Robin Shepherd is a senior research fellow at Chatham House in London. The opinions expressed are his own.

robinshepherd-cropped1Which part of the word “change” did Barack Obama not understand? A year from now it is a question that many outside America will be asking about his foreign policy.

American forces will still be in Afghanistan; the handover in Iraq will continue, with some  troops coming home as they would have under President Bush; U.S. support for Israel will remain unchanged, while the Annapolis process begun under Obama’s predecessor continues to take its course.

The “war on terror”, though repackaged under a different name, will have shown no signs of abating. The world will still be sleep-walking its way towards a nuclear armed Iran, with America unable to rally China and Russia to participate in meaningful sanctions. Tensions with a neo-authoritarian Russia will have shown no signs of abating as commitments to NATO allies and partners, particularly on Russia’s periphery, take precedence over temptations to appease the Kremlin.

How, the world will ask, did the candidate of change become the president of continuity?