Thoughts on the New “Obama Doctrine”

Posted by on Sep 16, 2011

Find the rant I did on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan show here:

And here’s the full text:

Obama’s foreign policy during the events of the Arab Spring has often been labeled “leading from behind”. It has been criticized by many – Romney has stated that “America is seen as being weak”.

Not this time. After decades of debatable American foreign policy decisions, this new “Obama doctrine” is looking like a stellar one.

America has a bit of a history of “leading from behind”. The US went through a long phase of isolationism over the past century. World War One began in 1914 but the US didn’t join until 1917.

My small island of the UK was on its knees after two years of World War Two, before America finally entered the fray in December 1941 and saved the day. World War Two of course altered the political alignment and social structure of the world. Europe had stitched itself up and America rose to dominance, its isolationism at an end.

There started the phase of America leading from the front. Safeguarding a grateful free world was not without controversy. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq – and the rest.

Obama’s incarnation of “leading from behind” isn’t about abandoning American leadership or a return to isolationism. It’s about policy that’s not utterly self-defeating.

Facing facts, pursuing American interests now requires a bit of subtlety as unfortunately the U.S. is reviled in many parts of the world. A massive show of leading from the front is just going to hand out the anti-imperialist and anti-American PR card to dictators, whose first resort is always to blame foreign intervention as cynical neo colonialism.

No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other. A people have to own their own revolution. The images of the rebels stomping on the head of a Gaddafi statue inside his Tripoli compound, will play far better in Libya and across the Arab world, than the pictures from 2003 of US Marines pulling down a statue of Saddam Hussein with an American flag draped over his head.

I don’t recall seeing footage of a single burning of an American flag during the recent mass protests and revolts across the Arab world. America leading from behind has enabled the region to regain pride in itself, to embrace human rights not as western ideals but as global ideals that belong to them too. This defangs the narrative of radical Islam.

And make no mistake. That is a major victory for America. It makes America stronger.