Despite the efforts of many to define an “Obama Doctrine” outlining a clear foreign policy agenda for the White House, geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer completely dismantled that notion in a recent column for Reuters.
“The closest thing that Obama has to a foreign policy doctrine is the consistent lack thereof,” writes Bremmer, comparing the “passive-aggressive” foreign policy outlook to that of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Many pointed to Obama’s recent speech at West Point as a clear statement of his views, where he argued to keep the military out of global issues if there was not a direct threat to the U.S.
“When crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction but do not directly threaten us — then the threshold for military action must be higher,” Obama said.
But that, Bremmer notes, is rather inconsistent with the massive uptick in drone strikes during his presidency that have breached the territorial sovereignty of many countries. And with his latest speech on Iraq, he announced that he would not send U.S. combat troops back into Iraq, despite the rise of ISIS and the conflict rapidly devolving into a true threat.
Bremmer’s column reveals many contradictions in Obama’s response to world events, which he called a “Jekyll and Hyde” approach.
Many have criticised his foreign policy, as Bremmer and other critics view Obama as more focused on domestic politics and less interested in global leadership. A poll in May found at least half of Americans disapproved of his overall approach to world affairs.
“This is a risk-averse president who is unlikely to take bold strokes,” Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East adviser to Republican and Democratic administrations, told Reuters in May. “And he faces a series of problems in which quick-and-easy American fixes are really not available.”
Interestingly, one of the most scathing reviews came from former State Department official Vali Nasr last year, who after having a firsthand look at Obama’s approach, criticised his foreign policy decisions as being funneled through a “small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisors whose turf was strictly politics.”
“Barack Obama and Xi Jinping have fundamental inconsistencies at the heart of their foreign policies,” Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, writes. “They are undermining their countries’ long-term health. For allies and neighbours, it’s the worst of both worlds. They can’t rely on the world’s two most powerful countries for global leadership, and yet they still need to account for them engaging unpredictably and unilaterally overseas.”
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