American Elephants

The Obama Doctrine, Revisited by The Elephant's Child


One of the most important articles to appear lately comes from the April issue of The Atlantic magazine called “The Obama Doctrine” in which Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg interviews President Barack Obama  about “his hardest decisions about America’s role in the world.”

It is an extraordinarily revealing article, and has been widely discussed. If you have a concern for your country and for its future, this is one you need to read and think about.

A significant group of columnists have chosen to respond to the Obama interview, or at least to the opinions expressed.

Here’s Danielle Pletka, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute on “Confessions of Barack Obama , confidence man.”:

The Obama that emerges from the Atlantic interview is preternaturally icy, contemptuous of both his adversaries and his own staff, thin-skinned, angry, and oddly self-satisfied. That character portrait aside, it would have been nice if the article had shed light on the worldview that governs Obama’s decisions. Rather, it illuminated the fact that he doesn’t have a worldview.

Hisham Melhem is a columnist for Al Arabia at Washington DC, and a correspondent for the Lebanese newspaper Annahar. “The Middle East is Unraveling—and Obama Offers Words:”

In these speeches, as in Goldberg’s article, Obama comes across as a scholar who oscillates between providing compelling analysis of the problems and trends he is confronting or anticipating, and a tireless sophist and procrastinator weaving elaborate excuses and justifications for dithering and hand-wringing.

William A. Galston writes at the Wall Street Journal, about “The All-Spock-No- Kirk President — revealing that he misunderstands the office he occupies.”

Consistent with his progressivist understanding of history, the president offers a strong defense of what we have come to call soft power: “Diplomacy and technocrats and bureaucrats . . . are helping to keep America safe.” He is right, but he carries the point much too far. “Real power,” he asserts, means that “you can get what you want without having to exert violence.” Not so; military power is just as real as diplomatic and economic power, and sometimes it is the only thing than can work. Unlike Vladimir Putin, Mr. Obama has consistently ignored the ways in which the military balance on the ground shapes what is diplomatically possible.

Victor Davis Hanson at The Jewish World Review points out that “The Buck Never Stops Here”

This blame-gaming is old and tired. After Obama established a “red line” with Syrian President Bashar Assad on the use of chemical weapons, only to see Assad ignore the warning with impunity, Obama denied that he had ever set a red line in the first place. Instead, he claimed the United Nations and Congress had set one. Obama has blamed the Syrian fiasco on Congress and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for pressing for the training of Syrian rebels.

Bret Stephens, columnist at The Wall Street Journal says “Barack Obama Checks Out.”

Barack Obama—do you remember him?—will remain in office for another 311 days. But not really. The president has left the presidency. The commander in chief is on sabbatical. …
In his place, an exact look-alike of Mr. Obama is giving interviews to Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, interviews that are so gratuitously damaging to long-standing U.S. alliances, international security and Mr. Obama’s reputation as a serious steward of the American interest that the words could not possibly have sprung from the lips of the president himself.


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