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Some of the more thoughtful conservative critics of President Obama's foreign policy posit that he has no strategy for the United States. They frequently say that the United States is "weak" and that the nation's posture toward foreign events is "adrift." A few years ago I wrote about President's Obama's foriegn policy by also noting that it was lacking an overall doctrine or Grand Strategy. For me, at least, this was good thing. A feature, not a bug:

You'll notice a commonality: Whenever a president gets a doctrine named after himself, the United States ends up in a messy, unnecessary war. Furthermore, it overcommits our resources and prestige, and sometimes our very lives, to the grand designs of what are sometimes megalomaniacs with too much power. We are better off without a doctrine.

That is why I am quite glad President Obama doesn't appear to have one. He handles each foreign policy situation on a case-by-case basis, carefully balancing U.S. interests and human interests as they appear. There is no philosophy to build on, nor any fundamental belief to adhere to. This allows the president to be flexible rather than, well...doctrinaire. I am not necessarily saying the president is making the correct decision in each matter nor am I saying he is making all the wrong ones. I am saying that he hasn't boxed himself into a one-size-fits-all approach and that therefore he is more likely to make the correct one.

You'll note in the video above or the transcript, in which the president is updating the press on his actions with respect to the situation in Crimea, that the president considers flexibility a fundamental asset in handling international relations:
According to my guidance, the State Department has also put in place restrictions on the travel of certain individuals and officials.  These decisions continue our efforts to impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea.  And they also give us the flexibility to adjust our response going forward based on Russia’s actions.
Please read below the fold for more on this story.

Closer analysis over the years uncovered something in the president's foreign policy repertoire I didn't expect: a doctrine of sorts!

A brief perusal of recent foreign policy of events under Obama's presidency reveal a quiet doctrine, not trumpeted on high with lofty rhetoric and chest thumping, but a doctrine that is consistently practiced nonetheless. Furthermore, it has proven cheaper, more successful at advancing American interests, and has steadied the nation's standing in the world. Even among those who have good reason to fear American Power. It is a foreign policy that fits the times. It is a leaner form of American global engagement: realistic, flexible, cost-minded, and places diplomacy, not military force as its central component. When military force is used, it is done covertly, secretively, and most important, briefly. Beset with a public that is war weary and more concerned with domestic challenges, the Obama Administration's foreign policy still seeks to preserve American Internationalism and avoid isolationism. However, it is an Internationalism sans the substantial costs in blood and treasure that more ambitious doctrines in America's past have demonstrated.

During the 2009 crisis in Honduras, President Obama called the military coup there illegal, but insisted on resolving the matter through negotiation and diplomacy through the Organization of American States. This proved the correct course of action despite calls among conservatives for stronger, heavy handed intervention. During the 2011 Arab Spring and the upheaval in Egypt, President Obama maintained a position of quiet study while watching events unfold, moving adeptly to deal with the situation as it occurred rather than immediately buttressing Mubarak as many conservatives demanded. Mubarak was doomed, as he had lost support among the people and in the military. Had Obama followed conservative advice, the US would find itself supporting an unloved dictator in the Middle East, yet again. Instead, the president correctly let events unfold without risking a great deal of military power or money.

However, President Obama will use military power when it suits his view of American interests. In the 2011 Libyan Civil War, President Obama chose to intervene militarily in concert with other NATO allies. However, American engagement was brief, limited to special forces and naval air power. No American lives were lost and there was minimal financial expense. The aftermath of the Libyan policy is debatable. That country today is a tremendous mess. President Obama was quite clear he wanted the United States to play a very limited role in Libya's rebuilding. But if the goal was to remove the Gaddafi regime from power, that was accomplished very quickly and without tremendous cost. That was most certainly not the case with Iraq and the lofty yet unattainable grand strategy of the Bush Doctrine. The president's use of military power is designed on small footprint activity: heavy reliance on special forces and covert operations, the use of unmanned aerial drones, and the use of Naval and Marine tactical capability rather than the more massive war postured Army and Air Force. Of course, the signature military accomplishment under President Obama was the killing of Osama bin Laden by special operations forces. That is the quintessential example of the Obama Doctrine on the use of force: cheap, quick, and lethal.

To be fair, President Obama hasn't always been judicious with force, as his large and completely failed buildup of forces in Afghanistan has demonstrated. That was a classic case of a president inheriting a situation and continuing it rather than ending it. While the president insisted on a measured, steady, and complete withdrawal from Iraq, he did not do so initially in Afghanistan despite that war's historic length. The president did correct this and has recently announced it is considering complete exit from that country. If there is one exception to the president's doctrine, it is his Afghanistan surge. He has ended that and continues to withdraw forces. If the president follows through and completes a total military exit from Afghanistan, his mandate and rationale for becoming president in the first place will be fulfilled. But more importantly, he will have set in place an high standard for future military adventures. It makes for a stark contrast with George W. Bush and his grand ambitions for nation building in the Middle East along with his failure to capture bin Laden. Billions spent, many lives lost, total waste. In contrast, we could have taken him out with a small team of special forces and some old school intelligence work.

In Ukraine, the president is dealing with the situation as is, rather than trying to further some grand strategy against Moscow. Conservative critics wish to make Russia, for some reason, the number strategic enemy of the United States simply because Russia has a brash, tough guy as its leader. They wish the United States to make Russia into a Jeffersonian democracy, and limit Russia's influence in Eastern Europe. But this is a very stupid way to make policy, as the president is demonstrating. Russia is the least of the United States' strategic problems. China, robust, expansionary, advancing, and gifted by a leadership class that is adroit, intelligent, united and determined to make China number one is far more dangerous as a potential adversary. Russia's incursion into Ukraine is a sign of Russia's weakness, not President Obama's. Quite properly, the President is right to use a few limited diplomacy tools against Russia for show, but otherwise pay little attention its foray into Ukraine. Russia will soon find out that Putin has screwed up for reasons that have nothing to do with the West or the United States. Instead, the president is quite properly strengthening American military capability in the Pacific where there are significant American interests and security issues, especially in the new realm of cyber. Ukraine is not the main game. It isn't even a sideshow.

Overall, what we have seen from this president is what one could call a return to classic internationalism, with its reliance on diplomacy and soft power tools. But there is a notable difference in the way President Obama operates that should serve is a guide for future presidents: let events play out before reacting and maintain flexibility. Avoid military occupations and nation building. When using force, make it quick and lethal. Critics may call this leading from behind, but it is intelligent for a great power with limited resources to behave this way. The United States no longer has the wealth or appetite to "bear any burden" at any cost, at any place on the globe, for any amount of time. The nation has numerous domestic problems that are weakening it at its core, from crumbling infrastructure to an underfunded and overpriced education system. The nation can't afford grand global ambitions without the internal strength and resources to back them up. In Ukraine, and everywhere else for the foreseeable future, the United States should maintain the Obama Doctrine toward the world: no grand ambitions, patience, flexible diplomacy, and light military engagement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Have you ever heard of Robert Farley? (33+ / 0-)

    He's a professor of international relations and a blogger at Lawyers, Guns, and Money Blog, and he's been writing quite a bit recently about how the lack of a Grand Strategy under the Obama administration is a good thing.

    Here.

    And here.

    I agree completely. We need to adhere to our values and advance our interests, but there is no one defining framework that tells us how to do that, at least not during this particular historical period.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:08:13 AM PDT

  •  I think this is an exellent analysis. (21+ / 0-)

    I was listening to Diane Rehm on NPR the other day (she's on vacation, it was hosted by Tom Gjelten) and the panel was parroting GOP talking points about the President seeming "weak" on the Ukraine issue. Bullshit.

    I agree that it is in deed a sign of Russia's weakness, not ours. Very much like Iraq and Afghanistan was a sign of Bush's impotence.

    There is a lot I have to disagree with when it comes to the President, but frankly I think his common-sense, mostly non-interventionist foreign policy approach has been highly successful and something future Presidents could, and should, look to emulate.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:13:02 AM PDT

    •  Non-interventionist? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass

      Have you been paying attention over the last six years?

      •  Yes, I have been. Perhaps I should say (4+ / 0-)

        less interventionist than his predecessors and those who ran against him, including Hillary Clinton, whom we have evidently annointed as the next President. She eats war for breakfast.

        Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

        by commonmass on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:21:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, Clinton and Gates did a real number on (0+ / 0-)

          Obama Administration policy in Asia, which is, at this point, an complete mess they are now trying to mop-up with little progress.

          Which is kind of curious in it's absence in discussion on this thread.

          Obama's one major Foreign Policy initiative, the so-called "Pivot to Asia" (now renamed "rebalancing") gets not one mention here nor does the status of his Trans-Pacific Partnership or European trade agreements get a singe mention save my own.

          All we seem to be considering here is whether his tactical (and often reactive) approach is incredibly brilliant or not.

          But you are right; Dems can and should do better than Clinton, but will they?

          No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

          by koNko on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 06:07:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Good post (21+ / 0-)

    Obama's foreign policy is hallmarked, for the most part, with a focus on US interests and common sense.

    Like him, I have required a rethinking of some of my policy preferences, in Afghanistan and on drones.

    Personally I think he has largely been a very good foreign policy President.

  •  "soft power tools" or "velvet hammer" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Armando, commonmass
    Overall, what we have seen from this president is what one could call a return to classic internationalism, with its reliance on diplomacy and soft power tools. But there is a notable difference in the way President Obama operates that should serve is a guide for future presidents: let events play out before reacting and maintain flexibility. Avoid military occupations and nation building. When using force, make it quick and lethal.
    2 oz Cointreau® orange liqueur
    2 oz Tia Maria® coffee liqueur
    2 oz half-and-half

    Pour all ingredients into a highball glass filled with ice cubes, and serve.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:13:52 AM PDT

  •  Wait, so we're not getting a WW3? (4+ / 0-)

    First Jesus didn't return and then the world didn't end in 2012 and now we're not even getting a global thermal  nuclear war?

    Well, there's still hope for an asteroid/comet collision and/or a zombie apocalypse.  

  •  If I really need to Know a Democratic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg

    POTUS' foreign policy when it come to events like Syria and Crimea-- all I need to do is go back and read Bush's doctrine/script.

    they are the same. the same hypocritical blustering and sabre rattling about what other nations can and cannot do, the same "do as we say, not as we do", the same let's move our expensive, impressive aircraft carriers into the general area, the same let's have some joint air force exercises in a nearby allied nation.

    and BTW, Obama's foreign policy is not a big priority for 99% of the voters out there.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:15:54 AM PDT

  •  In today's realpolitik, the only people guaranteed (5+ / 0-)

    to win are corporatists. Just ask France.  

    This is the major problem with Obama's lack-of-doctrine; GDP and the Money Men ultimately are the power brokers.

    •  The "power brokers" were behind grand strategy. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, Gooserock, ahumbleopinion

      The Monroe Doctrine, where we get to be the hegemony in the western hemisphere, was a grand strategy that the business interests strongly supported.

      Same with anti-socialism during the Cold War.

      Same with the neoconservative vision under Bush.

      If anything, letting Mubarak and ben Ali and compliant oil dictator Gadhaffi fall runs contrary to the traditional business interests' foreign policy.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:01:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a polite way of saying he does nothing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mickT, hmi
    Overall, what we have seen from this president is what one could call a return to classic internationalism, with its reliance on diplomacy and soft power tools.
    I am not sure if this is because he does not know what to do or is afraid to do something that he might be criticized for, but it's not a "policy" of any kind.

    "Tsk, Tsk" and "The World Community does not accept this" means little to Putin, a former KGB chief and oligarch.   Our best response is to give a billion bucks to the Ukraine so that it can pay for the gas it buys from Putin?   Please.

    The next think you know, China will be in Taiwan, and we will do nothing but shaking our heads and watching it on cable news.  

    You can get to the top by heading for the bottom. - R. Lewis

    by SpamNunn on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:21:21 AM PDT

  •  You mention Obama's doctrine, but notably.... (8+ / 0-)

    his doctrine is not a strategy.

    It's a set of tactics.

    A strategy is a plan to solve a problem, a road map for getting from here to there. To promulgate a grand geopolitical strategy is to believe that there is a unified "there" that we should pursue; that the pursuit of that one goal should define, or at least play the dominant role in, our foreign policy; and that the actions we take in the foreign policy realm should be organized around pursuing that goal.

    Tactics, or doctrines, are different from that. They're ways of acting, and don't tell us about ultimate goals.

    It is true that the Obama administration has adopted certain tactics, and rejected certain others.

    It is also true that they have abandoned the pursuit of a unified grand strategy, and deal with individual situations in their own terms.

    My point here is that those are two distinct, though related, developments.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:23:35 AM PDT

    •  If conservatives didn't hate him so much ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, joe from Lowell, chuckvw

      they might be able to more correctly point out what you did; that Obama does not have a foreign policy strategy. Which he doesn't.

      I'm a burgeoning Washingtonian isolationist, so I've got no real problem with that. The issue is that by accepting realpolitik, Obama painted yet another bulls eye on himself for conservatives and our idjit punditry. He would have saved himself some anguish if he just would have spent the capital explaining himself to the country.

      •  ODS is alive and well on both sides of the aisle (12+ / 0-)

        No amount of "explaining himself to the country" would make a dent in the visceral loathing basically all people on the right and some on the left have for this President.  And it would not remove the "bulls eye."  His being alive and in power is bulls eye enough.

        "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

        by SottoVoce on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:34:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Moderate Republicans should love him. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw

          Just like they should have loved Bill Clinton.

          I'm sorry, but you can't be a "free trader" and a real Democrat.

          Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

          by commonmass on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:50:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My comment isn't really about his policies, (3+ / 0-)

            as a free trader (or someone who over-uses spy networks or drones, or is too cozy with Goldman Sachs, to offer three other troublesome examples).  It's more a response to the commenter's suggestion that if he would only "explain himself to the country" his rocky relationship to his critics would be solved.  But that's simply not true.  On the right, one only need look to Congress to see that anything he likes is instantly shot down, no matter how benign, "all-American" or in line with the previous GOP position on the issue/appointment/policy.  On the left, one needn't even leave Daily Kos: just read the responses to his Weekly Address.  It's highly amusing; he cannot say anything right, full stop.  

            "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

            by SottoVoce on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:27:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  THERE ARE 0, NADA, NONE republican moderates. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            commonmass

            In a globalized world we need to focus on fair trade, where our labor force can compete as opposed to free trade where our workers are part of a race to the bottom.

            •  Abso freaking lutely. (0+ / 0-)

              Our likely next Governor (Mike Michaud, D-ME 02) and even Susan Collins (ME-R) gave a big press conference up in Millinocket at the New Balance factory to highlight the harm it would do to workers if the Pacific treaty went through.

              That's about as bipartisan as you can get, and it's a repudiation of the President's economic agenda. And I approve of what they did there.

              Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

              by commonmass on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:53:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry. I don't give Obama a pass for not being (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw

          a politician and explaining this stuff. It doesn't matter that the h8ters are going to hate him---that's the price of being a politician.

          What he can't afford to do is sit on his hands and be a policy technician for the rest of his term. He should have learned that lesson after the ACA sausage-fest in 2009. But, frankly, I'm pissing in the wind about that ... he's shown us in no uncertain terms that he's no going to be a president who feels pressure to communicate a policy vision unless he's personally at risk. It's just who he is, IMHO.

      •  But he hasn't embraced realpolitik. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gurnt

        Realpolitik isn't the same thing as rejecting a grand strategy, which isn't the same thing as isolationism. Isolationism itself is a grand strategy, and it at least as grounded (at least in its leftist varieties) in ideas as in material interests

        The realpolitik thing to do during the Egyptian Arab Spring would have been to go to the mat for "our son of a bitch" Mubarak. To treat his overthrow by a coalition that mainly included much-less-pro-American groups was a rejection of realpolitik.

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:26:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Obama as pragmatic and empiricist? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, chuckvw

      In his responses to certain crises, yes. But I'm not ready to believe it in this instance until it's demonstrated his administration has not been pushing NATO expansion in Ukraine and the Caucasus.

      •  So you need to prove a negative? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zizi

        And if that negative isn't proven, then you're going to go with an affirmative claim, for which you don't issue a demand for proof, as your default?

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:28:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Did the Obama Administration decide (0+ / 0-)

          a few months ago to meddle in Ukrainian politics in order to give "a little push," seeing an opportunity to effect a regime change and bring Ukraine into NATO? What was the reason McFaul suddenly left Moscow? What was the context behind the leaked Nuland-Pyatt conversation about picking a new government for Ukraine?

          No one is yet asking questions about these matters, so until they're examined and some explanations offered I'm going to hold off celebrating Obama as a realist immune to ideological prejudice re: Russia and Ukraine.

          I have some suspicions, but I'm holding off on judgment either way until we start getting some facts.  

  •  President Obama struck a perfect note post-Crimea (6+ / 0-)

    He rejected the silly impulse of the media and GOP to frame this as a pissing match between two men. Instead, Russia would face consequences from the community of nations, the G8, etc. It's exactly right.

    And I give him credit for Iran and Libya which he's handled quite well. I'll mark Syria as a success too, even though he and Kerry seemed hell-bent for intervention initially. They maneuvered(stumbled?) into a passable diplomatic solution. So credit for that.

    I disagree with Honduras, tho. I loved Obama's initial condemnation of the takeover, but there was no follow-up. The WH didn't even call for Zelaya's return.

    The Organisation of American States, the Rio Group (most of Latin America) and the UN general assembly have all called for the "immediate and unconditional return" of Zelaya.

    ....

    But at a press conference later that day, Clinton was asked whether "restoring the constitutional order" in Honduras meant returning Zelaya himself. She would not say yes.

    Why such reluctance to call openly for the immediate and unconditional return of an elected president, as the rest of the hemisphere and the UN has done? One obvious possibility is that Washington does not share these goals.

    Weisbrot

    .........................................................................

    •  I wasn't happy with the Honduras (6+ / 0-)

      position either.

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:50:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That move reeked of Reagan, frankly. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dclawyer06, chuckvw

      In general, our evolution on matters of Central America has been extremely slow.

      Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

      by commonmass on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:52:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reagan would've knocked him off... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass, poco, chuckvw, joe from Lowell

        I think Obama was generally angered by the coup---which is reflected by his strong statement. But the foreign policy establishment had it in for Zelaya. And they usually get what they want.

        •  I think that is an accurate assessment. n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dclawyer06, chuckvw

          Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

          by commonmass on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:08:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The right-wing, out-of-power FP establishment did. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dclawyer06

          As always happens in a Latin American coup, Otto Reich had all sorts of connections to what happened.

          But Otto Reich isn't in the State Department anymore. That particular "establishment" had to go free-booting this time, because they weren't getting any help from the administration or State Department.

          Art is the handmaid of human good.

          by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:06:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They got their [relative] silence... (0+ / 0-)

            And that ain't nuthin...

            •  That word "relative" is doing an awful lot of work (0+ / 0-)

              You know, I've been paying attention to American politics for a long time. I've been paying attention to American foreign policy in Latin American for a long time.

              To refer to the Obama State Department's denunciations of the Honduran coup as "relative silence" is pretty implausible, if you know anything about that history.

              Art is the handmaid of human good.

              by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:30:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I watched the situation in Honduras closely... (0+ / 0-)

                And I can tell you, when the US denounces a coup as unlawful but---pointedly and repeatedly---refuses to call for the return of those deposed we send a message. Loud and clear.

                I guarantee the usurpers heard it.
                I sure did.

                •  But we did call for his return. (0+ / 0-)

                  You're clearly wrong about following the situation in Honduras closely, if you don't know the information included in the very link I just gave you:

                  U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was illegal and would set a "terrible precedent" of transition by military force unless it was reversed.

                  "We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there," Obama told reporters after an Oval Office meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

                  ...
                  Obama said he would work with the Organization of American States and other international institutions to restore Zelaya to power and "see if we can resolve this in a peaceful way."

                  Think about this: you think that you've been following the situation in Honduras closely, to the point where you can criticize the administration's response, and you don't even know what that response is.

                  What does "following closely" amount to, to you? Reading "Narco News?"

                  Art is the handmaid of human good.

                  by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:10:17 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Read your own fucking link... (0+ / 0-)

                    The WH did not characterize Zelaya's overthrow as a coup, not formally. They were busy sending mixed messages, which must've been a relief to the thugs who carried out the plot.

                    From your link:

                    Despite Obama's comments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration was not formally designating the ouster as a military coup for now, a step that would force a cut-off of most U.S. aid to Honduras.

                    Under U.S. law, no aid -- other than for the promotion of democracy -- may be provided to a country whose elected head of government has been toppled in a military coup.

                    IOW, ignore the plain meaning of the speech Obama just gave. They get to cloak themselves in a noble aura while doing very little. The appearance of principle.

                    I wonder what message that sent to Micheletti and crew?
                    Don't answer, I've had enough of your bullshit.

                    •  Wrong again. They called it an illegal coup. (0+ / 0-)

                      What your quote says is that they didn't call it a military coup - which is exactly what I said. They called it an illegal coup.

                      Anyway, I see you're running away from your claim that they didn't call for Zelaya's return. What's the matter, that one didn't work out for you, so it goes down the memory hole?

                      I do love the way that what Obama said, or didn't say, was the  most important thing in the world when you wrote your last comment, but now, when you see him saying something you were too ignorant to bother knowing he said, it suddenly turns into empty symbolism.

                      Why should I pay the slightest attention to what messages they were sending, and what you assume anyone took from them? You don't even have your facts right, but that's clearly not something that's going to stop you.

                      You throw a little "I've had enough of your bullshit" tantrum over your shoulder, but you're still wrong, and anyone reading this thread knows it.

                      Art is the handmaid of human good.

                      by joe from Lowell on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:25:46 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  Issue a demand, and then what? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gurnt, zizi

      If the Honduran coup regime refused, then what would the Obama administration do?

      And remember, Zelaya was term-limited out of office (one of the reasons they arguments in favor of the coup were so weak), and the clock was ticking. We were going to demand the reinstallation of someone constitutionally forbidden from occupying that office?

      When the OAS issues a statement, it's a nice symbolic statement of principles. When the US does so, we're expected to actually back it up with action, and the US was (rightly) not going to take any action to impose our choice of President on Honduras.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:32:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Use the same tools we're using to punish... (0+ / 0-)

        Ecuador for allowing Julian Assange to live in their embassy?

        Or use basic diplomatic pressure like....

        Step 1: You describe the military action...
        as a 'coup.' Because....it's true and echoes the sentiments of every gov't in South America. Call a coup a coup.

        Step 2: When reporters ask you what should happen You say the 'coup' should be undone. And the people's elected leader ought to be returned to power.

        .........................................
        And the US has a ton of leverage over Honduras as well as the leaders of the coup, individually and collectively.
        -Describe the gov't as illegitimate
        -Refuse to recognize the usurpers
        -Withdraw our ambassador
        -Cut off aid
        -Freeze foreign accounts of individuals responsible; ban them and their families from travel to US

        That's just a start.
        We throw our weight around all the time. Why not in Honduras?

        •  Does that get Zelaya back in power in time... (0+ / 0-)

          before his term ends, and the Constitution renders him illegible to serve and President?

          Not particularly likely.

          Oh, btw, the administration did describe it as a coup, repeatedly, throughout the episode, as well as called for Zelaya's restoration.

          (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was illegal and would set a "terrible precedent" of transition by military force unless it was reversed.

          "We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there," Obama told reporters after an Oval Office meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe...Obama said he would work with the Organization of American States and other international institutions to restore Zelaya to power and "see if we can resolve this in a peaceful way.

          I want you to think about this for a minute: the core factorial claim behind your angry, bitter denunciations has just been shown to be false. An honest person would respond to this situation by doing something other than doubling down, or finding some weasel words to explain why they aren't really wrong.

          Are you an honest person?

          Art is the handmaid of human good.

          by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:24:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If you had a shred of honesty... (0+ / 0-)

            You would've posted SoS Clinton's clarification---from your own fucking link--- that the administration was not, in fact, classifying Zelaya's ouster as a coup.

            Despite Obama's comments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration was not formally designating the ouster as a military coup for now, a step that would force a cut-off of most U.S. aid to Honduras.
            The WH looked the other way and while running out the clock on Zelaya's term. While giving appearances that they were upset.

            That silence was deafening.
            And their protestations disingenuous.

            But you know that.

  •  One would hope you are correct, and its true (4+ / 0-)

    that there has been the return to sanity in the instances you refer to.  

    'Thank God,' I think every time I see one!

    Then I read about millions even billions being spent to covertly subvert elected Governments,  deployment of special forces in multiple countries, HUGE black budget,  etc etc and I think 'fugggggggggh had really hoped to see more  change from decades of failed US policy?'

    As one who has been to the Ukraine as part of US/USSRCitizen Diplomacy efforts in the 80's and left with wonderful friends there, I deeply hope the President acts there as you suggest!

    FWIW, here's an alternative view from Karen J. Greenberg, TomDispatch

    SNIP

    But keep in mind that that’s only one of our two presidents.  The other, a fellow named Barack Obama, flies (by drone) like Superman, rules more or less by fiat, sends U.S. missiles to strike and kill just about anyone, including American citizens, anywhere in the distant backlands of the planet, and dispatches the country’s secret warriors (whether from the CIA or the special operations forces) wherever he pleases.  He can, with rare exceptions, intervene violently wherever he chooses.  He can (by proxy) listen in on whomever he’s curious about (including, it seems, 320 German business and political leaders).  He rules over what former Congressional insider Mike Lofgren calls the “deep state” in Washington, a national security apparatus that is neither riven, nor broken, nor paralyzed, with only the rarest intercessions from Congress.  In this world, Obama's powers have only grown, along with the “kill list” he reviews every week.

    SNIP

    Karen J. Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, is the author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First One-Hundred Days, as well as of numerous articles on national security policy after 9/11, and a TomDispatch regular.  Kevin Garnett, legal research fellow at the center, contributed research to this article.
    The quote's points are  solidly linked for those who want to go read it and follow those links:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/...

    ###

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:36:28 AM PDT

  •  Involvement (6+ / 0-)

    in foreign wars was probably the biggest reason that he was elected in the first place.

    Big doctrines and overarching principles don't work anymore. That was far more pragmatic in the days of the Cold War.

    •  And yet, Obama has reverted to Cold War in Asia (0+ / 0-)

      First, Obama & Co. seem not to have grasped the history and dynamics of Asia politics in general and East Asia in particular until they had already taken several serious missteps.

      Second, after making an ill-conceived "Pivot to Asia" the centerpiece of his military and economic Foreign Policy, there was a serious lack of attention to the diplomatic work of it particularly where the complex relationship of Japan, China and the Koreas was involved.

      Instead of well-laid plans and diligent diplomacy, when we got was Hilary Clinton and Robert Gates playing very lamely conceived China containment games that fooled no one including the US FB community.

      What they left in their wake was the type of kitchen mess you get when there are too many cooks stirring pots at random, over-promising and under-delivering.

      US policy in the region is now, literally, in tatters; Japan is in the hands of a right-wing revisionist (Abe) the US tries and fails to muzzle; US-China relations have been in a deep-freeze for more than 2 years and likely to remain so given the cold-shoulder Obama gave Xi in their first meeting, meeting him with wild (and ultimately hypocritical) accusations instead of establishing a productive working relationship, and now Obama is sending Max Bacchus to be the ambassador (WTF?); the entire region of SE Asia has been brought to a boil due to the pot-stirring of Clinton and Gates who turned long-standing but low intensity territorial disputes into brinkmanship.

      Nice work.

      I regret to say that our region did better under the neglect of the Bush Administration. At least then, there was a power balance that allowed greater diplomacy and room for accommodation; today, that has largely gone out the window with the increasing polarization of regional politics.

      And what of the centerpiece of Obama's economic policy in Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership?  Do I have to go there?

      So I'm wondering how all this squares with the diarist's thesis.

      Strangely, I see no real mention of Asia on this thread save my own comments. Guess the region does not merit much attention. Populous, growth-oriented, but unimportant.

      No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

      by koNko on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 05:55:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd argue that the Afghan surge is consistent... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Armando, commonmass, Gurnt

    with Obama's flexible, location-specific, non-grand-strategy foreign policy.

    He inherited a situation in which the NATO/ANA military situation was in desperate straits, the Taliban forces had momentum, and an actual military collapse and helicopters taking off from the embassy roof was a real possibility. Look back at reports from Afghanistan in 2008/early 2009. People forget how much of an improvement a stalemate actually represents.

    He responded to this situation - that's another key part of Obama's foreign policy vision you note, responding to situations instead of always trying to create them - by ordering both the surge and the subsequent withdrawal (people talk about the withdrawal as a reversal on his part, but it was ordered right alongside the second surge) in order to deal with the immediate crisis, prevent a disaster, while committing American troops only for the purpose of dealing with that disaster and establishing a situation allowing for a withdrawal without setting off a worse disaster. He also reduced the scope of our objectives there from "freedom and democracy and an ally in the War on Terror" to some very Obama-esque, minimalist objectives: prevent the Taliban from rolling through the country and allowing al Qaeda back in, and giving the Afghan National Army the time and training it needed to take over the country's security. In other words, he abandoned the grand global strategy there that the Bushies were pursuing, opting to deal with the immediate problem on its own terms and then limit American long-term involvement.

    That the specifics of his policy there look different from the specifics of other situations to which he has responded is the result of the situation being different, not his doctrine being different. As you say, being flexible and responding differently to different cases is a core element of how he operates.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:45:04 AM PDT

  •  Obama is certainly smarter in foreign relations... (6+ / 0-)

    ...than a McCain or a Romney. He is even smarter than Hillary given that he opposed the Iraq invasion and she supported it.

    IMO he got lucky with Syria.  He almost went in.  

    If Venezuela instability was the objective, he was smart to not recognize the Maduro election.  We were the only country to do so giving a green light to the opposition.  We are doing something similar in Ukraine with Kerry's visit.

    But if you look at the big picture, if we push Russia to get closer to China than it has lately (UN Security Council veto on Syria for example) we may end up with a much more difficult Cold War.

    This new Cold War will not be as easy as the last one;

    1) The Chines economy will overtake ours in 10-15 years.
    2) The Muslim world has gained geopolitical relevance and is far more likely to take adversarial positions.
    3) Europe and Latin America are not happy (with exceptions) since the Snowden affair.
    4) China and Russia had an adversarial relationship in the Cold War but no longer.
    5) Our economy has stagnated. Inequality doesn't help and neither does military spending.

    Yes Obama is much wiser than the neo-cons and warmongers who prevail in the Tea Party/GOP but his "doctrine" is not very clear to me.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:45:18 AM PDT

  •  Man I would love to T and R this post BBB (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock

    because it is well done. However, you completely ruined it at the end by perpetuating the Big Lie:

    "The United States no longer has the wealth or appetite to "bear any burden" at any cost, at any place on the globe, for any amount of time."

    We have unlimited nominal dollar wealth. Why can't people get past this simple fact? Dollars are fiat units of measurement, there is no such thing as a shortage or limit on the number of computer entries on bank balance sheets. The bigger crime is that this obsession with a lack of dollars obscures the important parts of life and society.

    Its the REAL wealth that matters. We can always afford to fight massive wars, but do we want to sacrifice the REAL things, lives, steel, labor, health care, our stature and reputation around the world, time, rubber, satelite capacity, and on and on and on. These are all our REAL constraints and are supremely important in decision making. The one thing that is completely irrelevant however, is how many digital dollar digits we have or create.

    "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

    by Auburn Parks on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:56:01 AM PDT

    •  We can always "print" money, yes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, eztempo, chuckvw

      but using it to maintain a global Roman empire while ignoring needs at home. No. We can't afford it.

      Printing money for military expansion does have a cost--the opportunity cost of what we don't spend the money on.

      And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

      by Pale Jenova on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:05:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All money is "printed" so in that sense your (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pale Jenova

        first concern is irrelevant.

        I too don't believe in maintaining a military empire, but my opinion has to do with morality and not whether we can afford it it.

        Spending money on the military does not mean we cant spend money on our domestic problems. The two are completely unrelated wrt to the nominal dollar amount.

        Do we not have enough engineers and labor because the military is "buying" too many of them? Obviously not.

        Is steel too expensive because the military is bidding up steel prices and making it too expensive for the private sector? Maybe.

        Again, none of these questions have anything to do with the number of digital dollar entries, these are solely political decisions based off our collective decision making values. This is why BBB's restatement of The Big Lie is harmful, it obscures the REAL things that are important by falsely agreeing with the right wing myth that its the fiat money that is more important.

        "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

        by Auburn Parks on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:16:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Should read "do we NOT have enough engineers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pale Jenova

          and labor because of military spend?

          "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

          by Auburn Parks on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:17:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Lyndon Johnson tried that (0+ / 0-)

          and it proved inflationary. China won't be willing to import our inflation (by keeping its currency tied to the dollar) forever.

          Many Latin American countries tried to turn on the money pumps as well, inflating themselves into oblivion. The dollar doesn't have as much vulnerability as the Argentine peso did--a bigger ocean to piss in, for one thing, and the less than stable Euro for another--but military spending gives a far smaller return than other uses, unless you are defending from an invasion.

          Better to go "Star Trek": spend money to explore the solar system; enact Newt's one sane idea of a moon base, and take a look at neighboring star systems. Maybe we can find a way to let the One Percent rapture/go "Galt" on Pluto. Or better yet, Sedna.

          And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

          by Pale Jenova on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:24:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Umm, I'm sorry but the historical data does (0+ / 0-)

            not agree with you. Govt deficits averaged in the 1% range, much lower than today.

            http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/...

            You are also confusing different monetary regimes with our. Every Latin American country had its currency pegged to something else, which is a REAL constraint, not a NOMINAL constraint.

            For example, if Argentina promises to its peso (something it is sovereign over) to the dollar (a currency it does not control) then of course they can run into problems.

            the same thing applies to the gold standard (its really convertibility that matters and not necessarily the things you are promising to convert to). The USA used to promise to convert its fiat money (again, unlimited sovereign authority, a nominal measure) to the REAL constraint that is the amount of gold that exists.

            I appreciate that this stuff can be compilcated, but it certainly serves non purpose to simplify things to the point that we are parroting Right wing myths that we can't afford SS because we are running out of digital fiat dollar measurements.

            "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

            by Auburn Parks on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:30:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Increasing the money supply without bounds (0+ / 0-)

              Would not come without a price. Otherwise, we could end world poverty by sending every person a million dollars. (Actually, the good in this would outweigh the bad, as it would be "financed" by diluting the trillions of dollars the One Percent has socked away in Swiss and Cayman  banks.)

              And I never said we couldn't afford Social Security, either--even with commodity money we could afford it--though the highly regressive FICA tax hits poor people really hard, offsetting a lot of the benefits of SS.

              And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

              by Pale Jenova on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:47:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What you are failing to realize is that this (0+ / 0-)

                statement is false:

                "Increasing the money supply without bounds
                Would not come without a price. "

                This is exactly what QE results in.

                If the Govt just issued reserves to pay its deficit spending, the result would be that the number of reserves continues to build by the trillions, which pushes the baseline interest to zero.

                Here's the monetary base (supply of reserves) since the start of the QE's and its impact on the federal funds rate:

                http://research.stlouisfed.org/...

                I'm not saying that YOU personally believe we can't afford SS. I'm saying that pretending the Govt can run out of money just like you and I is a right wing myth that feeds the popular mainstream fear that we cant afford SS and the the SS trust fund is going bankrupt etc.

                "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

                by Auburn Parks on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:01:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  QE has not done jack for anyone (0+ / 0-)

                  except for the One Percent who received the handouts.

                  It is 100% the reverse of the (albeit snarky) idea I had--had a million dollars to every person.

                  How many trillions of dollars has the Fed created these past few years . . . and where are the jobs?

                  And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

                  by Pale Jenova on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 06:41:28 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I agree 100% that the wealthy don't drive the (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Pale Jenova

                    economy. Technically its not a handout since T-bonds are nothing but savings accounts at the Fed. In other words, I am no wealthier the day before I buy a T-bond nor the day after I sell it. This is a major reason why QE is not broadly stimulative, only deficits result in net new money creation, the Fed can't legally create NET financial assets.

                    The second reason QE is not stimulative is also the reason its been a huge boon to the 1%.  Its resulted in a 120% increase in the stock markets and 80% of the stocks are owned by just 10% of the people.

                    I just brought up QE because YOU said just issuing money and not bonds would have consequences, QE proves that this statement is wrong.

                    Cutting FICA is the best and most efficient way to stimulate the economy as its the most regressive federal tax.

                    "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

                    by Auburn Parks on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 07:30:45 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  What's Real Is What the Machine Believes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw

      and it believes and acts as though wealth not directed to bailing out big finance is limited.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:23:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Complete non-sequitur to what I am talking about (0+ / 0-)

        as thats a political decision, but its still a REAL problem nonetheless Goose.

        "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

        by Auburn Parks on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:31:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This has zero correlation with reality: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mickT

    "During the 2009 crisis in Honduras, President Obama called the military coup there illegal, but insisted on resolving the matter through negotiation and diplomacy through the Organization of American States. This proved the correct course of action despite calls among conservatives for stronger, heavy handed intervention."

    This is bullshit. The coup wasn't resolved. The forces who launched it are still in power. Obama did shit to stop it (and IIRC didn't even call it a coup). Conservatives were not pushing for intervention. The idea that the United States would intervene to STOP a right wing coup in Latin America is absurd.

    More broadly, Obama's foreign policy is indistinguishable from Bush's in his second term. If anything, he's been a bigger warmonger; we're bombing way more countries now than we were from 2004-08.

  •  $3 Trillion wars (0+ / 0-)

    Yes $3 Trillion wars make sense.

  •  This is an awesome diary. The premise is somethin (3+ / 0-)

    I have never heard anyone say which is why it is. Additonally, it is 100 percent accurate about the stupidity and rigidity of a "doctrine".

    Good job.

    "It's no measure of health being well adjusted to a profoundly sick society"

    by buckshot face on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:58:54 AM PDT

  •  I give the President a strong B (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe from Lowell

    Maybe higher, considering the obstruction he faces in congress.  
    Maybe higher still.

    Having said that, his focus has been on domestic, rather than Foreign policy.  He had delegated a good deal of FP control to SoS, with mixed results.

    HRC's noteworthy achievement was rebuilding State after the disasterous Bush years, particularly restoring State leadership in FP from its unfortunate swing in DoD.
    But, it appears HRC had a lot of autonomy, and a tendency to use soft power assets to prosecute hard power objectives, with decidedly mixed results.

    •  Reporting and analysis tells us otherwise. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, poco, joe from Lowell

      So far, from the foreign policy analysis we've seen from people who were in the administration is that President Obama himself is the person who directs American foreign policy. Pretty much the opposite of what you say.

      I, of course, am not shocked by this at all. The president has always been more interested in foreign policy than domestic policy. Since his youth, which he spent in various parts of the world. His bachelors is in international studies. When he was elected to the Senate he chose Foreign Affairs and Veterans. His very candidacy was built on a foreign policy matter, the war in Iraq, which he said himself was the only thing he had to distinguish himself from Hillary Clinton. Since taking office, the President has conducted all policy himself, with the assistance of a small handful of trusted aides in the White House, of which Hillary Clinton was a member, not the boss.

      From all the interviewing I've seen and books I've read, there is no question in foreign policy circles who is in charge: its the President. They do remark, however, that he has been less interested in taming the bureaucracies at Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon. To his detriment.

      •  My experience (0+ / 0-)

        Particularly in his first term is as I described.    You might be right, the President did lead, the weakness was in  the following.  

      •  Also, he ran for the nomination on foreign policy. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whizdom

        The financial meltdown caught everyone by surprise in 2008, after both parties had already nominated their preferred foreign policy candidates.

        Obama did spend a lot of time on domestic policy in his first term, but I think that was (once again) him being flexible and responding to events, as opposed to the implementation of his vision and will from the beginning.

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:50:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The UnDoctrine nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, mickT, joe from Lowell

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:24:04 AM PDT

  •  I'd give Obama a B+ (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, poco, whizdom

    Points deducted for a corporatist trade policy

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:27:12 AM PDT

    •  Years ago, I had a sig line: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Coaster

      Ross Perot was right.

      Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

      by commonmass on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:33:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Free Trade" is excellent foreign policy. (0+ / 0-)

      It's bad domestic economic policy, but as a tool to pursue American interests and increase our influence with foreign governments, it's very powerful.

      We aren't strong-arming these other countries into these deals; they really, really want us to make a deal with them. Pursuing these trade deals really helps our foreign policy, even as it imposes a cost domestically.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:52:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a good writeup. (0+ / 0-)

    I've also heard the criticisms that this president doesn't have an overarching "doctrine" approach to foreign policy.  And that seems odd to me since that doesn't seem to be the right way to solve any problem.  Why try to force a square peg in a round hole?  That never made any sense to me, but it seems to be important to the media elites or whoever.

  •  The hilarious (Hillary-ous) "doctrine" (0+ / 0-)

    The US has a very open-ended foreign policy objective that is being steadily implemented.

    It takes hours of reading CIA "World Factbook" reports on each nation in order to see the patterns.

    US official foreign policy is GLOBALIZATION.

    It began with Nixon and the opening to China and has been the on-going agenda with an 8-year exception: the 2 terms of idiot behavior by George W. Bush xliii.

    Putin is a ridiculous throwback--W looked into his Cyclopian eye and saw a kindred soul [ insert puke factor ].

    The new world order is a one world order with the total geo-political "strategy" of putting every nation's hands in all other nations' pocketbooks.

    We're all just working for Pharoah.

    by whl on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:43:36 PM PDT

  •  A Doctrine that could begin the disconnect.. (0+ / 0-)

    ..and eventual end of corporate control over our military forces, returning it into civilian hands - where the needed changes needed for the modern world can happen

    But more importantly, he will have set in place an high standard for future military adventures. It makes for a stark contrast with George W. Bush and his grand ambitions for nation building in the Middle East along with his failure to capture bin Laden. Billions spent, many lives lost, total waste. In contrast, we could have taken him out with a small team of special forces and some old school intelligence work.
    [...]
    Overall, what we have seen from this president is what one could call a return to classic internationalism, with its reliance on diplomacy and soft power tools. But there is a notable difference in the way President Obama operates that should serve is a guide for future presidents: let events play out before reacting and maintain flexibility.
    [...]
     
    ..the United States should maintain the Obama Doctrine toward the world: no grand ambitions, patience, flexible diplomacy, and light military engagement.
    cogent analysis, and it challenges and defeats (the real meaning/intent/accusation behind the phrase "leading from behind") the Bush Doctrine of military preemption; a defeat, I'm convinced, will make it possible for a streamlining and modernization of our armed forces in important ways to meet realistic future needs

    good deal BBB

  •  This is an ideiology-driven argument. (0+ / 0-)

    Nobody could ever look at the state of American foreign policy today, the crisis state of our relations around the world, unbaisedly and say "Hey! Things are great!" What painful nonsense.

  •  Foreign policy, yo! (0+ / 0-)
    A Yemeni journalist who was kept in prison for years at the apparent request of the Obama administration has been released in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a, according to local reports.

    Abdulelah Haider Shaye was imprisoned in 2010, after reporting that an attack on a suspected al-Qaida training camp in southern Yemen for which the Yemeni government claimed responsibility had actually been carried out by the United States.

    http://www.theguardian.com/...
  •  On this I agree to a point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LanceBoyle

    And that point is that I think that Obama allows (or is forced to allow) people who do have a Grand Strategy (like Victoria Nuland, for example, or Hillary Clinton) to drive policy that then requires the President to make certain policy choices publicly.

    Furthermore, unfortunately too many of the Grand Strategy types got their grand strategy from Rudyard Kipling's Kim and the story of the Great Game.

    While the US does not need a grand strategy it does need a vision of the role it intends to play in the world now that "sole superpower and policeman of the world" has been proven by George W. Bush to be beyond the capacity of the US economy under full free enterprise and tax cuts.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 03:06:55 PM PDT

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
    I agree completely. We need to adhere to our values and advance our interests,
    These are incompatible goals unless our so called values are strictly mercantile, monetary, imperial and exploitative.

    WE have no interests abroad, some of our corporations do, but that is a different matter.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 03:55:09 PM PDT

  •  Very useful article. Thanks. /nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  carter had a doctrine (0+ / 0-)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/...

    It's when you elucidate something where other
    national leaders and domestic players can
    predict future actions.

    Obama hasn't had a doctrine because he hasn't
    really whipped DoD or State into line.

    He let the Military overrun him, rather then tell them,
    get out.

  •  Obama's lack of any consistent beliefs (0+ / 0-)

    about foreign policy is a bug, not a feature. His posturing over Ukraine is reprehensible and indicates a poor grounding in reality about the importance of our relations with Russia. Yes, he's not nearly as crazy as McCain. But that's a pretty low bar. If it weren't for his views on economic and social policy, Rand Paul would be starting to look pretty good for 2016.

  •  Shorter: One size does not fit all. (0+ / 0-)

    And trying to force everything to fit in that square hole makes for a hell of a lot of clusterf**kery.  

    You'd think we'd realize that, as it is essentially a universal rule in all life's endeavors.

    The only time it appeared to work was during the Cold War where there were only '2' sides, and each side agreed to treat everything as if the only thing that mattered was which side pounding the peg into the hole helped.  Even then, however, it never really worked that way: see, Pol Pot, Iran1979, Central American drug empires, Iraq, Afghanistan/A-Q, etc.  

    'Course, don't expect Thugs - most of whom see the world in binary only - i.e., Godly/not, rich/not, usable/not, us/not - to understand, accept or appreciate it however.

  •  Could not disagree more (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know much about Obama's policy in the Asia-Pacific region.  It may be great.

    But his handling of Ukrainian crisis has been so far a jumbled mess.

    In a nutshell, the world community betrayed Russian-speaking community in Ukraine and threw it to the wolves.  The new Ukrainian government includes members of neo-Nazi party (“Svoboda”) and members of para-military brown shirts (“Right Sector”).   Yes, I posted about it before.  Yes, saying that Ukrainian new government is neo-Nazi is does not mean somehow an endorsement of Putin, or saying that Putin is a good guy.  It is just a fact.

    Also, calling them neo-Nazi is not Putin’s words

    World Jewish Congress called it a neo-Nazi party.  Link here.

    Eurpean Parliament said this in 2012, that it is

    concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU's fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party;
    Link here.

    Well, not only Svoboda is a member of majority coalition, it’s a member of the Government.  And this government is not only shunned by the EU, EU is fully in love with it.  Just google it and see how many photos and videos you will find of EU officials with Svoboda leader Tahnibok, or Kerry and Nuland gazing lovingly into his eyes.
    So, again, like I said before, if White House wants to divorce Ukrainin South and East from Putin, they need to show that they have their population in mind.  For example, demand that Svoboda and Right Sector out of the government, and at least some sort of consideration for federalization of Ukraine.  Such conditions can easily be written into loan guarantee bill.

  •  The Obama doctrine is clearly set out in... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden

    the National Security Strategy document of 2010.  There's no reason to infer or guess what it is.

    Everything the administration has done has been in conformance with that strategy and that document pretty much enables one to predict precisely what the administration would do.

    The main wrench in the gears though is Putin's Russia, because the 2010 national security strategy was predicated on close cooperation with Russia.

    Everyone should read that document.  

  •  Robert Gates "Duty" & Obama Afghanistan (0+ / 0-)

    I just read this book. Do not believe all the quotes the GOP pulled from the book about Obama. Gates' did have issues with Obama and fewer with Bush. He also recognizes that Obama was a new President setting new policy and necessarily had an eye on reelection while Bush was in his "legacy" years. That makes for a very different dynamic in the White House.

    We have to face the fact that Afghanistan was a messy situation. Gate's repeatedly makes the point that pulling out would have left a total mess behind that would have resulted in no overall gain. The Taliban and probably AQ would have been back in right after we left. Gates was active in the CIA when the Soviets were in Afghanistan and used their abrupt withdrawal to project what would happen if the US did the same thing. Those who do not study history etc.

    When you criticize Obama in this article about Afghanistan you are falling into the trap you praise him for avoiding. Obama did not take a cookie-cutter approach to Afghanistan but studied the situation, consulted the experts, and made his decision.

  •  Short Version (not really) (0+ / 0-)

    "Obama has a tactical not strategic approach to foreign policy."

    I think that is what you are trying to say, and it is largely true, but much less successful than your diary and it's cherry-picked examples suggests.

    But it is not completely tactical. What you totally fail to mention is Obama's one major strategic initiative, his so-called "Pivot to Asia", now euphemistically dubbed a "rebalancing" (without, apparently, a sense of irony for the unbalancing it has produced).

    This has been an almost unqualified failure of a policy in terms of advancing peace, prosperity and cooperation in the region, and also in terms of advancing American interests given the mess it created in East and South East Asia, and what now seems to be the unravelling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the area of trade and economics.

    You mention really nothing of substance about Asia, and very little of the diplomatic tensions in Western Europe, which now threatens pending trade negotiations there as well. You also seem to have totally ignored the FP issues related to Obama's use of drones, which was hardly a "light touch" and a model of restraint.

    So please take this as the constructive criticism and advice it is intended to be:

    - you are not well versed on the scope of Foreign Policy; clearly this is not your area of expertise. (If i'm wrong, please post the links to news and qualified FP commentary that informed this diary, this will be substantial if you are really serious on the subject.)

    - your thesis, that Obama's tactical approach is a success, is based on cherry-picked arguments and ignores major issues in the FP domain that suggest failure or at least miserable outcomes of policy or lack thereof.

    - Obama's foreign policy has caused his popularity and approval ratings in international polls to drop from record highs when he took office (yeah, the world bought into the campaign rhetoric) that were actually above US ratings, to a level close to Bush, and his lack of clear vision and leadership are a big part of that. Over-promised, way under-delivered.

    So I'd suggest, if you think FP is very important, to actually research the issues in depth and seriously consider the substance of his policy and accomplishments (or failures) in this area.

    Because, you are treating it like a lightweight issue, and it isn't.

    It's really important, and deserves more serious consideration than this fluff.

    I seriously doubt, 50 years from now, Obama will be seen as a foreign policy giant.

    Economic recovery. Check.
    Health care. Check.
    LBGT rights. Check.
    Immigration reform. Check (well, he is really trying)
    Environment. Check (if he has the guts to nix the Keystone XL)

    Foreign Policy. Nope. Not impressed.

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 06:58:51 AM PDT

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