US Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama, who has made history as the first non-white candidate ever to lead a major US party into a fall campaign for the White House, is riding high end making a splash nowadays. He is the 46-year-old first term Illinois Senator. Obama is crossing swords in November election with Republican Senator John Mc Cain, a Vietnam war hero and former prisoner of war who has been a leading voice in the Senate on national security. Indubitably, success is almost upon Obama in the elections but after entering the Oval office in January 2009, Obama will have to tread a tightrope as there is little room left for tripping up. As the American elections are going, in no small measure, to pivot around the future of the US troops in Iraq, so the premier challenge for Obama lies on the Iraqi front. Obama declaims that he has not shifted ground in the context of his promise to pronounce an end to the Iraq war and he reaffirms that his original views remain intact. However, by all accounts Obama will be obliged to undertake vacillation on this score and subscribe to the war's political entanglements as the decision he will make in this regard will continue to reverberate for long times to come. Putting an end to the Iraq war will bring unpalatable and rebarbative spin-off in its train in the form of a humiliation of the highest order for the US. The recent "flip flop" by Obama on Iraq war is an indictment of the feature that he may waffle over and get wishy-washy. To put it mildly, Obama will have to contend with three conflicting political realities. The first is the mood of the American public, which has handed out a judgement that the price they have paid in Iraq over the last five years, far exceeds what has been achieved there thus far. Therefore, Obama will take on the mantle of US presidency knowing that American people will not countenance another four-year dominated by an open-ended commitment to Iraq. The second one is the reality on the ground in Iraq, which is no longer an unremitting horror story. Clearly, the surge has helped to dampen the internal conflict and take the edge off sectarian tensions. Clearly, the Iraqi army is performing better. It goes without saying, Iraq's Prime Minister Al-Maliki, by cracking down on rogue Shia groups from his own community, has established himself as more of a national leader. On the other hand, the Sunnis have decided to take part in the coming parliamentary elections, while Kurdistan continues to operate as an island of decency and free markets. Moreover, Al-Qaeda in Iraq has taken a slight pounding and some Arab countries are coming to terms with the changes and moving with the times by reopening embassies in Baghdad. The third reality is that the reconciliation process inside Iraq - almost five years after invasion - still has not reached a point where Iraq's stability is self-sustaining. The US military is needed as a referee. Even today it is not clear that Iraq is a country which can be held together by anything other than an iron first and that its government is anything more than a collection of sectarian fiefs. It is this volatile swirl that will likely greet Obama as the next president - the deep desire of the US public to be finished with Iraq because of the prohibitive costs; the flicker of hope that a decent outcome, one that might redeem some of those costs, is still possible; and the fact that Iraq has not cohered as a country yet. The second most important challenge for Obama will be to cope with a significantly different global economy from the one inherited by George W Bush eight years ago and he will have to forge a masterly strategy to address it. The most dramatic changes are the emerging economies like Russia, China and India and the big oil exporters now playing a far greater role in the world economy and that the US is now a great deal more dependent on their financial decisions, economic policies, capital and markets. Ham-handed handling of the economic policy has piled on the agony. All this will be a big ask for Obama as he is not a shoo-in to grapple with these challenges. However, he will have to rise to the occasion and prove that he is the bee's knees and an administrator par excellence by taking up the slack. He will have to take recourse to off-beat style of doing things and stand tall if he wants to steer the American nation at this critical juncture, otherwise the prospect of Obama's presidency making a change will remain a chimera. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: