Foreign Policy Flare-Ups Test Obama Worldview

The list of foreign policy crises has multiplied rapidly in the past week. The anti-American demonstrations in a wide array of Muslim-majority countries, the attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, the escalating war in Syria, and tensions in Iraq and south China all add up to a major test of the Obama Adminstration in a critical election season, says Susan Glasser, the editor in chief at Foreign Policy magazine.

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"That's the peril and also the opportunity of being the incumbent president and running for re-election is that you don't have the luxury just of focusing on one thing, but your inbox will sooner or later roar up with something like this," Glasser says.

She says US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Foreign Policy he is monitoring more than a dozen conflicts and accessing the need for intervention.

"He said that he was watching as many as 18 different countries in case a rapid deployment of Marines needed to take place," Glasser says. "It suggests the extent of the unknowns we're facing now, and the extent of the possible instability."

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    Susan Glasser, editor in chief, Foreign Policy (Photo: Foreign Policy)

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    Susan Glasser, editor in chief, Foreign Policy (Photo: Foreign Policy)

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    Tunisian riot policemen stand guard near the al-Fatah mosque in Tunis September 17, 2012. Saif-Allah Benahssine, leader of the Tunisian branch of the hardline Islamist Ansar al-Sharia, on Monday escaped from the mosque that had been surrounded by security forces seeking to arrest him over clashes at the U.S. Embassy last week during protests against an anti-Islam film, a Reuters witness said. He slipped away after hundreds of his followers stormed out of al-Fatah mosque, some wielding sticks and creating panic among pedestrians. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi (TUNISIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST RELIGION)