As I understand it, the Obama Doctrine is (these are my words):
We (America) can preemptively execute people we deem to be a national security threat even in allied countries without notice. In doing so, we accept collateral deaths of unknown people will occur. This targeted execution is done without any form of process beyond Executive approval. And we may or may not notify our ally or Congress before the strike.
Generally speaking, it is accepted that a central part of such a doctrine would emphasize negotiation and collaboration rather than confrontation and unilateralism in international affairs. This policy has been praised by some as a welcome change from the more interventionist Bush Doctrine. Critics, such as former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, have described it as overly idealistic and naÃ¯ve, promoting appeasement of the USA’s enemies. Others have drawn attention to its radical departure from not only the policies of the Bush administration but many former presidents as well. Meanwhile, additional political pundits have disagreed entirely, accusing Obama of continuing the policies of his predecessor.
Blowing people up from space can hardly be called “emphasizing negotiation and collaboration rather than confrontation.” To be blunt, the Wikipedia entry on the Obama Doctrine is WILDLY wrong. The Wikipedia text above does not in any way match up reality as I see it except for the “continuing the policies of his predecessor” part. Why? Perhaps the aggressive narrative doesn’t work well for the 2012 election. It turns out our current President CAN answer the “call at 3 AM” and he answers it more aggressively than any previous President.
I have made no secret that I have called President Obama “Bush 44” since he was elected. You keep the same economic and military advisors as your predecessor, you repeat the same bailouts, and (SURPRISE!) your politics and results are identical. There has been no “change.” Which makes the screaming critics look silly. The only thing you could possibly say changed is Obamacare (as the critics call it) which is watered down to be similar to the policy Texas has for Auto Insurance. (Wow, radical departure. Hold me back. I can’t handle the change. And can someone give me $500 for the last uninsured guy who hit one of our family cars please!? I guess he didn’t read the law.)
Don’t get me wrong. As a very proud American I am glad the evil one is dead. I know I am supposed to forgive and everything, but I’m gonna have to let God handle that one as I am incapable of forgiving such a weak and cowardly monster. And I never heard of the guy we got in Yemen, but I have to assume he deserved it based on media reports. (Disclaimer: I also believed and supported the invasion of Iraq at the time. The turning point for me was when General Powell addressed the UN because I trust Powell. Heck, I still wish he would run for President.)
What started this post on the aggressiveness of the Obama Doctrine? On August 29th I posted a link to FB regarding criticism of President Obama that I believe wasn’t Republican or Fox or Tea Party punditry speak but actual legitimate intelligent criticism. My original text associated with the link I posted was:
Many times my conservative friends criticize our President with punditry-speak & incorrect-facts… BUT, here is some legitimate FACT based criticism of true problems with our current President.
In response, one of the comments I received on Facebook from X (you can identify yourself in the comments and I’ll update this post but I did not want to assume it was OK to blog your identity) begins with
Intellectuals have great difficulty understanding what makes our political/economic system work because very little of what makes it tick is cerebral in nature. Obama is a failure as president for reasons that can’t be explained by tearing apart public policy matters and breaking down statistical data. He will not succeed at rebooting our economy because of what’s in his heart – he does not believe our economic system has virtue. He sees capitalism as unfair, harsh and too random in its distribution of power. Further, he has contempt for the kind of people that make our economic system successful (unless they choose to appear to subjugate themselves to him, as Warren Buffet and Jeffrey Imelt have.) Obama not only fails to inspire our captains of industry and aspiring entrepreneurs, he makes them feel fearful and discouraged.
Lots of philosophy there, but perhaps not framed in a historical context or anything close to quantitative. My response (with a few corrections in wording and links added) follows:
I would say at this point my conservative friends agree on that point. What is also interesting is that my progressive friends are also hugely disappointed because they did have “hope.” And that hope has not been realized.
I am greatly bothered by the “noise” that prevents looking at larger policy issues with objective eyes. Example: A preemptive military strike in an allied country (without telling them) on the other side of the globe to kill Bin Laden is great news in the US. But wait, you can’t call that part of the:
- the Monroe Doctrine (keep the Europeans out), or
- the Roosevelt Corollary (we can intervene in Latin America if their checks bounce) or
- the Bush Doctrine (preventive war is OK if we think you are a threat like Iraq).
No, this is a new policy that is called “the Obama Doctrine” by the media. And like Roosevelt and Bush, Obama has extended the original Monroe Doctrine on our use of military force.
The challenge is we don’t have an explicitly written “Obama Doctrine.” But from a military perspective, our current President is in fact the most aggressive Presidents we have ever had. Thus when the right calls him weak, when his actions speak otherwise, we prevent educated dialog about the limits of the military aspects of the Obama Doctrine.
Can we drone strike in France a mosque if we know the leader has anti-US beliefs? Technically within the Bush Doctrine that would be allowed, but it would be considered war on France, a nation-state. Not good. Yet, it would fit within the Obama Doctrine from a military perspective based on our relationship and actions in Pakistan.
I’m simply pointing out that the “Obama is weak” narrative pushed by the right is designed for an election campaign. Yet it does NOT agree with the facts and prevents educated dialog about our current foreign policy.
While working on this post I saw this article today by Cheney saying the President should apologize to Bush. In the quote Cheney is referring to the drone strike in Yemen to kill an American Terrorist living abroad. From the CNN article:
“I think it was a very good strike. I think it was justified,” Cheney told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” But “I’m waiting for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago when they criticized us for ‘overreacting’ to the events of 9/11.”
The Obama administration has “clearly … moved in the direction of taking robust action when they feel it is justified,” Cheney said.
In summary, a few key points to emphasize:
- The Obama Doctrine is MORE aggressive than the Bush Doctrine. Agree or don’t agree, but let’s at least talk about the Obama Doctrine or ask for a written copy before we go and launch drones over Sweden.
- The expansion of the Bush Doctrine by the Obama Doctrine suggests to me that in this case the former VP is right. If President Obama is doing not only the same thing but more, he probably should apologize at least privately to W.
- Republican pundits need to stop the “weak” narrative to describe the current President if they want to have any hope of having a chance in the next election. You can’t use that paint-brush successfully on the guy who killed the devil.