Friday, May 30, 2014

Zakaria: 'Obama doctrine' is right for today

I doubt that Obama's foreign policy moves add up to a coherent doctrine; nevertheless, it's true that Obama does what most Americans want on any given foreign policy issue, which is, basically, not much.

The "problem" with Obama's popular approach to foreign policy, from the perspective of U.S. pundits and wonks, is that "doing what the public wants" is almost always the opposite of "leadership." Furthermore, the U.S. must "lead" on every major issue and geo-political crisis, say U.S. pundits; failing to be seen as "in-charge" automatically diminishes U.S. influence. 

They believe U.S. presidents are supposed to drag the public and Congress by the ears into foreign adventures if that's what's necessary; to them that's what being commander-in-chief is all about.

The fundamental danger of American overreach never crosses their minds. (We're seeing a tiny taste of it now in the VA scandal, with a system pushed beyond capacity, and a GOP Congress that has refused to spend more money on our troops in the name of fighting the deficit).

Considering that the media, academia and think tanks almost universally cheered on the Great War on Terror and the disastrous invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, they have little or no credibility left when it comes to telling the public they are wrong.

Of course I disagree with some of Obama's foreign policy moves, especially on Ukraine -- he should be sending military supplies at least -- but nothing Obama says or does makes me worry for our future the way Dubya did. 

"Prudence" is the operative word that skipped a few presidencies: from father over the head of Bubba and Dubya to Obama who cleaned up their imprudent messes....

By Fareed Zakaria
May 29, 2014 | Washington Post

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