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Quick shot: Foreign policy issues lurking

  • David Gergen: International concerns simmering on back burner till election over
  • Gergen's list of issues: Karzai's behavior, China-U.S. relations and stalled Middle East talks
  • Gergen says we need better answers to tough questions after election hoopla
  • Hamid Karzai
  • Middle East
  • China
  • East Asia

Editor's note: There are seven days to go before voters cast ballots in the hotly contested midterm elections. In this special feature, David Gergen, a senior political analyst for CNN, offers some pre-election thoughts. Gergen was an adviser to four U.S. presidents and is professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.

(CNN) -- As excitement builds for next week's elections, international events naturally fall off the radar screen. But nasty storms are brewing out there and they will blow in soon after we vote. Consider just three.

On Monday, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan shamelessly admitted that he and his cronies regularly receive bags of cash from Iran -- money that diplomats say is intended to undermine U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan.

And Karzai once again insisted that U.S. private security guards -- vital for protection of U.S, citizens -- must soon go home. This from a man who owes his power to the blood and billions from the United States? How will we make this war end well?

On a second front, the Middle East peace talks announced with such fanfare at the White House just a few weeks ago have stalled almost before they have begun. Arab nations have given President Obama until just after U.S. elections to get them unstuck. A failure would be a setback in the whole region. Did we think this through before summoning Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the White House? What is Plan B?

As if this weren't enough, tensions are also building rapidly between China and the United States. According to The New York Times, "American officials speak of an alarming loss of trust and confidence between China and the United States over the past two years." The U.S.-China bilateral relationship is the most important in the world. Why is it in this dangerous spiral? Obama is leaving for Asia immediately after our elections. What plan does he have for restoring American leadership?

Next Tuesday's elections will preoccupy us for days to come, but soon after we will face some very tough questions overseas -- and we will need better answers than we have now.