Richard Holbrooke was a US Ambassador to the UN under Bill Clinton. He is likely to feature in any Barack Obama administration, perhaps even as Secretary of State. In the main essay for the latest edition of Foreign Affairs he sets out 'A Daunting Agenda' for the next President. His two main concerns are: (1) the transfer of wealth to oil-rich and often threatening regimes and (2) the re-emergence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda within Pakistan.
THE TRANSFER OF WEALTH TO VENEZUELA, RUSSIA, SAUDI ARABIA AND OTHER COMPETITOR POWERS
"With the price of oil quadruple what it was four years ago, Americans are witnessing -- or, more to the point, contributing to -- the greatest transfer of wealth from one set of nations to another in history... The United States consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil a day, about 12 million of which are imported. Based on prices from the first half of 2008, that means the United States is transferring about $1.3 billion to the oil-producing countries every day -- $475 billion a year... Saudi Arabia, which, although it has long worked with Washington to bolster world oil output and keep prices within an acceptable range, has simultaneously allowed billions of (ostensibly nongovernmental) dollars to go toward building extremist madrasahs and funding terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda. There will be more such complicated double-dealing in the future: Does anyone doubt that the current assertiveness on the international stage of, for example, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela comes from the economic muscle that accompanies their growing petrodollar reserves? (Venezuela now spends five times as much as the United States on foreign aid to the rest of Latin America.)"
AL-QAEDA IN PAKISTAN
"As a recent New York Times article stated, "It is increasingly clear that the Bush administration will leave office with Al Qaeda having successfully relocated its base from Afghanistan to Pakistan's tribal areas, where it has rebuilt much of its ability to attack from the region and broadcast its messages to militants across the world." Nothing -- not even Iraq -- represents a greater policy failure for the outgoing administration."