The Obama Doctrine Somewhat Explained

In a thorough and extensive article, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic tries to explain in his own words, as well as the words of President Barack Obama, what the president’s guiding principles have been and what he views as his legacy.

The piece, titled “The Obama Doctrine,” is based on a series of conversations Obama had with reporter Goldberg, and is a must-read for anyone interested in the failures and successes of Obama.

“Over the course of our conversations, I came to see Obama as a president who has grown steadily more fatalistic about the constraints on America’s ability to direct global events, even as he has, late in his presidency, accumulated a set of potentially historic foreign-policy achievements—controversial, provisional achievements, to be sure, but achievements nonetheless: the opening to Cuba, the Paris climate-change accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and, of course, the Iran nuclear deal,” Goldberg tells the reader.

Some of the news that came out the article surrounds his stern criticism of foreign leades.

Obama says Saudi Arabia and Iran should establish a form of “cold peace” in order to manage the growing chaos in the Middle East, while warning that anarchy will persist in the region until the two nations can learn to “share the neighborhood.”

In the article, Obama criticized the Saudis for the kingdom’s role in spreading violent extremism in the wider Muslim world and for oppressing women at home.

His criticism extended even to America’s closest allies. President Obama: “failure of [British Prime Minister David] Cameron to obtain the consent of his parliament” was major factor against Syria strikes.

His defenders, however, believe confusion about the Obama doctrine stems from his focus less on what action he would take and more on what his foreign policy won’t do. Furthermore, it is less clear on what he would like to get done, asserts Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

There has been some blowback to the article, and not all of it is from domestic critics.

Hirsham Melhem of Al-Arabiya news does not hold back in his critique of Obama, who Mlhem believes sees himself in a presidential mold alongside Abraham Lincoln.

“But while Lincoln displayed strong leadership and saw himself and acted decisively as a war President, fighting his own rearguard battles against his reluctant and indecisive Generals in the first phase of the war, Obama eschewed decisive action, resented the wars he inherited as well as his ostensible allies, acted as a reluctant Commander-in-Chief, and avoided risks because he did not want to own his decisions. Obama is a war president, in as much as the war is limited to the safe use of drones and small scale special operations,” he argues.

Furthermore, he says Obama “goes to excruciating lengths to blame others for his failures, and for denying embarrassing setbacks in the Middle East,” which reflects what he sees as a president “who is arrogant in the extreme.”

Melhem does respond directly to the Goldberg article here.

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