With the euphoria over the Arab Spring wearing off, President Obama is sending top aides to the Middle East to address worsening violence in Yemen and fears of renewed civil strife in Sudan.
North Korea is seen as an unpredictable 'spoiled child.' Iran is seen as a rational but aggressive nation. Each have nuclear programs, but pose unique problems for US security.
How to battle Al Qaeda-affiliated extremists in Yemen has been added to a London conference on Afghanistan. The Fort Hood shooting and Christmas Day airline bombing attempt have made Yemen's extremists a more urgent problem for the US and its antiterror allies.
Waning American support for the war and allegations of fraud in the Afghan elections have turned a policy review into a fervent debate about the Afghanistan conflict within the Obama administration.
The US has scored no big wins under his policy of talking with the enemy. Doubts that it can are rising.
Gen. David Petraeus, who handed over command on Tuesday to Gen. Raymond Odierno, will lead US Central Command.