Thoughts on The Obama Doctrine

Jeffrey Goldberg did a 20 page long article on President Barack Obama’s foreign policy stances hitting mainly topics like Syria, Russia, US-Relations with Asia, Global Warming, etc. Throughout the article Goldberg presses multiple times about his Legacy in regards to Syria. The decision to not attack Assad’s regime to Goldberg is what history will look back and judge as Obama’s moment of truth.  Will Obama’s judgement not to act after Assad’s crossing of “the red line” be seen as a poor, naive judgement call that hurt America’s credibility or, was it a smart, nuanced decision that kept America out of another entrenched conflict? While it was without a doubt one of his biggest decisions Goldberg takes on Obama with more or less familiar talking points that one can expect to ask of the president. While the article gives a spectacular look in to the president’s view of his own decisions I feel that some more interesting talking points are left out that would of been harder and more nuanced for the President to answer.

Obama’s use of drone strikes would have been an interesting nuanced topic to talk about. The word drone was only used twice through the entire article but Goldberg curiously doesn’t ask Obama why he takes actions this way. This is especially odd since Obama claims that meddling in the Middle East is likely to not fix much and he also states that much of what happens there isn’t a direct threat to U.S. interests. It would have been interesting to see Goldberg question Obama as to why these exceptions are made when it comes to drone strikes. Leaving such an obvious, nuanced discussion out of this article seems questionable especially since drone strikes can be used as a recruiting tool by ISIS and the U.S. has been nationally criticized for strikes hitting civilian targets such as Doctors Without Borders hospital, a wedding in Yemeni, schools in Pakistan, etc.

Another discussion left out was a in depth view about Obama’s strong pursuit of better connectivity and relations with Asian countries without talking in detail about the TPP. The TPP, exactly like drones, was only brought up twice throughout this article. Goldberg had the perfect opportunity to talk about criticisms of the TPP and the lack of transparency on the administrations end to publicly talk about the content and needs of the agreement. There is very little room to say this conversation wouldn’t be possible. On multiple occasions Goldberg brought up criticisms of Obama’s decisions on Syria which turned out to be one of the best parts of his article. Seeing the same discussion but on the TPP would have been fruitful for this article. Despite the conversation lacking much mention of the TPP, I am a fan of Obama trying to get more involved in the Asian sphere. Even though his recent lack of wanting to apologize for Hiroshima is a disappointment, as I wrote recently.

It was nice to see Obama take the stance he did and observe his reasoning behind neglecting to attack Syria. The failure of Libya with the possibility of entrenching America in another war makes me agree with the presidents decision to avoid getting highly involved in Syria. His nuanced approach, even if he seemed committed vocally before backing down on his decision to attack, was a smart approach and this idea that it hurt America’s credibility is over blown. Rarely did we hear at the time of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (outside of Bernie Sanders) that these were terrible mistakes that would hurt not only those countries stability, but our country economically. Such were the results, and while critics can say Obama didn’t back up his word they probably weren’t concerned about what the regional consequences of actions would be or the consequences to our country’s economy. Staying out of another entrenched war for me and many other Americans was the better choice (and this is probably proven by Congress’s reluctance to give Obama the green light as well.) Critics like Lindsay Graham and John McCain seem to be slightly hypocritical in their criticisms of Obama’s call not to use executive action to start another war when they would most likely criticize him if he used executive action for other means (Ex: Immigration).

I could got on talking about his stances on Israel’s Prime Minister, Global Warming, etc. but, I’d have to say I agree with most of his other stances. Jeffrey Goldbergs article is very telling and an in depth look at how a sitting President views the decision he has made over the past 7 years.



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