What is the Obama Doctrine?

posted at 3:35 pm on March 4, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Charles Gibson attempted to lecture Sarah Palin on the “Bush doctrine” in foreign affairs, but managed to get it wrong himself while Palin got it mainly correct.  At least Bush had a “doctrine” in foreign policy.  Can anyone identify an Obama doctrine?  Ken Allard, formerly NBC’s military analyst, can’t suss one out at all:

President Barack Obama dithers over Libya with the predictable result that things have become even worse. Earlier administrations might have sent cruisers, but we managed a commercial ferry to evacuate Americans in fear for their lives. The Brits, however, secretly sent inmilitary aircraft to evacuate 150 of their nationals from harm’s way. Even the Dutch sent in three of their Marines — who were promptly taken prisoner by armed Libyan forces.

Meanwhile, the emboldened Moammar Gadhafi set about making three-hour speeches and sending his ragamuffin air force to bomb rebel strongholds — close to strategic oil terminals. …

The serious point — from the Gulf oil disaster to just about five minutes ago — is that we have a continuing failure of presidential leadership.

Elections certainly have consequences, but what exactly is the Obama Doctrine? Assuming there is anything more substantial to his foreign policy than “smart diplomacy,” then what is it? Speak softly to the Muslim world and hoping that it will love us in return? Speak more firmly to Iran and then try to remain calm when it ignores everything we just said? Or North Korea: How’s that working out for us, Mr. President?

On our last NARN broadcast on Saturday, I brought up this very point.  So far, the Obama “doctrine” appears to be that American power should not be used at all.  The ferry issue is one case in point.  Instead of flexing American muscle as a signal to Gaddafi that we will not stand idly by if the regime threatens our people or interests, Obama’s State Department hired a commercial ferry — and selected an inadequate one for the job at first.  That mistake left Americans waiting at the dock for days, while our mighty navy was given no role to play at all.

One cannot claim surprise at this outcome.  During the campaign, Obama made no secret of his distaste for exercises of American power, blasting the Bush administration for its “arrogance” and promising to restore our relationships with allies and opponents alike overseas through greater “humility.”  While readers puzzle over Allard’s question, allow me to ask another — which international relationship has Obama improved in the past two years in real, tangible terms?  Where has his exercise of “smart power” produced measurably better results in increased security or prosperity over that of his predecessor’s much-maligned (and mythical) “unilateralism”?

If there is an Obama doctrine at all — and the vacillating White House responses to various overseas crises strongly suggest there isn’t — it’s that our allies will love us more and our enemies respect us more if we refuse to use our power for our own interests.  That’s a standard belief in academia, but as we can see, what works well in theoretical environments doesn’t necessarily make sense in the real world.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Obama Doctrine:

Equal Poverty for All

Key West Reader on March 4, 2011 at 4:21 PM

Publicly, Obama does an impressionistic ballet of word salad to burnish his image. What he in fact does is expand the welfare state as much as he possibly can, by borrowing as much money as he possibly can. His foreign policy is nothing but burnishing his global public image. So there we have it.

Paul-Cincy on March 4, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Obama’s “Doctrine”?

Ignore it until it either goes away or somehow resolves itself on it’s own. Whether in our favor or not. Besides, it’s all Bush’s fault anyway..

GarandFan on March 4, 2011 at 4:23 PM

P = Pathetic
A = Arrogant
R = Race Hustlin
T = Thief
Y = Yes He Is

/I feel another WH Party comin’ on!

Key West Reader on March 4, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Bush’s numbers are almost identical to His.

Of late he doesn’t blame GWB so much any more.

Schadenfreude on March 4, 2011 at 4:26 PM

The Obama Doctrine: Managed Decline.

Buy Danish on March 4, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Union Made

faraway on March 4, 2011 at 4:27 PM

O/T: Janet Clownitano now wants to increase the “security fees” when flying…..Jeez, it’s not like the gas is going up, airline ticket prices going up, checked baggage charges are going up….

sicoit on March 4, 2011 at 4:28 PM

And yet, those who voted for him probably haven’t even read a paper or a blog all week long. I actually talked to someone the other day who had no clue what was going on in Wisconsin, much less the chaos overseas. Ignorance and malaise will get him reelected and we’ll all suffer, as we have been, because of it. And yet, Charlie Sheen gains a million followers in a day. A DAY.

scalleywag on March 4, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Obooba Doctrine: Whatever’s worse for the US, do with alacrity.

Akzed on March 4, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Of late he doesn’t blame GWB so much any more.

Schadenfreude on March 4, 2011 at 4:26 PM

I noticed that too. Even Pelosi has been quiet about GW and he was her favorite target!

scalleywag on March 4, 2011 at 4:30 PM

sicoit on March 4, 2011 at 4:28 PM

She’s been talkin’ to Biden again…got to be one of the ways they are gonna to “force” people to take those imaginary high-speed trains.

coldwarrior on March 4, 2011 at 4:31 PM

O/T: Janet Clownitano now wants to increase the “security fees” when flying…..Jeez, it’s not like the gas is going up, airline ticket prices going up, checked baggage charges are going up….

sicoit on March 4, 2011 at 4:28 PM

sesquipedalian will blame GWB.

Schadenfreude on March 4, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Even Pelosi has been quiet about GW and he was her favorite target!

scalleywag on March 4, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Well, now that she lost the jets she’s too busy looking for her brooms.

Schadenfreude on March 4, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Screw Policy, I have a Motown party to throw.

pseudonominus on March 4, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Obama’s “Doctrine”?

It ain’t terrorism if American soldiers and civilians get killed by nuts screaming Allah Akbar.

Kini on March 4, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Can anyone identify an Obama doctrine?

“America sucks, and it’s all the racist teabaggers’ fault.”

malclave on March 4, 2011 at 4:39 PM

pseudonominus on March 4, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Back in the day, Berry Gordy probably wouldn’t have let him in the front door of the mansion up on Boston Boulevard. No rhythym, can’t dance…tooo white. /

coldwarrior on March 4, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Obama Doctrine on International Affairs:

1. Blame America First!!!

2. Run away and hide until a situation is resolved, then loudly claim to have supported the winning side all along.

landlines on March 4, 2011 at 4:42 PM

So this is what leadership from a Noble Peace Prize winner looks like.

WashJeff on March 4, 2011 at 4:42 PM

O/T: Janet Clownitano now wants to increase the “security fees” when flying…..Jeez, it’s not like the gas is going up, airline ticket prices going up, checked baggage charges are going up….

sicoit on March 4, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Thats the law of supply and demand. When the demand for security goes up, and the government controls the supply, the price can only go up.

Organized Crime Government Economics 101.

BobMbx on March 4, 2011 at 4:43 PM

So this is what leadership from a Noble Peace Prize winner looks like.

WashJeff on March 4, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Only one song on the Official POTUS I-Pad:

Kum Bay Ya

BobMbx on March 4, 2011 at 4:45 PM

I think Michelle Obama is the one running the country.

Fo realz

Key West Reader on March 4, 2011 at 4:47 PM

the dutch cant do shit. and our politicians and our stupid military advisers want ot be like them.they have never won a war and they never will, bunch of girly boys

rico101 on March 4, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Divide and conquer, domestic and international-with a card game called “RACE.”

ProudPalinFan on March 4, 2011 at 4:50 PM

The Obama Doctrine in one word: “Present”.

There are corollaries, such as keep America weak and irrelevant, apologize at every turn, bow to every dictator and offer to speak to the worst of them with no preconditions. But essentially, when things get critical, it boils down to “present”.

paul1149 on March 4, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Remember when the financial crash happened. All the news was how calm and deep thinking 0 was. Even then, all I could see was his fear of making a decision. Haven’t seen anything to change my mind about him in the last 2 1/2 years.

Oleta on March 4, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Obama Doctrine:

Part I: Wait to see what some one else says [or Sarah Palin Tweets] and say: “Me, TOO!”

Part II: But do it so much later that it’s become irrelevant, just as he has become on the world stage.

The !?BRITS?! are now leading the charge to reform the UN? Which is located where? And supported by whom (in large part)?

Speaking of Carter (nice transition, don’t you think), he did say one intelligent thing in the past couple of decades. When asked if he would have done anything differently during his presidency (speaking of his defeat), he said, “Send one more helicopter.” The debacle in the desert and a failed hostage rescue attempt painted him indelibly as weak and ineffective. At least he had the insight to see it for what it was and find some humor in it.

Can you imagine The Man Currently Playing the Part of President of the United States ever saying, “I sent a ferry to Lybia. I should have sent a battleship.”

Federal officers going into Mexico on drug interdiction business. My response to the Mexican government: “Fine. If our people can’t be armed in Mexico, then they won’t be going to Mexico.”

Anybody want to continue the “What he should’ve done” list? Because, I promise you, you will never hear those words come from this man’s mouth. Even speaking out of both sides of it at the same time.

IndieDogg on March 4, 2011 at 4:54 PM

The Obama Doctrine is to reduce American power and wealth in order to level the global playing field and thus create a strong global government.

Connie on March 4, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Obama’s Doctrine: I am the Nobel Prize genius of Smart Power, and those who don’t obey me are acting stupidly. There are too many stupid people in the world because of George W. Bush.

Steve Z on March 4, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Humility? NO way! Despite the picture with downcast eyes that is used to picture humility, much like the halo effects are used to project righteousness, he is the most pompous sneak in history. Louis XIV had rien on this man.

clnurnberg on March 4, 2011 at 5:01 PM

All Obama “doctrines” make liberal use of Ouija Boards, Tarot cards and crystal balls.

MayorDaley on March 4, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Anybody want to continue the “What he should’ve done” list? Because, I promise you, you will never hear those words come from this man’s mouth. Even speaking out of both sides of it at the same time.

IndieDogg on March 4, 2011 at 4:54 PM

So that’s the “Shoulda Woulda Coulda” Barack Obama Doctrine.

He’s so weak and pathetic it is literally embarrassing. Him.

Key West Reader on March 4, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Obama Doctrine? I think it’s face time. For him.

Hummer53 on March 4, 2011 at 5:03 PM

The obama Doctrine consists of three words:

“What just happened?”

evilned on March 4, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Obama Doctrine??? Hey, I’m trying to eat some waffles here!

MarkM on March 4, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Obama Doctrine???

$2oo bbl oil baby

darwin-t on March 4, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Obama Doctrine: BAA (Bow, Apologize, Appease)

If you have trouble remembering it, just think of the sound a sheep makes as it’s being led to slaughter.

AZCoyote on March 4, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Hopey Doctrine
===============

Social Justice…By Threatening the lives of CEO’s
and Republicans,by sending in the Goons,
and to spread Equalization(gaed only knows
what that means).

Attitude towards Females… that dare ask the questions
that lead to the truth,Hopey’s “Sweetie and Lipstick
on a pig” Doctrine.

Domestic Policy…
*******************

Class Warfare OverDrive/OverLoad,the Government is the Hero and Saviour of Leftist(American Mankind)NutJob MindSet,and
Unions are the True Power as to Americans Key to Job Creatio
n and Saving of the American Economy!

And,if your not in a Union,or are beholden,to one,your
scum,er,a scab,er,………….UNAmerican!

National Security
*****************

The Political Right,is a Threat to the Left,and if being a
Veteran,National Guard,Combat,Active,member of any Military
Branch,YOU WILL BE SCRUTENIZED as if,YOU WERE ON THE TERROR
LIST!!

All travelling Americans are a potential Threats,even if you
r Grandma and newborn are travelling within the convines of
all 50 States!

Foreign Policy
****************

Not really much or any Doctrine on this one,as John Bolton
has stated at CPAC 2011,if there was a Policy,he could crit
ices it,but,so far,it doesn’t exist,in any shape or form.

It seems to be a Policy,of Bowing,and followed by,an apology
of America’s existenance,going back to the first century,wh
ere it is not written,in the Koran,that America has caused
the Holy War,and with a Leftist perspective that America’s
mere presence,is a Jihady Production Factory that spews
out Suicidal Bombers,because,North America,er,USA,is a afron
t to Muslims!!

Financial Doctrine
******************

Well,according to Obama CheerLeaders,Robert Reich and Michae
l Moore all of your possessions,property,and cash,belongs to
the people,and the sooner you hand it over,the less of the
Social Justice Goons will visit you,with pitchforks/Torchs
and take it,er,the rest of it,er,what Hopey hasn’t already
taken.

Government knows best,and so,private sector will be controll
ed,taxed,regulated,to meet the demands of every Government
al department untill choked into submition!

Simply,you,and the company,will be unionized,wether you like
it or not,and therefore will benefit,the State,er,Government
controlling that sector of,and gawd only knows what that sec
tor totally entails!!!!

canopfor on March 4, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Obama Doctrine: BAA (Bow, Apologize, Appease)

If you have trouble remembering it, just think of the sound a sheep makes as it’s being led to slaughter.

AZCoyote on March 4, 2011 at 5:24 PM

AZCoyote:Nicely done,short and sweet BAA Doctrine!:)

canopfor on March 4, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Well, first we gotta be doctrin’ the unemployment numbers, then doctrin’ the poll data about healthcare….

James on March 4, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Obama Doctrine: Walk softly and carry a wet noodle.

novaculus on March 4, 2011 at 5:48 PM

SCORCHED EARTH !!!!!!

nimrod on March 4, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Palin got it mainly correct.

in what respect, ed?

she had absolutely no idea.

sesquipedalian on March 4, 2011 at 3:52 PM

You were much funnier at Captain’s Quarters.

Del Dolemonte on March 4, 2011 at 6:06 PM

sesquipedalian on March 4, 2011 at 3:52 PM

OK, I see no one else has helped you out with that Palin interview. Here are some Inconvenient Truths for you about it, thanks to the crew at Newsbusters.

A transcript of the unedited interview of Sarah Palin by Charles Gibson clearly shows that ABC News edited out crucial portions of the interview that showed Palin as knowledgeable or presented her answers out of context.

I couldn’t get the parts in bold to print correctly here so I will put the link below. However, Newsbusters found that
the first edit shows Palin responding about meeting with foreign leaders but this was actually in response to a question Gibson asked several questions earlier.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/p-j-gladnick/2008/09/13/abc-news-edited-out-key-parts-sarah-palin-interview#ixzz1Ffzd4tu6

Yep, Goebbels would be proud of what ABC did in this interview.

Del Dolemonte on March 4, 2011 at 6:17 PM

What is it? I’m pretty sure it looks something like this.

BKeyser on March 4, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Taqiyya, MSM Ignorance and GOP cowardice are an unbeatable combination.

Basilsbest on March 4, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Here is the ObaMao ME Doctrine (as if we hadn’t guessed it):
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/03/the_muslim_brotherhood_is_offi.html

onlineanalyst on March 4, 2011 at 8:13 PM

What is the Obama Doctrine?

Foreign Policy

Domestic Policy

BDU-33 on March 4, 2011 at 8:58 PM

If nothing else, we’ve seen the sesquipedelian doctrine:
1. Say something provably dumb.
2. Decline to even attempt to defend it.
3. Confronted with challenging facts, duck.

Palin handled that question well: other commentators pointed out at the time that it was unfairly broad, in that there were several components of the Bush foreign policy that could have been identified as the “Bush doctrine;” even in the edited-to-embarass version, Palin’s request for clarification is justified.

Nor yet have you offered a clear and concise version of an Obama doctrine.

Great job.

massrighty on March 4, 2011 at 9:03 PM

Thats the law of supply and demand. When the demand for security goes up, and the government controls the supply and legislates demand, the price can only go up.

BobMbx on March 4, 2011 at 4:43 PM

Fixed.

malclave on March 4, 2011 at 9:19 PM

The Obama Doctrine is to destroy the U.S. Constitution and hence the U.S.

Heckle on March 4, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Gadafi will not like us any better if we allow him to crush the rebellion against him any more than the Iranian’s dictators thought better of us when we did nothing while they murdered the Democrats of Iran that protested the stealing of the last presidential election.

KW64 on March 4, 2011 at 9:59 PM

The Obama Doctrine apparently demands that a president hide under his bed until the press drags him kicking and screaming from beneath it. After that… one just does whatever the polls indicate, regardless of whether that means 180 degree changes between differing polls on differing days.

Murf76 on March 4, 2011 at 11:00 PM

Anything that works well in theory but not in practice just means you’ve got yourself a bad theory. Theory is suppose to reflect reality, when it doesn’t its fantasy. Just look at AGW.

Fred 2 on March 4, 2011 at 11:43 PM

Didn’t Obama himself tell us his doctrine was:

Wimp-out To Fail???

landlines on March 5, 2011 at 10:41 AM

It doesn’t even work well in a theoretical environment unless you stack the deck with highly idealized people who bear no relationship to the animals we really are.

{o.o}

herself on March 5, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Oh please, all these revolting folks in the Middle East merely “cling to guns and religion” and are undeserving of Obama’s attention.

J_Crater on March 6, 2011 at 12:38 AM

Read Saul Alinsky, Marx, Mao, Lenin and you know precisely what his “doctrine” is. He and his kind have always thought they knew what was best for all people everywhere. They believe that they must tell us how to think, eat, drink, dress, drive, buy groceries while we pay the bills for their lavish and elitists life styles.
There are more millionaire Democrats in the House and Senate and yet they have the audacity to claim poverty. Worst of all, we have allowed it. Anyone who wants to see just what the progressive policies of the last sixty years have wrought, need to watch the hearings on the status of the states by their attorney generals. Talk about an eye opener. We are lost!

sharinlite on March 7, 2011 at 4:04 PM