THE euphoria, the drama, the sweeping new possibilities to settle old conflicts around the world - many of the foreign affairs endeavors of the Bush administration have held this glow.
But from the Middle East to Moscow, American interests in the world have shifted into a decidedly post-euphoric stage.
Not that the United States position is not more secure than ever. It is.
But high ambitions for progress are once again working against a reality that seems stubborn and dogged.
"There is a tendency I've noticed for stories to begin with great drama, with characters of good and evil," says Daniel Pipes, director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. "They always become more complex and more differentiated and more agonized.
"We're in that phase now in many stories."
Official Washington is focused on how to secure the peace on two fronts: with the Soviet Union and in the Middle East.
An apparent breakthrough last weekend in settling differences on a treaty to reduce conventional arms in Europe, considered the broadest disarmament agreement yet, is good news for Soviet-American relations and puts a long-postponed Bush-Gorbachev summit back on track.
But that good news just means that the treaty is almost back to where most of the world thought it was last November, when the document was signed in Paris.
That Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is apparently returning to an economic reform agenda is welcome news to Americans. But a year ago, when Mr. Gorbachev was visiting Washington, the euphoria over the opening of the Soviet economy was so high that the telephones to the Soviet desk at the International Trade Commission were jammed for weeks afterward. …