President Obama's year in foreign policy consisted of a legislative win, figuring out his Afghan war strategy and trying to keep a hold of some countries with looming threats.
The president ended his year with a political victory, securing the passage of the Russian nuclear arms treaty called START. He had the backing of some former Republican power players, including former President H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. However it was still a struggle to pull out the GOP votes needed, with some senators charging the verification process wasn't strong enough and that it could hurt missile defense. Obama enlisted the help of Vice President Biden to champion support in the Senate.
"This is the most significant arms control agreement in nearly two decades, and it will make us safer and reduce our nuclear arsenals along with Russia," Obama said at a news conference just after its passage last week.
How to handle the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq also dominated his foreign agenda. The president is still doing a delicate balance of trying to hold onto his campaign pledge to limit U.S. involvement and appease his liberal base, while still yielding to the advice of commanders on the ground. Obama made two surprise trips to Afghanistan, with the second one being just a year after he announced a surge in troops there, which hit full strength this September.
There was a major turn in military leadership in the summer after General Stanley McChrystal left amid a Rolling Stones interview where he and other staff were quoted with making disparaging remarks about the administration and the overall war operation.
The president then tapped General David Petraeus, who has been credited with turning around the turmoil in Iraq, to take over the Afghan war.
Then there were the cables released by Wikileaks, which resulted in some negative attention to the U.S. diplomatic efforts. And while Vice President Biden said he didn't think it caused "significant damage," foreign policy expert Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution noted it's implications.
"In a broad, American foreign policy sense I think Wikileaks was fairly serious and certainly has hurt our working relationships with a number of allies. On the other hand, I have to say in regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan, I don't see any big change because I think most of the leaking that was going happen, had already happened inadvertently...or sometimes intentionally, by other people," O'Hanlon said.
As for Iraq, the government there struggled to coalesce ahead of the Bush-era timetable of troops coming home, which is approaching in 2011. After more than nine months, the Iraqis were finally able to form a government and the U.S. was able to end combat operations and move to advising and assisting.
"It ultimately seems to have succeeded and we drew down 80,000 US troops from about 130,000 to 50,000 without any increase in overall violence levels. And, in fact, violence went down somewhat," O'Hanlon said
Heather Conley is a European analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
She says Obama overall had a decent year in foreign policy.
"On the whole it was a pretty good year. It certainly ended with a flurry. I think the president getting the new START Treaty passed was an important issue. I think we saw some success in the nuclear non-proliferation agenda with the nuclear security summit this past April. We saw a fourth round of sanctions against Iran. So, that was the good news, but there are some big, big issues ahead that are certainly a cause for concern," Conley said .
Hovering over the year were the looming threats of Iran and North Korea, with a growing concern they will enhance or implement their nuclear capability.
The situation in between the Koreas escalated in November when the North sank a South Korean ship and then the provocative shelling of an island in November left some wondering if they were edging towards picking a war.
"They are acting more recklessly than they have for at least, I'd say, a dozen years in his last one to two-year period. And so I'm quite worried," O'Hanlon said.
U.S. business ties with Seoul were given a chance to grow when a free trade deal was agreed upon at the end of the year. It's still awaiting ratification.
And then there's Iran, which continues to be a destabilizing influence and there are growing fears they will pump up their nuclear arsenal. Some experts are predicting that this issue could become Obama's primary foreign policy challenge.
It was another year of hope for the middle east peace process, and another year of hopes fading after Israelis ended a settlement construction freeze in the west bank and Palestinians dropping out of peace talks.
"There was some enthusiasm and great hope that we would see more progress and I think over last nine months, we've just seen a steady slowing of progress to now that it's unclear where we're heading in 2011," said Conley.
Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.