A day of joy but also another day of horror. Even as American voters were giving the world the man whom opinion polls showed to be the overwhelming favourite in almost every country, his predecessor's terrible legacy was already crowding in on the president-elect.
Twenty-three children and 10 women died in the latest US air strike in Afghanistan, a failed war on terror that has only brought worse terror in its wake. In Iraq, explosions killed 13 people. Obama's stand against an unpopular war was the bedrock of his success on Tuesday, even though the financial meltdown sealed his victory. Now he must make good on his promises of withdrawal.
On Iran, the last of the toughest three issues in his foreign in-tray, his line differed sharply from McCain's. In contrast to the Republican's call to "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran", Obama offered dialogue. Though he qualified his initial talk of having the president sit down with his Iranian counterpart, he remains wedded to engagement rather than boycott.
In this arc of conflict - Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan - Obama's approach is preferable to Bush's or McCain's. The century-old paradigm of Republicans as the party of realism and the Democrats as the party of ideologues was turned upside down by the neocons. Bush led an administration of crusaders and took the country to disaster. Obama offers a return to traditional diplomacy.
Nevertheless, his position contains massive inconsistencies. While his instincts are cautious and pragmatic, he has not repudiated the war on terror. Rather, he insists that by focusing excessively on Iraq, the Bush administration "took its eye off the ball". The real target must be Afghanistan and if Osama bin Laden is spotted in Pakistan, bombing must be used there too.