his back right now, says David Rothkopf of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. But that's got less to do with the Democrat's victory on health care Rothkopf says, than it does with Barack Obama spending the last year learning how to be an effective President.
DAVID ROTHKOPF: Because whether it's in Afghanistan or in Iran or in the Arab-Israeli issue or the global economy or dealing with the Chinese, these are very complex issues. Sometimes friends and enemies are hard to tell apart. And it really does take a mastery of all the tools at a President's disposal. And if Obama has shown anything over the course of the past several months, it's tenacity and pragmatism.
BELL: And nothing brings success, as they say, like success. Moises Naim is the editor in chief at Foreign Policy magazine. He says there's been a noticeable shift in the way President Obama is perceived around the world.
MOISES NAIM: If you read the international media, two weeks ago were reflecting the general perception that Mr. Obama was being defeated in what was one of the main planks of his campaign, one of his main promises and commitments and now the editorials and the articles and even the tone has changed, recognizing that this was a very important victory. Again, this what just happened, reinforces the notion that Obama somehow manages to come ahead and end up a winner even after he is widely perceived as a loser.
BELL: But the President's toughest adversaries in Tehran, for example, won't be moved by Mr. Obama's political achievements at home. Suzanne Maloney is a former State Department advisor on Iran. She says the good news for the administration is that the Republicans will be busy attacking the administration over health care going into the mid-term elections and that means they won't be making political hay out of the nuclear standoff with Iran.
SUSAN MALONEY: It is a strategy that is going to require a certain degree of time and strategic patience to see any prospect of effectiveness, sanctions are not overnight instruments. They typically entail months, if not years, to show any real effects. That's certainly going to be true for a regime like the Iranian regime which has endured American sanctions for almost 30 years now.
BELL: Maloney says the President's regained political momentum won't help sway the Iranian leadership. Tehran pays much less attention to events in Washington, D.C., that it does to U.S. efforts in the Middle East and that's a region, Maloney says, where outright political success continues to elude the Obama administration. For The World, I'm Matthew Bell.
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