Jewish World Review Sept. 7, 2011 / 8 Elul, 5771
Obama, Abroad, Is Adrift
By Jonah Goldberg
Since President Obama has been having a rough time lately, let me belatedly congratulate him on his apparently successful policy of regime change in
Initially, I favored a more robust and decisive intervention when Obama seemed to dither, and then I criticized how he ultimately committed
Obviously, he didn't do it alone. Our
Still, if Obama were a Republican, he would be getting considerably more praise from the right for pursuing a relatively low-cost and low-risk
Obama also deserves kudos for taking out
And yet, there's something peculiar about Obama's foreign policy: There doesn't seem to be one. Talking about
This strikes me as wildly overstated, even bizarre. A doctrine, in and of itself, doesn't compel anyone to do anything. Moreover, some doctrines -- isolationism, for instance -- can lead you to not intervene in places you should.
Rhodes' anti-doctrine stance reflects an irony about the Obama presidency. Shortly after Obama's swearing-in, and his initial executive order to end coercive interrogation techniques and his (failed) vow to shutter the
His administration committed itself to downplaying the war on terror. Remember the effort to rebrand 9/11-style terrorist attacks as "man-caused disasters"?
The surge in
In fact, to the chagrin of many on the left, Obama has strengthened these programs by making them bipartisan and uncontroversial.
At face value, I find this borderline repugnant. America shouldn't be the world's policeman, but neither should we make it a matter of principle to say we won't stop genocide when and where we can simply because no one will join our posse.
One has to marvel at the audacity of Obama's cautiousness. It buys bravery on the cheap by saying we must do something, and then exempts us from having to do anything if we're alone in our principles. Cross your fingers and
This principle means that we can do diplomatically or politically easy things (like
More broadly, it's remarkable how Obama's reactive and risk-averse foreign policy has racked up political successes, while by concentrating all of his talents on domestic affairs, he's made a colossal political mess for himself at home by concentrating his energies and talents on a bold agenda. Maybe his domestic policy shop could take some lessons.
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