Series: "The Obama Doctrine"

The Pathos of the Rational Leader: Goldberg’s Obama

How can a nation survive, can its institutions function, can it prosper and triumph, can the People experience or aspire to satisfaction without recourse at some point to such “tribalism”? The President cannot answer, because no one can.

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism, The Exception Tagged with: , ,

On Obama Doctrine Thesis #4 (The world cannot afford…)

The world cannot afford the diminution of U.S. power, but U.S. power is diminishing.

Posted in Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: ,

“incredibly piss poor leadership” (Obama Doctrine Notes)

Obama seemed to be hoping that a legacy of American “credibility” on such threats would be sufficient to make this one work, without acknowledging – perhaps according to all the best and latest political scientific critiques of “credibility” – the possible damage to American credibility that his own policies had reinforced.

Posted in Comments Elsewhere, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: , ,

“no good options” (Obama Doctrine Notes)

“No good options” at some point becomes a rule of moral abdication – a declaration of incapacity to distinguish between worse and better, or of paralysis. Obama himself seems to oscillate between the two views: On the one hand, since there is no good option, judgment has to be suspended, but on the other hand he wants to view or wants us to accept inaction or maximal distance as the better option, so “as good as we can get if not perfect.”

Posted in Comments Elsewhere, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with:

Understanding American Interests (Steven Heydemann in Washington Post)

“It is sadly ironic that the president’s commitment to inaction has undermined his vision of an international system in which military restraint and a smaller U.S. footprint would produce a more stable and peaceful international order.”

Posted in Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: ,

If Obama Had Followed Through (Hof on the Red Line)

“…[H]ad it laid waste to Assad’s air force, field artillery, Scud missiles, and rockets, the strike would have emptied Assad’s victory speech of substantive content. Yes, the chemicals would have remained in place, and perhaps so too the Assad regime. But instruments of mass terror would have been neutralized, the migrant crisis afflicting Europe might have been averted, and tens of thousands of people now dead would still be alive.”

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: ,

The Negation of Bush to Equivalent Effect: TC Wittes on the Obama Doctrine

“It is a tragic irony: A president elected and reelected on a platform of ending wars in the Middle East has reproduced, at the end of his presidency, the very situation he inherited, decried, and swore to avoid: an escalating war against a vague terrorist enemy, with no geographic boundaries, no clear military or strategic objectives, and no principles or policies that might stop the slide down this slippery slope.”

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with:

Philip Stephens: Fatalism taints the Obama doctrine – FT.com

“What is missing from the Obama doctrine is a strategic view of the role of US leadership in sustaining global order. Analysis drifts into an excuse for paralysis, but inaction carries as many dangers as intervention. Mr Obama’s realism bleeds into fatalism. To observe that the US cannot solve every problem in a disordered world should not be to conclude it is powerless. Disorder is contagious and does not respect neat lines drawn around core national interests.”

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with:

The Melancholic Anti-Interventionist

If the systematic application of the desired policy leaves even its proponents bitterly unsatisfied with and haunted by the tragedies and catastrophes it either produces or does nothing to avert, then its prospects may be dim. The main question may be which will prove intolerable first, the growing dissatisfaction, or the next catastrophe.

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with:

Defense and Defense Mechanisms

Diehl assesses the Obama Doctrine, or Jeffrey Goldberg’s Obama’s Obama Doctrine, as, in a word, neurotic – as much a psychological construct or defense mechanism as a policy – enabling the President minimize the importance of any setbacks, the alternative being emotionally intolerable.

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: , ,

Noted & Quoted

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And this programmer suggested a way to avoid user input all together:

Eventually, programmers on Reddit started making fully-functioning, interactive versions of the awful forms, like this and this and this. Someone even created one out of the classic game Snake. The meme hasn’t stopped for weeks now, and iterations of it seem to be growing more detailed and elaborate.

Comment →
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Trump actually congratulated Erdogan on the outcome. Trump apparently thought it was a good thing that, despite all the flaws in the process, a bare majority of Turkey’s citizens voted to strengthen their populist leader. I don’t think any other post-Cold War president would have congratulated a democratic ally that held a flawed referendum leading to a less democratic outcome. This is not that far off from Trump congratulating Putin on a successful referendum result in Crimea if that event had been held in 2017 rather than 2014.

Public disquiet and behind-the-scenes pressure on key illiberal allies is an imperfect policy position. It is still a heck of a lot more consistent with America’s core interests than congratulating allies on moving in an illiberal direction. In congratulating Erdogan, Trump did the latter.

For all the talk about Trump’s moderation, for all the talk about an Axis of Adults, it’s time that American foreign policy-watchers craving normality acknowledge three brute facts:

  1. Donald Trump is the president of the United States;
  2. Trump has little comprehension of how foreign policy actually works;
  3. The few instincts that Trump applies to foreign policy are antithetical to American values.
Comment →
(0)

He sensed that the public wanted relief from the burdens of global leadership without losing the thrill of nationalist self-assertion. America could cut back its investment in world order with no whiff of retreat. It would still boss others around, even bend them to its will...

There was, to be sure, one other candidate in the 2016 field who also tried to have it both ways—more activism and more retrenchment at the same time. This was, oddly enough, Hillary Clinton... Yet merely to recall Clinton’s hybrid foreign-policy platform is to see how pallid it was next to Trump’s. While she quibbled about the TPP (which few seemed to believe she was really against), her opponent ferociously denounced all trade agreements—those still being negotiated, like the TPP, and those, like NAFTA and China’s WTO membership, that had long been on the books. “Disasters” one and all, he said. For anyone genuinely angry about globalization, it was hard to see Clinton as a stronger champion than Trump. She was at a similar disadvantage trying to compete with Trump on toughness. His anti-terrorism policy—keep Muslims out of the country and bomb isis back to the Stone Age—was wild talk, barely thought through. But for anyone who really cared about hurting America’s enemies, it gave Trump more credibility than Clinton’s vague, muddled talk of “safe zones” ever gave her.

Comment →

State of the Discussion

+ Wade, your last paragraph is crucial to your argument. Certainly it expresses economically the source of the weight of a country's foreign policy, and [. . .]
Jeffrey Goldberg: The Obama Doctrine, R.I.P. – The Atlantic
+ Not sure where you got the idea that I ever wrote “[President Trump] doesn’t know what he’s doing!!!!!!" - bob's idea for a possible rallying [. . .]
Jeffrey Goldberg: The Obama Doctrine, R.I.P. – The Atlantic
Wade McKenzie
Comments this threadCommenter Archive
+ The conversation that you and Bob were having at the time that I wrote my comment had everything to do with the recent missile strike [. . .]
Jeffrey Goldberg: The Obama Doctrine, R.I.P. – The Atlantic

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