Blissful ignorance

The questions Obama still needs to answer

Barack Obama’s first few days in office have been the most publicized—and scrutinized—of any president’s in recent memory. But his intentions on a number of key policy files remain murky. For example, it’s not yet clear whether Obama believes he can end the war in Afghanistan—and, if he does believe victory is possible, when and how that can be expected to happen. Even on Iraq, from where he’s promised to withdraw U.S. troops within 16 months, Obama has added so many caveats to the pledge that it’s difficult to tell how the president will respond if things take a turn for the worse. Some domestic questions remain similarly unanswered: If long-term deficits are as “unsustainable” as he says they are, how does he plan to balance the federal budget? How will he reconcile his promise to make government more transparent with the country’s national security obsession? And after placating unions during the campaign with talk of re-opening NAFTA, what will his relationship with Big Labour be like now that he’s in the White House?