The Bush administration is facing major challenges in the foreign-policy arena. In this report from Washington, Senior Correspondent Andr?de Nesnera looks at three leading issues: the war on terrorism, the situation in Iraq, and the search for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The war on terrorism was a major challenge during President Bush's first term and it will remain at the top of his foreign policy list during the next four years
"We will persevere until the enemy is defeated. We will stay strong and resolute. We have a duty, a solemn duty to protect the American people and we will."
Many experts say the war on terrorism will dominate Mr. Bush's foreign policy. But they hope the President will seek greater international cooperation in dealing with terrorism. Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is still at large and experts say a united international community is needed to confront other terrorist groups.
Experts also say the ongoing violence in Iraq and the search for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question are two major challenges facing a second Bush administration.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Mack says in Iraq Mr. Bush must focus on reasonable goals.
"The administration has to settle on some achievable objectives, things that are believed to be absolutely necessary for the United States: such as to assure that Iraq does not become a haven for terrorists or resumes the production of weapons of mass destruction. But at the same time to realize, that within the context of Iraqi politics and Iraqi society, some of those other objectives that the administration talked about when it went into Iraq, such as transforming the entire Middle East through the establishment of a model democracy and a free market system in Iraq, are frankly unachievable, at least in any reasonable time frame."
Experts say U.S. officials are faced with the same issues they encountered during President Bush' first term: fighting insurgents, training Iraqi security forces and creating conditions favorable for elections in late January.
Michael O'Hanlon, a foreign policy expert with the Brookings Institution, says in the coming months, Mr. Bush will also have to address the question of the continuing presence of U.S. forces in Iraq.
"Do you decide in the course of 2005, that we should try to hasten our departure from Iraq: not in the sense of cutting and running, because the president said he would not do that and I believe that he is committed not to do that, but in the sense that our presence has become part of the problem in that the insurgents see us as occupying their country, think we're there for the long haul, trying to take their oil, etc., etc., and thereby the longer we stay, the more we help the insurgents recruit additional followers. And is it plausible, or desirable to say: 'We will now announce that in 2006 we will pull out at least two-thirds of our forces.' Is that sort of proposal sound and sensible, and would that actually make things better?"
Mr. O'Hanlon believes such a move could be beneficial.
On the question of finding a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, many experts say Mr. Bush must play a far more active role. One of those is Lee Hamilton, former Chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
"No President can really dodge the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. The President has stepped back during recent years, but I do not think any other issue polarizes relations between the United States and the Islamic world as much as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And I think stability in that part of the world will not be achieved without some kind of approach or solution to the conflict."
Experts say Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has effectively been sidelined: first by the Israelis, then by the Americans and now because of his health. David Mack says the Bush administration must seize the moment to try to get the peace process back on track.
"Yasser Arafat has now essentially removed himself from the scene and if we handle this question of the succession to his leadership position with a far greater degree of skill and discretion than we have shown we are capable of in the past, we can find a way of being supportive with a new generation of Palestinian leaders - and that is a big opportunity.
Mr. Mack also says the United States must encourage Israel to take steps to bring to reality, in his words, this very desirable vision of two independent and viable states living side by side in security and peace.