President Obama has never faced this many international crises at once. And it's never been so obvious that he lacks the silver bullet to fix them.
With no apparent solution to the violence in Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan -- and with the much-heralded Iran talks still without a breakthrough -- the president soon will find it virtually impossible to claim a major foreign-policy victory before he leaves office.
The White House is desperate for a win, with Obama's approval ratings on international affairs at an all-time low, surveys have repeatedly found. But he has no realistic way of bolstering his standing with the American public, as he did when U.S. forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and he won his most significant spike in how voters perceived his handling of crises abroad.
“It's a cruel and unforgiving world,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator and adviser to six secretaries of state. “There's no opportunities where he can demonstrate resolve or success -- there's a certain reality there.”