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July 3, 2011
The Obama Doctrine: Feckless or Logically Coherent?
Between a stagnant economy, the debt crisis, and the antics of a certain congressman, foreign policy hasn't gotten much attention. Most Americans are comfortable with the assumption that, agree or disagree with specific policies, this administration, like all previous administrations, is pursuing the national interest.
Douglas J. Feith and Seth Cropsey, writing in the July issue of Commentary, suggest that assumption no longer applies. Never in our history has there been a president who wanted to weaken America's position relative to the rest of the world: until now. The Obama Doctrine Defined by the authors is that "American leadership serving American interests abroad are not a proper guide for future conduct.... The United States should drop its obsession with its own national interests and concentrate on working for the world's general good on an equal footing with other countries, recognizing that it is multinational bodies that grant legitimacy on the world stage."
The authors dispute critics who describe the president's Libya policy as feckless, clueless, or just plain inept. Rather, Feith and Cropsey assert "the administration's approach has logic and coherence in the service of strategic considerations that extend far beyond Libya."
In my view, these "strategic considerations" are so inimical to America's future (and the world's) that the authors' article ought to be served with breakfast every morning from now until the 2012 election. They write:
Obama's priority, when the Libya revolt developed, was to make sure the United States had the approval of the UN Security Council and the Arab League before acting. The contrast between the President's obeisance to the UN and the Arab League and his disdain for Congress by violating the War Powers Act is breath-taking.
Obama's skewed view of history, articulated in his 2009 Cairo speech and elsewhere, is that America is not a force for good in the world; rather, America owes the world an apology for its arrogance and its many mistakes.
Among other examples from like-minded Obama appointees, the authors' quote a 2003 article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, the State Department's head of policy planning.
The President has vowed to transform America's relations with the rest of the world. He envisions an America guided by multinational institutions and committed to "transnational law." Such an America would be committed to internationally defined rights and laws, not to a democratically elected legislature (nor, need it be said, the Constitution). It requires putting the interests of the 'international community before the national interest.
At the heart of this internationalist fantasy, Charles Krauthammer explained in a 2010 lecture, is the concept of a "community of nations:"
Obama's utopian world vision is an extension of the progressive view that the individual should be subordinated to the needs of the group. Thus must
American interests be subordinate to global needs. In this vision, a combination of diplomacy and a more equitable distribution of wealth will result in a better world for all.
So, as Feith and Cropsey explain, it is not that Obama's Libya policy lacks consistency. It is that Obama is engaged in attempting to square a circle. His pursuit of internationalist goals is unwavering as is his desire to limit American sovereignty. However, he knows that most Americans reject his interpretation of history, and his goals, so if he wants to be re-elected he is forced to equivocate, for now. And he wants to be re-elected.
Marcia Sielaff blogs at What Would the Founders Think?
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