In a wide ranging, almost book length piece in the April issue of The Atlantic magazine, Jeffery Goldberg offers a wide ranging and perceptive analysis of what has yet to become known as the "Obama Doctrine," but, I predict, will be shortly.  Others call it the “Leading From Behind Doctrine” but this article leaves that moniker in the dustbin of irrational historical hysteria.  Goldberg penned this piece from a dozen face to face interviews with the President, including long hours aboard Air Force One as he accompanied the President on his overseas journeys. 

If you are at all interested in what the “Obama Doctrine” consists of, and it consists of quite a bit of revolutionary thinking about America’s role in the world, what constitutes our strategic overseas interests, where U.S. attention overseas should be directed and why the Middle East is no longer a top shelf priority for America, this is a must read.  Many of us have been aware of the shift that Barack Obama has achieved vis-à-vis our relationships with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Russia for example, and his reluctance to commit American troops to engagement overseas, but Goldberg’s lengthy piece maps out what are extraordinary fundamental changes that the President has wrought during his seven years in office, much, he has admits himself, against the “best advice and consul” of his advisors.

I’ll include the final paragraphs to Goldberg’s piece as a kind of summary to whet your appetite.

“Obama has come to a number of dovetailing conclusions about the world, and about America’s role in it. The first is that the Middle East is no longer terribly important to American interests. The second is that even if the Middle East were surpassingly important, there would still be little an American president could do to make it a better place. The third is that the innate American desire to fix the sorts of problems that manifest themselves most drastically in the Middle East inevitably leads to warfare, to the deaths of U.S. soldiers, and to the eventual hemorrhaging of U.S. credibility and power. The fourth is that the world cannot afford to see the diminishment of U.S. power. Just as the leaders of several American allies have found Obama’s leadership inadequate to the tasks before him, he himself has found world leadership wanting: global partners who often lack the vision and the will to spend political capital in pursuit of broad, progressive goals, and adversaries who are not, in his mind, as rational as he is. Obama believes that history has sides, and that America’s adversaries—and some of its putative allies—have situated themselves on the wrong one, a place where tribalism, fundamentalism, sectarianism, and militarism still flourish. What they don’t understand is that history is bending in his direction.

“The central argument is that by keeping America from immersing itself in the crises of the Middle East, the foreign-policy establishment believes that the president is precipitating our decline,” Ben Rhodes told me. “But the president himself takes the opposite view, which is that overextension in the Middle East will ultimately harm our economy, harm our ability to look for other opportunities and to deal with other challenges, and, most important, endanger the lives of American service members for reasons that are not in the direct American national-security interest.”

If you are a supporter of the president, his strategy makes eminent sense: Double down in those parts of the world where success is plausible, and limit America’s exposure to the rest. His critics believe, however, that problems like those presented by the Middle East don’t solve themselves—that, without American intervention, they metastasize.

At the moment, Syria, where history appears to be bending toward greater chaos, poses the most direct challenge to the president’s worldview.
George W. Bush was also a gambler, not a bluffer. He will be remembered harshly for the things he did in the Middle East. Barack Obama is gambling that he will be judged well for the things he didn’t do.”

If you’d like to know why it is that Obama cancelled a planned bombing run in Syria the night before it was to take place or why the President doesn’t believe that the Middle East should be our top foreign policy concern and why he believes that climate change is, read the article.  It’s immensely informative. 


Have A Good Day!


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