The "Obama Doctrine" is just misguided dithering

Barack Obama's foreign policy is now bound to leave the world a more dangerous place than when he came to office. The so-called Obama doctrine is a manual for inaction which revolves around misguided thinking

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Taylor Dibbert
On 3 October 2015 08:39

In terms of world affairs, these are unnerving times. We’ve got Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, a migration crisis of epic proportions, and more. We’ve got Russian President Vladimir Putin looking like a modern-day Machiavelli.

And last, though certainly not least, we’ve got U.S. President Barack Obama dithering in the White House. The bipartisan concerns about Obama’s foreign policy are nothing new. People have been worried for quite some time.

People were worried before Obama pushed the Iran deal through as an executive agreement. They were worried before the shifts in U.S.-Cuba relations. And they were worried before Russia bombed anti-Assad forces in Syria.

What’s so unfortunate is that, in spite of Washington’s diverse array of miscalculations and blunders, things probably won’t get much better in the near-term.

A recent Reuters piece made this point succinctly:

Faced by the mounting setbacks, Obama will probably only make modest changes in strategy, according to current and former U.S. officials. That strongly suggests that Obama will leave some of the world’s most intractable conflicts to his successor when he leaves office in January 2017.

So, in the coming months we are likely to see only cosmetic change from the White House. That’s a scary prospect, although it shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with Obama’s incorrigible worldview. Let’s just be honest about this.

What have we actually learned?

As a minimum, it’s safe to say that the ‘Obama Doctrine’ isn’t much of a doctrine at all. It’s a manual for inaction which revolves around misguided thinking. It mandates that someone, anyone, besides the U.S. show global leadership. Simply put, it merits heavy criticism from both the left and the right.

The late Christopher Hitchens once said that, “history is a tragedy and not a morality tale.” That might be a nice way to frame recent trends in U.S. foreign policy.

The election and reelection of Obama remain major historical events. Obama’s certain to leave an indelible mark in the annals of world affairs, one that we forget at our peril.

Taylor Dibbert is a freelance writer and a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views expressed here are his alone. Follow him on Twitter @taylordibbert

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