"Many international issues now await the authority that can come only from being newly elected to lead what remains the world's only superpower, even in straightened financial circumstances. They are problems that need the power of a president with four or eight years ahead of him in office, to which no US administration in its final months can bring the necessary combination of fresh analysis and staying power."
In an article for The Sunday Telegraph, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague identifies some of the next American President's leading foreign policy challenges:
Peace in the Middle East, notably between Israel and Syria: "The most obvious example is the Middle East Peace Process. The world will look to the new President of the United States to apply his efforts to forcing compromises with vigour and determination from the very outset. And that should include encouraging a peace treaty between Israel and Syria, an immensely difficult objective but one that, if achieved, would help to break innumerable deadlocks elsewhere."
Afghanistan: "The election of a new president and the simultaneous arrival of General David Petraeus at US Central Command provide the opportunity for the Americans to lead the way to a more coherent strategic approach. That must include a huge effort in Kabul to provide better functioning and less easily corrupted national leadership, the more effective co-ordination of international aid and reconstruction, a more clearly unified military command of all NATO forces, an increase in US forces and a continued, sustained improvement in Pakistan's combating of insurgents inside its own frontiers. The United States is the only country in the world that can, with our support, force the pace on all these issues."
- Iran: "In the Conservative Party we have long argued that stopping Iran's nuclear plans will require more carrot from America at the appropriate time and already requires more stick from the nations of Europe. Wide-ranging financial sanctions by the EU and bans on European investment in Iranian oil and gas fields have been proposed by Britain but not agreed in other capitals. The approach to Iran on both sides of the Atlantic needs an urgent injection of strength."
- Russia and Georgia: "It is clear from visiting Georgia, as I did a week ago, that the terms of the August ceasefire have not yet been fully implemented: the movement of Russian forces into parts of South Ossetia in which they were not present before the August invasion make that clear enough. Yet many EU leaders are already itching to get back to "business as usual". To do so with such speed, at a time when an EU-sponsored ceasefire has not been fully respected and the possibility of renewed conflict remains, would send a signal of collective European weakness where there should be united strength."
- Bosnia: "The international community needs to deliver a clear message that all ethnic groups in Bosnia must achieve the goal of living peacefully alongside each other: if Europe's leaders cannot summon up the will to exert the necessary pressure then it will fall to the next President of the United States to do so."
It is perhaps a sign of the enormous progress in Iraq over the last year that Mr Hague chose not to include the defining event of the Bush-Blair years in his article.