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The Obama Doctrine

Yesterday marked the 8th month of the Obama administration, and a unifying theme behind their management of our relations with other nations -- an "Obama Doctrine," if you will -- is starting to emerge. And it ain't a pretty one.

It seems best summed up thus: "piss off your friends and appease your foes."

It doesn't sound like a formula for success, or even well thought out, but it is the best summation that fits the known facts. Witness how things have gone with select nations:

Great Britain: a steady stream of slights and insults, including cheap gifts to the Prime Minister (including DVDs that won't work in England), the return of a prized Churchill bust that had held an honored place in the Oval Office for decades, and meddling with Bermuda (a British colony) to the point where we inadvertently toppled their government. How the release of the Lockerbie bomber fits in is unclear; it could be considered a bit of a "tit for tat" slap from the British, or the Obama's protestations of being unaware of it beforehand could be more attempts to blame the British for things.

Israel: A major shift has occurred in our stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For decades, we'd said that the major obstacle to peace was the two sides' tendency to destroy things (people, buildings, vehicles, and the like). Under Obama, the biggest problem is now Israel's building housing for people. No wonder only about 4% of Israelis think that Obama is on their side.

Poland: The former keystone to the Soviet empire (that might be a stretch, but they did call their alliance "the Warsaw Pact") has been a great friend of the United States ever since President Reagan supported the Solidarity movement that began the collapse of that empire. There are few people who more value freedom than those who have just emerged from decades of enslavement. Then, on the 60th 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, Obama announces that he's withdrawing the missile shield President Bush had promised the Poles to protect them from Soviet threats.

Canada and Mexico: Our two closest neighbors, with whom we share huge, unfortified borders, are also our key trading partners. During the election, Obama denounced the NAFTA pact that has benefited all three nations (to various degrees) and has been pushing a form of American protectionism that threatens their continued prosperity.

On the other hand...

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez has built his dictatorship on, among other things, staunch anti-Americanism. So, naturally, Obama has been suitably conciliatory and apologetic.

(added)Honduras: When their president tried to bypass their Constitution and set himself up as another Chavez, nearly the entire rest of the government -- the legislature, the supreme court, and a good chunk of his own executive branch -- united to kick him out. Naturally, Obama's leaning heavily on those people to let the guy back into the country and into power. (Thanks for the reminder, Rovin.)

Russia: It's growing clearer that Putin is trying to rebuild the old Soviet empire, minus the whole now-icky "Communist" label. (Just ask Georgia.) So, naturally, Obama is falling all over himself to keep on their good side and avoiding any kind of confrontation.

Iran: Maybe the Bush administration didn't do a hell of a lot to slow down Iran's nuclear program, but Obama's managed to undo whatever they did do. He's offered the demanded apologies and signs of contrition, and they're closer than ever to getting the bomb -- and far less likely to be intimidated from using it.

North Korea: See "Iran."

And then there's the truly inexplicable one.

China.

China is both "friend" and "foe." On the one hand, they're militarily aggressive as hell and continue threatening Taiwan and other neighbors. They've made no bones that they see the 21st century as the time they surpass the United States as the world's dominant power, and are doing all they can to bring that to fruition.

On the other hand, they're one of our most important trading partners and hold a tremendous amount of our government's debt, so we ought to play nice with them.

So, what does Obama do?

Well, when they confront us militarily (mostly on the high seas, where they've been harassing our unarmed reconnaissance ships), he's backed down. But he's also threatening to start a trade war with them over automobile tires.

The easiest way to predict what Obama will do in foreign relations seems to be to first figure out what Bush did or would have done, and then bet on him doing the opposite.

To paraphrase Monty Python, "foreign policy is an intellectual process ... contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the previous administration did."

I understand the British Prime Minister included a DVD of "The Argument Clinic" in his last set of gifts to President Obama, but it was encoded for the wrong region, so the message was "lost in translation."


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Comments (28)

Obama to slash US nukes<br ... (Below threshold)
SillyPuddy:
The U.N. seats of ... (Below threshold)
The U.N. seats of Sudan, Qatar, Oman, Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea, for example, will not stand empty next week. All these countries' leaders owe their positions to coups, and all are members in good standing at the General Assembly.

But Honduras will have an empty seat, because this administration disagrees with Honduras's supreme court that threw a president out of office for attempting to do a "Chevaz end-around dictatorship", and Obama calls this a coup. Can this make any one here a little nervous on how Obama may respect our own Supreme Court or for that matter, our Constitution?

This may be another subject that's above our Presidents pay grade.

Crap, Rovin, I knew there w... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Crap, Rovin, I knew there was another nation I wanted to mention... Honduras. Thanks.

J.

You seem to believe that th... (Below threshold)
Aubrey:

You seem to believe that there's some thought behind this. There isn't.

I think there's thought, Au... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

I think there's thought, Aubrey - it's just not what we'd consider exactly in line with the best interests of the US.

Unless you consider it in the best interests of the US to have its economy trashed and the social systems overloaded while alienating allies we've had for decades.

In which case it makes perfect sense...

Guess he is working ... (Below threshold)


Guess he is working on 'back door' diplomacy and take the other side into confidence only to break it on time :) This is what is correct and accepted politically.
There are nations which threaten our security and we sit easy on them.Why are we so much myopic in our outlook.
The best we can do is to wait and watch,probably our President is not that "bad" as is made out to be,who knoows!!

Has anybody heard from our ... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

Has anybody heard from our esteemed Secretary of State recently?

I get the impression she was named Secretary of State only to ensure that she would never be heard from until after the 2012 elections, if ever.

It's the Chicago way, boy.

You can add Costa Rica to t... (Below threshold)
George Author Profile Page:

You can add Costa Rica to that list as Obama is supporting recommendations for Honduras from Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. Like ousted Honduras wanna-be dictator Zelaya, the Costa Rican president, too, wants to change his country's constitution to give himself more power and extend his presidency.

To expand on a statement fo... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

To expand on a statement for which I refuse to give attribution - Looks like the American voting population's chickens are comin' home to roost.

Clearly the administration is proceeding with its agenda, which is their right. They don't have to directly, or immediately, respond to our wishes in a representative republic. In another three years the country will again get its opportunity to respond to what the administration has done, where it has taken us, and where it is then taking us. That's our right.

But it breaks my heart to see what our country is being put through by this administration.

Worst President ever.... (Below threshold)
914:

Worst President ever.

Then, on the 60th ... (Below threshold)
Sabba Hillel:
Then, on the 60th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, Obama announces that he's withdrawing the missile shield President Bush had promised the Poles to protect them from Soviet threats.

70th anniversary 1939 - 2009

Unless you conside... (Below threshold)
Unless you consider it in the best interests of the US to have its economy trashed and the social systems overloaded while alienating allies we've had for decades.

In which case it makes perfect sense...

5. Posted by JLawson

Unless, of course, you're Nancy Pelosi, who's complaining he's dragging his feet. Or Harry Ried, who'll come out any day now and claim we've lost another war.

I understand the B... (Below threshold)
Sabba Hillel:
I understand the British Prime Minister included a DVD of "The Argument Clinic" in his last set of gifts to President Obama, but it was encoded for the wrong region, so the message was "lost in translation."
Maybe that was a reference to what Obama did to the British. Of course, that would be too subtle for Obama to understand. I am sure that one of the "three letter agencies" can translate it for him.
"There are nations which th... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"There are nations which threaten our security and we sit easy on them."

Would you elaborate?

The Obama Doctrine, "Cut th... (Below threshold)
davidt:

The Obama Doctrine, "Cut the USA down to size."

I know that he is a pip squ... (Below threshold)
Stan25:

I know that he is a pip squeak but you also forgot that Obama also gave Daniel Ortega a big bear hug at the last Organization of the Americas Summit. This caused quite a stir in certain circles here in the United States

"The Obama Doctrine, "Cut t... (Below threshold)
914:

"The Obama Doctrine, "Cut the USA down to size."

Yes, He has a Kenyan sized economy in mind for us.

JT, not to nitpick, but my ... (Below threshold)
Weegie:

JT, not to nitpick, but my review of the Churchill bust affair was that it was sent on loan to George W Bush after the 9/11 attacks, as a show of solidarity between the two countries, and that the loan had been extended for 4 years after he won re-election.

And I'm not so sure that the criticism of the return was valid, or if it was just something to bash Obama on. Because of that, I tend to dismiss it.

And, as the Telegraph noted, Obama's grandfather was allegedly tortured by the British colonial regime in Kenya during the brutal suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion. Churchill was prime minister at the time.

My conclusion: this is a non-story and the sooner we remove these weak arguments against Obama, the stronger our remaining arguments become.

"this is a non-story"... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"this is a non-story"

Yeah, like giving the Prime Minister DVD's he can't play on their system and to a guy with deteriorating eyesight. Like giving the Queen an iPod loaded with BARRY'S SPEECHES. Like giving the Prime Minister's kids a couple of plastic Marine One helicopters from the White House gift shop. Yep, non-story.

Look at how many terrorists... (Below threshold)
Flu-Bird:

Look at how many terrorists supporting UN thugs that get standing ovations from these miserble UN pigs i mean YASSIR ARAFAT,FIDEL CASTRO,U THANT and other despots

Garand, I was only talking ... (Below threshold)
Weegie:

Garand, I was only talking about the bust incident, not the rest of it. I thought it was pretty obvious.

"I was only talking about t... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"I was only talking about the bust incident, not the rest of it."

Connect the dots. Things don't happen in a vacuum.

Weegie, you might have a po... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Weegie, you might have a point here. As Garand points out, it's consistent with the overall theme, but there is a very plausible alternate explanation.

Only jackasses find the single weak element of an argument and use it to discredit the entire thesis. But there are a lot of jackasses around there.

Should I revisit the topic, I would probably include your notes as a possibly exculpatory explanation of that incident.

J.

If, indeed, Barry is acting... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

If, indeed, Barry is acting in this manner because of something that happened to his grandfather in another country, at another time, it points to his weakness as a leader.

For a similarity, judge Joe Kennedy and his treatment of the Brits and his love for all things German, because of what the Brits did to Ireland.

On the other hand,... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
On the other hand, they're one of our most important trading partners and hold a tremendous amount of our government's debt, so we ought to play nice with them.

I have seen this point made by a variety of people, but it is flat wrong. The fact the we owe China money does not mean that they have a hold over us. Quite the opposite; they need our continued good will in order to get their money. If war were to break out between the two nations, we would obviously stop repaying the loans.

Of course, if we want them to continue to lend us more money in the future, then the onus is on us to stay on their good side so that they don't turn off the money spigot.

Rovin talks of this or that... (Below threshold)

Rovin talks of this or that or the other subject as being "above the pretender to the "presidency's" pay grade.

Is there any that is not?

"Rovin talks of this or tha... (Below threshold)
914:

"Rovin talks of this or that or the other subject as being "above the pretender to the "presidency's" pay grade.

Is there any that is not"

Yes, community organizing.

"community organizing"... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"community organizing"

Judging from past articles I've read, he was a failure at that as well.

Go figure.




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