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    Default How would the Obama Administration define the "Obama Doctrine"?

    From the perspective of the Obama Administration, what would they argue is the "Obama Doctrine". I would argue they would say it was this:

    http://www.vox.com/2014/8/8/5981543/...-it-is-working

    This goes to show mostly that the Washington policy establishment engages in a lot of tedious conversations. It's pretty clear to me that Obama is a realist, as are almost all leaders of almost all countries, and that he doesn't particularly feel bad about it at all. Nor should he. He's actually quite good at it.

    To its detractors, realism is a policy of cynicism — one that, in the name a cold-hearted national interest, leaves on the table a bounty of humanitarian gains ripe for the plucking.

    The more generous view is that realism is a policy of limits. A recognition that for a moral foreign policy to do any good in the world it must be feasible, and that even the mightiest empire the world has ever known faces daunting challenges when it attempts to remake the domestic politics of foreign countries. A recognition that the long-term ability of the United States to do any good for anyone hinges on maintaining domestic strength and advancing foreign goals in cost-effective ways.
    As a follow-on question, however you would argue they would define their doctrine, is it an accurate description?
    Last edited by BrentWilliams; 08-10-2014 at 09:40 PM.

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    I don't disagree with the basic premises in the article, but I also don't think it as simple as identifying his overall foreign policy as based on realism. A few points from West Point speech point to a more complex view of the world and America's role in it.

    Areas of emphasis are mine.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-...ement-ceremony

    May 28, 2014
    Remarks by the President at the United States Military Academy Commencement Ceremony

    It will be your generationís task to respond to this new world. The question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead -- not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.
    Now, this question isnít new. At least since George Washington served as Commander-in-Chief, there have been those who warned against foreign entanglements that do not touch directly on our security or economic wellbeing. Today, according to self-described realists, conflicts in Syria or Ukraine or the Central African Republic are not ours to solve. And not surprisingly, after costly wars and continuing challenges here at home, that view is shared by many Americans.

    A different view from interventionists from the left and right says that we ignore these conflicts at our own peril; that Americaís willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and Americaís failure to act in the face of Syrian brutality or Russian provocations not only violates our conscience, but invites escalating aggression in the future
    .

    And each side can point to history to support its claims. But I believe neither view fully speaks to the demands of this moment. It is absolutely true that in the 21st century American isolationism is not an option. We donít have a choice to ignore what happens beyond our borders. If nuclear materials are not secure, that poses a danger to American cities. As the Syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle-hardened extremist groups to come after us only increases. Regional aggression that goes unchecked -- whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea, or anywhere else in the world -- will ultimately impact our allies and could draw in our military. We canít ignore what happens beyond our boundaries.
    I believe that a world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative, it also helps to keep us safe.
    But to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution.
    Hereís my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we donít, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only -- or even primary -- component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader -- and especially your Commander-in-Chief -- to be clear about how that awesome power should be used.
    First, let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it -- when our people are threatened, when our livelihoods are at stake, when the security of our allies is in danger. In these circumstances, we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just. International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland, or our way of life.
    On the other hand, when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States, when such issues are at stake -- when crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction but do not directly threaten us -- then the threshold for military action must be higher. In such circumstances, we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. We have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law; and, if just, necessary and effective, multilateral military action. In such circumstances, we have to work with others because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained, less likely to lead to costly mistakes.
    This leads to my second point: For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism. But a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naÔve and unsustainable.
    So we have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat -- one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stir up local resentments. We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us. And empowering partners is a large part of what we have done and what we are currently doing in Afghanistan.
    After World War II, America had the wisdom to shape institutions to keep the peace and support human progress -- from NATO and the United Nations, to the World Bank and IMF. These institutions are not perfect, but they have been a force multiplier. They reduce the need for unilateral American action and increase restraint among other nations.

    Now, just as the world has changed, this architecture must change as well. At the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy spoke about the need for a peace based upon, ďa gradual evolution in human institutions.Ē And evolving these international institutions to meet the demands of today must be a critical part of American leadership.
    Now, there are a lot of folks, a lot of skeptics, who often downplay the effectiveness of multilateral action. For them, working through international institutions like the U.N. or respecting international law is a sign of weakness. I think theyíre wrong. Let me offer just two examples why.

    In Ukraine, Russiaís recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isnít the Cold War. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions; Europe and the G7 joined us to impose sanctions; NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies; the IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraineís economy; OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine. And this mobilization of world opinion and international institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda and Russian troops on the border and armed militias in ski masks.
    This weekend, Ukrainians voted by the millions. Yesterday, I spoke to their next President. We donít know how the situation will play out and there will remain grave challenges ahead, but standing with our allies on behalf of international order working with international institutions, has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future without us firing a shot.
    The point is this is American leadership. This is American strength. In each case, we built coalitions to respond to a specific challenge. Now we need to do more to strengthen the institutions that can anticipate and prevent problems from spreading. For example, NATO is the strongest alliance the world has ever known. But weíre now working with NATO allies to meet new missions, both within Europe where our Eastern allies must be reassured, but also beyond Europeís borders where our NATO allies must pull their weight to counterterrorism and respond to failed states and train a network of partners.
    You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We canít exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everybody else. We canít call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that itís taking place. We canít try to resolve problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by our United States Senate, despite the fact that our top military leaders say the treaty advances our national security. Thatís not leadership; thatís retreat.
    I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.

    Which brings me to the fourth and final element of American leadership: Our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity. Americaís support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism -- it is a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends and are far less likely to go to war. Economies based on free and open markets perform better and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I don't disagree with the basic premises in the article, but I also don't think it as simple as identifying his overall foreign policy as based on realism. A few points from West Point speech point to a more complex view of the world and America's role in it.

    Areas of emphasis are mine.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-...ement-ceremony

    May 28, 2014
    Remarks by the President at the United States Military Academy Commencement Ceremony



    .




























    I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.
    Much of that sounds like what would be said by any administration. Does that really provide a means to understand the actions of this administration?

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    I wouldn't necessarily say there exists an "Obama Doctrine" and if one does exist, that it's "realist" in nature. From day one, Obama made it clear that his administration would focus on domestic policy, primarily managing the financial crisis and implementation healthcare reform. The 2010 mid-term elections surprised everyone and the subsequent paralysis of government from bitter political infighting only deepened the administration's focus on playing small ball at home to even get a budget passed.

    Looking at this week's poll numbers (Gallup) - Obama is trending above 50% among 18-29 year olds, non-whites, Hispanics, and blacks. And as of May, the top issues were unemployment and government inaction; foreign policy ranked at a distance #9.

    That comes at a price for foreign policy. Obama had already committed the U.S. to withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, and normalizing the GWoT through legal mechanisms to put it on a more stable and legitimate footing. And the other two conflicts (Libya, Syria) evidences caution about further foreign entanglements. I think Obama had the same concern of Johnson about foreign conflicts up-ending domestic ambitions. So - the foreign policy as a result is short-term, ad-hoc; a way to minimize costs to the administration while preserving any gains made, and shielding the domestic policy agenda. That means minimizing risks (i.e. Libya, Syria) and seeking short-term, clearly defined wins (bin Laden, new Iraq airstrikes) when the opportunity presents itself.

    Is that realist? I don't think so. Opportunist and pragmatic, perhaps, but I don't think there's a clear underlying strategy with any long-term goals in mind (at least, long-term goals unique to Obama's administration and not inherited as a legacy policy; i.e. North Korea).
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    I wouldn't necessarily say there exists an "Obama Doctrine" and if one does exist, that it's "realist" in nature. From day one, Obama made it clear that his administration would focus on domestic policy, primarily managing the financial crisis and implementation healthcare reform. The 2010 mid-term elections surprised everyone and the subsequent paralysis of government from bitter political infighting only deepened the administration's focus on playing small ball at home to even get a budget passed.

    Looking at this week's poll numbers (Gallup) - Obama is trending above 50% among 18-29 year olds, non-whites, Hispanics, and blacks. And as of May, the top issues were unemployment and government inaction; foreign policy ranked at a distance #9.

    That comes at a price for foreign policy. Obama had already committed the U.S. to withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, and normalizing the GWoT through legal mechanisms to put it on a more stable and legitimate footing. And the other two conflicts (Libya, Syria) evidences caution about further foreign entanglements. I think Obama had the same concern of Johnson about foreign conflicts up-ending domestic ambitions. So - the foreign policy as a result is short-term, ad-hoc; a way to minimize costs to the administration while preserving any gains made, and shielding the domestic policy agenda. That means minimizing risks (i.e. Libya, Syria) and seeking short-term, clearly defined wins (bin Laden, new Iraq airstrikes) when the opportunity presents itself.

    Is that realist? I don't think so. Opportunist and pragmatic, perhaps, but I don't think there's a clear underlying strategy with any long-term goals in mind (at least, long-term goals unique to Obama's administration and not inherited as a legacy policy; i.e. North Korea).
    I would say after the the 2010 midterms, the Administrations main internal focus was foreign policy. It was the one area that the commander in chief can act with greater autonomy. He certainly seems to think it is his focus. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/wo...anted=all&_r=0 ) With that, I think it is a bit of a stretch to say that internally there is no logic behind their actions. That they are just using pragmatism and thinking in the short term.

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    There are some general themes in foreign policy that can be identified. Multilateral engagement is clearly in. Encouraging capable allies to take greater responsibility for regional security issues is in as well. Limited scale is in, open ended commitments and grandiose transformations are out. Aspirational goals are out. Trying to dictate outcomes or the internal policies of foreign nations is out.

    I don't know that any of this constitutes a "doctrine" per se; to a large extent it's just an acknowledgment of reality. Given the economic crisis and unproductive legacy wars, the options were fairly limited, and a period of retrenchment and recovery was arguably inevitable. Whether that's simply a period of cyclic reticence in the post-Vietnam mold or the start of a long term decline remains to be seen. That question will ultimately be decided not by US foreign policy decisions, but by America's ability or inability to re-energize its economy. There is likely more hope there than some see: the US has had deep problems before, and has demonstrated the ability to adapt. Adaptation has sometimes been slow and clumsy, with missteps along the way, but that's the nature of adaptation. There are, as always, myriad voices shrieking "doom is nigh and my way is the only way to salvation", but all of them are wrong. Effective adaptation requires a synthesis of multiple competing views, and that sorts out over time.

    I do think that this administration's priority on multilateralism is a step in a necessary direction. Like it or not, the world is a multipolar place today, and no nation can aspire to keep peace for all or to play global policeman: the cost is simply too great for any nation to bear alone. There will be no more "Pax Americana"; those days are gone. There could conceivably be a "Pax Democratica", in which the democratic nations of the world cooperate and contribute in ways proportional to their capacity. That's a long way off and it will be a struggle to get there, but at least it's a struggle with a potential future, which a struggle to reverse time and go back to American unipolar primacy would not be. If we can get a few steps down that road, that's something.
    ďThe whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginaryĒ

    H.L. Mencken

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