President Barack Obama meets with members of his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House, January 29, 2010. The President’s chair is marked with a plaque engraved with the date of his inauguration. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Derek Chollet, National Interest: How Obama's Foreign Policy 'Long Game' Works
It's a framework or checklist, not a doctrine.
This week, a central theme of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia has been that the United States is stronger at home and better positioned in the world than it was eight years ago—and that President Barack Obama has helped defined a new approach to the use of American power, one that Hillary Clinton will continue.
So it is worth taking a step back to ask: Is there an Obama Doctrine?
Almost all Presidents resist the doctrinal strait-jacket, and Obama rejects the idea that, in his words, there can be a “cookie-cutter approach” to global challenges. Yet he does have a coherent set of ideas about what he wants the United States to accomplish in the world, and how it should go about doing so. This is what academics describe as a “grand strategy,” and what I think of as Obama’s “Long Game” foreign policy.
The core elements of Obama’s Long Game are not the doctrine pundits clamor for, but they do comprise a kind of checklist, a practical framework to managing American power and making strategic choices, ensuring the United States remains in the best possible position to solve problems and pursue its interests. When thinking about Obama’s legacy and the lessons for his successors, the Long Game checklist is a good place to start.
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WNU Editor: There are so many parts of this commentary that I disagree with that I do not even know where to begin. So I will start with the author's definition of what is American exceptionalism .... he sees it in the same way that President Obama does .... a nation built on an economic/military/political base that is unrivalled in the world. I see it differently .... American exceptionalism is represented by its constitution and what the framers codified should be the role of government .... more to the point .... government must be answerable to its people, and not the other way around. This was a revolutionary thought then .... and it is still a revolutionary concept today. And while this concept is always under pressure from U.S. economic and political elites who see it as a hindrance to their power ..... for those who have lived and/or are living under government controlled societies .... America is our "shining beacon on a hill" because of these ideals.
Derek Chollet believes the economy is vibrant and growing .... I see it as an economy propped up by trillions in government debt, and trillions more via through quantitative easing. Throw in a hundred million who are working and debt liabilities growing .... and yes .... I do not see a good ending from all of this. And as for crediting President Obama for America's energy independence .... the fact is that he has been a consistent obstacle to fracking and the benefits that it brings.
I do not see any balance in President Obama's foreign policy. I see a White House making commitments and failing to back it up with the resources that these policies may need. Asian pivot anyone.
There is no U.S. sustainability on many foreign policy fronts. I see it more as a policy driven to minimise commitments and resources, and leaving the big (and unpopular) decisions to the next President.
Restraint .... I do see a lot of restraint. But too much restraint sometimes benefits our enemies. I find it disappointing that it was only after the Russians started to bomb the Islamic State that the U.S. decided to up the ante in fighting the Islamic State. This restraint has now fed the perception in the Middle East that the U.S. supports the Islamic State .... even thought they are now bombing the hell out of them.
In closing .... I understand that being President must be an incredibly difficult job. The negative karma alone would be too much for me. But President Obama wanted the job because he had a certain view of foreign policy that he believed the U.S. should follow. 8 years later .... his view on foreign policy is now America's foreign policy. And when I look at the world today, I am struck on how many multiple conflicts are in play .... and in many of these conflicts .... I see the U.S. military and/or intelligence footprints everywhere.