President Clinton is off to regions where, despite occasional anti-American demonstrators, the obstacles to getting something done may seem lower than they are back in Washington.
As he tours southern Europe and Turkey, Mr. Clinton will discuss security concerns with allies, raise some human rights issues, and push toward resolution of regional conflicts. At his first stop, Ankara, he also had an opportunity to express sympathy for Turkey's earthquake victims and pledge US help.
Later, the president will stop off in Kosovo. His brief presence won't resolve that province's deep problems, but it will reaffirm Western determination to see through the task begun with last spring's air war.
Clinton may hope to reap some political gains from these travels. It's often easiest to be "presidential" far from Washington's fray.
But that fray, in particular the final-hour wrestling over the budget, includes something that could have at least as large an impact on US foreign policy goals as anything the president is likely to do over the next few days of travel.
At long last, Congress is finally moving toward a compromise resolution of the deadlock over paying nearly $1 billion in US back dues to the United Nations
The president should approve this compromise - which entails a slight cut in US funding for family-planning aid overseas. That will get something done - at home and abroad.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society