WASHINGTON - President Obama vowed, during his second inaugural address Monday, to "manage crisis abroad" in pursuit of a more "peaceful world."
But four years after the president first took the oath, the task remains perhaps his most daunting.
Moments before Obama spoke at the west front of the Capitol, confirmation that two more Americans had been killed in the hostage standoff in Algeria undercut the president's optimism. The news ups the tally of U.S. citizens killed to three, while seven others made it out safely.
The brutal, and evidently planned, attack in the Sahara underscores how much work is left to be done on the world stage as Obama embarks on his second term. While the president spent the bulk of his first four years focused inward -- on jolting the American economy, overhauling the health care system and campaigning -- the number of international challenges has only mounted.
The attack in Algeria is the latest symptom of an emerging threat outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan axis that has been the focal point of America's "war on terror" since 2001. Plots have sprung out of Yemen, out of Libya and now Algeria, representing a massive band of instability spanning North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula -- not to mention the convulsing civil war in Syria.
Despite the challenge ahead, Obama on Monday sustained the message of reconciliation that drove his first term's foreign policy.
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