Monday, September 8, 2014

Younge: Americans want U.S. power without cost or risk

Gary Younge is right, American's are schizo, post-Dubya, when it comes to the POTUS and foreign policy:

Obama’s apparent inability to make anything happen on the international stage is unnerving many. Big things keep taking place to which he appears to offer only incremental responses within a strategic void. [...]

Obama’s foreign policy approval ratings, once one of his strengths, are now pitifully low. According to a Pew research survey, more than half of Americans believe that he is insufficiently “tough”. This is partly presentational: Obama has always found showy rhetoric in the face of serious problems hokey. His deliberative style owes more to the constitutional law professor he once was than the leader of the armed forces he now is.

His reputation for “weakness” is also ironic given the number of people Obama has assassinated with drones. [...]

The public actually supports most of what Obama has done. Polls show that a majority of Americans back air strikes against Isis and troop withdrawals from Iraq; the use of drones to kill “suspected terrorists” abroad; and overwhelmingly prefer sanctions over military action against Russia. A plurality believe that Obama is removing troops from Afghanistan at the right pace. But a president is more than the sum of his policies.

As I've said before, I don't think there is an Obama Doctrine, besides, I suppose, "Don't do stupid shit"... whatever, that is, Obama and his inner circle consider to be stupid.

But does every President need a doctrine?  That's a separate question. But one must question how much freedom any POTUS has to make his own strategic choices without succumbing to policy inertia of past presidents. Just look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia... The choices and facts on the ground were already made over years if not decades before. But I digress....

Almost certainly what Obama is planning now against Islamic State is not doctrinal; it's reactive to media and public pressure after ISIS killers publicly cut off the heads of American hostages and persecuted Arab Christians. He wouldn't be the first president pushed by the public into military action, but it's certainly no way to run a foreign policy.

By Gary Younge
September 7, 2014 | Guardian

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