"Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking."
This ominous warning was not issued by President-elect Obama's campaign adversary John McCain or any of his surrogates. It came from Joe Biden, Obama's running mate and the nation's next vice president - merely two weeks before Obama's election victory.
Indeed, throughout his two-year campaign for the most powerful office in the world, Obama's lack of executive experience was almost always Topic No. 1. And his virtual blank slate pertaining to foreign policy produced more attack lines by his opponents than anything else.
During the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton made much hay when she unleashed the famed "3 a.m. call" television ad questioning whether a nation at war could risk electing someone so green as its leader. She made dramatic gains following the ad's unveiling, taking Obama to the wire in a spirited intra-party fight.
With an electorate more concerned about the current financial crisis and other more worrisome domestic issues, Obama beat McCain comfortably to win the election. But the world's bad actors and flash points will not simply go away. Fortunately for him, some of the potential problems will remain more long-term and less urgent, such as China, India and Brazil; while others, such as Venezuela, Cuba and Africa, will not be strategically pressing enough to warrant emergency actions.
So just who'll be responsible for Obama's first 3 a.m. phone call at the White House? After careful consideration, these are RealClearWorld's top five suspects: