Articles

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Obama Doctrine

The Obama Doctrine can be summed up as the assertion that for the United States to have influence and standing on the global stage, it must first abandon its interests and its allies.

The doctrine is rarely described as bluntly as that by its proponents who employ euphemisms like multilateral policies and honest broker to mean much the same thing, denouncing the previous administration and all the preceding administrations going back to old Tom Jefferson for alienating the world by pursuing American interests and cutting deals with non-progressive allies.

The easiest way to spot the problem with this approach is to try and distinguish it from the UN. That's hard to do because except during the occasional pro-forma trade dispute there is no distinction. It's the same policy of multilateral human rights interventions, global mediation and stability, and promoting the welfare of the angrier parts of the Third World. And if America's agenda is identical to that of the United Nations, than for all intents and purposes there is no American foreign policy.

This leaves the United States as less than a nation, a version of the United Nations with its own military and a great deal of wealth. It has no interests except reaching out to befriend its enemies and it has no allies except those enemies willing to pretend to be its allies, at which point they will become enemies. But the United Nations was designed to be a forum in which nations pursue their own interests, it is not supposed to have interests or allies. The United States is a nation and it is meant to have both. If the United States cannot articulate interests apart from the UN agenda then it no longer functions as a nation on the world stage.

The Obama Doctrine dispensed with America's traditional allies and pursued relations with its enemies without improving America's standing or influence in the world, though it did garner its overseer a preemptive Nobel Prize. Even the Libyan War was more of a European project than an American one.

The truth that dare not speak its name in the ink stained pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post is that the Obama Administration has been standing by the sidelines of world events with a very limited influence on what happens anywhere. The United States will not decide what happens in Syria. France, Germany, Qatar and England will decide what they want to do and will allow Obama to sign on if he wants to. Exactly the way it happened in Libya.

The United States still has mass, but it no longer has momentum. It does things like abandon Mubarak or bomb Gaddafi because other countries think they are a good idea. It responds belatedly to events from the outside world and then does its best to take credit for them.

Part of that is inexperience. The White House is headed up by a junior Senator who was a State Senator five years before he ran for the highest office in the land.  The Secretary of State is a former First Lady who spent eight years in the Senate before doing the same thing and then oddly enough landed as head of the country's foreign office. But it's not all of it.

The real problem is that the United States no longer has national interests. Its leaders act like they are the Secretary General of the UN, rather than the President of the United States. They jostle for standing on the world stage and play international philosophers preaching higher principles to the world, instead of looking out for their own country. Rather than representing the United States, they speak for some global ethical consensus on human rights and democracy.

The problem did not begin with Obama. LBJ may have been the last president who was satisfied with being a national leader, rather than an international leader, but it significantly worsened with Obama because he lacks even the vestigial allegiances that Biden or Kerry retain on some level. If they think like Americans at some gut level, Obama doesn't and he has no reason to. He is the figurehead of an ideology that champions an end to American interests.

The Obama Doctrine has not actually repaired America's foreign relations or made the world a better place. What it has done is taken American interests off the table.

The Reset Button did nothing to aid American relations with Russia. Abandoning Eastern Europe did not fix anything, because the problem was not that America was in Russia's backyard, (that might have been the problem under Yeltsin) but that Russia was run by a clique of thugs whose foreign policy was aligned with their interests. By abandoning America's allies in Eastern Europe, we did not create a new state of relations with Russia, we just got out of its way.

The same thing has happened around the world as the United States has gotten out of the way of the agendas and interests of our enemies, and in some cases actively aided and abetted their agendas, with entirely predictable results. In South America, in Europe, in Asia and the Middle East, the new policy has yielded dividends for those nations and causes hostile to us. It hasn't yielded any for us.

Abandoning American allies in the name of being an "Honest Broker" has not won us the respect of the world or made our enemies any friendlier. Alliances are based on mutual interests. Abandoning our alliances makes us more toxic than ever and even if our enemies were interested in approaching us, why would they when we have already demonstrated that an alliance with us is worthless?

The Honest Broker paradigm makes no sense on a national level. If we act as an honest broker between our allies and our enemies, then we have abandoned our allies and devalued the very idea of an alliance with us. And acting as an honest broker between warring allies is a thankless job that will not yield any benefits and infuriate both sides.

Advocates for honest brokerhood insist that it is in our national interest to be an honest broker. But nations aren't brokers, they are friends and enemies, they are buyers and sellers. Only international organizations can be brokers, and they generally aren't honest ones either. A nation with its own interests can never be an honest broker. Only by abandoning its interests can it play at being an honest broker and then it is no longer a nation.

Democrats positioned their post-Bush foreign policy as a soft power quest to be liked, but being liked is not a national interest. Not only are very few nations liked and those nations are usually obscure and far away, but being liked means that they have never come into conflict, which is another way of saying that they either have no national interests to pursue or do have national interests but do not pursue them.

National interests are often competitive. For a country to assert its own rights and agendas is to earn the enmity of those nations they conflict with. To have allies and friends is to earn the enmity of their enemies. Even to exist as a large nation on any terms is to earn the wrath of those nations whose aspire to your status.

To act in any way is to alienate. Everything the Obama Administration has done to be liked has made more enemies. Bombing Libya to win the favor of the Arab Street still infuriated that same street which wanted Gaddafi gone, but didn't want America to do it. Playing Honest Broker between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands has certainly earned the anger of the UK. The lesson here is that doing anything still creates enemies. There is no pure path will not alienate anyone which is why the path you choose should be based on practical interests, not a need to be liked.

The Obama Doctrine is completely detached from American interests and even hostile to American interests. Its goal is to overcome a legacy of American power and replace it with multilateral powerlessness and the only real end of that objective is more of the same. Multilateral powerlessness is not a means of better representing American interests as its advocates tries to claim, it is a policy that terminates the very notion of American interests as too selfish and alienating to have a place on the world stage.

This is not meant to be a surrender of power. Like European national leaders who aspire to regional leadership, the Obamas and the Clintons aren't interested in being powerless, they would just rather represent an international consensus, rather than a national one. They would like an upgrade from being the elected leaders of farmers and businessmen to the unelected leaders of the world. But for all their shiny diplomas, they are too basically dim to understand that their status and influence is derived from the status and influence of their nation.

The Secretary General of the United Nations is impotent because he represents no one. The UN has no national base and accordingly it is every bit as useless as the League of Nations was. Obama has tried to act like a United Nations Secretary General, rather than an American president, and he has reduced his status and power to something closer to that of the Secretary General. If Obama did not have a military to throw into the pot every time select members of the international community decide to bomb someone, his status would be even lower.

International power is still national power projected internationally. International power without a national base is a fantasy akin to perpetual motion that exists only in the frontal lobe of the schizophrenic progressive. Take the nation out of the equation and all you have are empty words, which is what Obama's speeches amount to.

The only power that Obama has exercised internationally has been purely negative, the abandonment of American allies and interests. This self-destructive national wrist slitting campaign has not made America more influential, because by definition abandoning power cannot give you power. And that is the fallacy of the Obama Doctrine which chops down the American tree in order to build a castle in the air on top of it.

Like everything that the left does, the Obama Doctrine is self-nullifying, both in concept and in practice, the very exercise of it eventually destroys the thing itself. The problem is that as with so much the left does, the damage spreads inward so that the perpetrators of the policies are the last to feel its effects. A self-destructive ideology destroys everything it touches until its pursuit of power at the highest levels leaves even the highest levels powerless.

22 comments:

Lemon said...

This is the goal of the communist infiltrator, the Manchurian candidate, to bring down the USA as quickly as possible.
Why don't people see it.
This guy is not a failure. He is succeeding very nicely with the agenda beloved by Alinsky and Ayers and their ilk.

mindRider said...

Re-reading some of your older posts (at the threshold of Obama's rule) amazing what prophetic insight of the development of his policies thru analysis you showed to posses.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I see ban ki moon's pronouncements reported breathlessly on the news, I think "who gives a sh*t what he says? Pointless waste of space".

Michael LeFavour said...

Mr Greenfield,

You are quickly becoming my favorite writer. Thank you for ripping the mask from the face of evil and saying the things that I wish I had the talent to say.

Michael LeFavour

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love your stuff SK. It pulls my heart strings....and sometime I almost feel like I use to about America.

My problem is, I have slowly but surely been hardening my heart to the United States, and a good share of the electorate.

I have quit thinking there is any future here. Obama was elected by Americans I have zero respect for-and in fact loathe to the core.

As you have stated, we are run by sociopaths. Republican, Democrat and you name it. Uncle Sam is beyond the point of taking on water...we are two thirds in the drink. We are bust of morality, fiscal sobriety and the spirit which made this nation the absolute best.

Your essays are terrific. They drive me into gloom.

Anonymous said...

Just saw a link on Twitter for this. Wow! You have nailed it my friend. Well done.

vladtepes2 said...

Obama's foreign policy has all the juvenile airiness of a Miss America, who when asked what she wants, answers "world peace".
If it's not a true description of what Obama really wants, then it's a statement of the objective he feigns in order to appeal to the "airheaded" part of his constituency.
His foreign policy has all the intellectual depth of a fourth grade book report ( well, maybe now it would be a twelfth grade book report, I'm from an earlier generation ).

Obama was elected because he got the votes of an element of the American voting population that is just as hostile to true American interests as he is.
An element within America that does not identify itself as American.
An element that feels excluded and feels it can never really be accepted, can never really be a part of America.
An element that feels forever rejected by traditional American power.
An element that sees it can never measure up, and so responds by tearing down.
An element that feels that it has been "put upon" by the traditional American power it sees around it in it's daily life and so now does everything it can to diminish and destroy American power wherever it can.
An element that allies itself with any other non-American group that seems to be at odds with America and so Obama, as representative of that element, allies himself with the enemies of America.

This is the element that he caters to, or pretends to cater to, and it is the element that he works to expand at every opportunity.
One of those opportunities is to allow more of the people he truly represents in across the border, no questions asked, because he knows the answer to the only important question, "who will they vote for?" is Obama, of course, and that's all that's important to Obama, because it gives him power, and POWER is what he really wants.
The power of the alienated, underclass, foreign, dispossessed, enemies and haters of traditional America and what America used to stand for.

dwight said...

The insights of this blog are close to attaining a Churchillian resonance---with our here and our now---in this time and this place---of these United States---and in the Eretz of Zionism.

I'm dumb-founded. My mind reels with implications that hadn't been apparent to me just minutes ago. I'm an essayist and a thinker. But I find myself gasping at the metaphors exploding in the night sky before me---one after another. I'm grasping for words. Dare I speak further?

Mr. Greenfield, you are a true prosecutor of justice and righteousness. And the insights that you promulgate are not your own---your words, yes---but spoken in the presence of the Judge of heaven and earth. I pray that Hashem keeps flattery far from you as you see what you see, and say what you say---lest you suddenly find yourself on all fours, eating grass like a domestic animal.

My heart goes out to Anonymous who says, "...sometime I almost feel like I use to about America." Please---read back through the posts of Sultan Knish---the theme is not one of gloom, or cynicism, or nihilism, or even despair. It is one of humble resolve. We have a war to prosecute---and Mr. Greenfield has a way of explaining how to fight---the right way---the good fight. Not like one commenter to one of SK's posts once said, only half in jest I think, "Will somebody just tell me who to shoot?" Even when SK uses ridicule it's for good reason---there is no sneering cynicism here. If Mr. Greenfield had considered that remark worthy of a response I imagine he might have said something to this effect: "Well, you can start by shooting yourself in the head---and if that doesn't work we'll try something else, OK?" Read-on, Anonymous---and read-back. And go forward with us into the battles ahead.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Michael, thank you

Anonymous, yes most of the people of a country can be manipulated into making bad decisions. It's not new. Remember the one about "being able to fool the people some of the time". Well this is some of the time, it's not permanent unless they succeed in their quest to alter the country at a base level. Which is what we are fighting against. The darkness isn't here yet and we can still bring back the light.

Anon 2, thank you

Vlad, that is his base certainly, but he could not have won if he had not tricked a sizable portion of the country into also believing that he does not stand for any of those things. That is where his weakness lies.

Dwight, thank you. I just try to do what I can along with other people to try and make a difference.

Linda Rivera said...

America and our allies are HATED. America's enemies are LOVED.
G-d HELP America.

Truth Seeker said...

I have to disagree that Obama is just sitting on the sidelines of foreign affairs..He is very actively weakening the US. He is also actively surrounding Israel with enemies..One glaring example that stands out is the way he ignored the Iranian people when they protested against their government ( Iran is the sworn enemy of Israel hellbent on its destruction )But when the Egyptian people protested he said Mubarak has to step down..He is stoking the fires of WWIII in the final push for OWG..

Keliata said...

Lemon: I couldn't agree more. I've felt that way about Obama from the get-go.

This is going way out on a limb but we can only pray that Obama or some other Communist infiltrator should rook the US into joining the Eurozone or whatever it is (apparently different from the EU, I guess).

Our saving grace is that we have our own currency, otherwise we'd be in the horrible position Greece is in right now. Greece and those other nations never signed up to put their independence up for grabs.

This whole international "prosperity through austerity" thing is terrifying. Let's hope and pray we're never sucked into a financial mess like this with Europe.

I don't think that's gotten much coverage on mainstream TV in the US. Anyway, all I can do is be greatful we're not part of the Eurozone and do have our own currency.

occupant 9 said...

Another fantastic piece Mr. Greenfield; a read-aloud to all within earshot.

The sealed records of Obama's past are not accidental but they are unprecedented as is the general media silence and acquiescence to the high state of secrecy. Ironically, this behaviour reveals more about Obama by trying to hide it.

The worst is yet to come regarding Obama. He is not out to achieve what his predecessors did, but to undo it.

Apparently, the USA has laws, checks and balances that were made especially for times like these.

Geoffrey Britain said...

"Like European national leaders who aspire to regional leadership, the Obamas and the Clintons aren't interested in being powerless, they would just rather represent an international consensus, rather than a national one."

Yes, it's called transnationalism, of which Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and many others of the progressive left are strong proponents.

Yoram Hazony, in an outstanding post entitled, Israel Through European Eyes convincingly shows how it applies to Israel as well; "the idea of the nation-state has not flourished in the period since the establishment of Israel. On the contrary, it has pretty much collapsed. With the drive toward European Union, the nations of Europe have established a new paradigm in which the sovereign nation-state is no longer seen as holding the key to the well-being of humanity. On the contrary, the independent nation-state is now seen by many intellectuals and political figures in Europe as a source of incalculable evil, while the multinational empire—the form of government which John Stuart Mill had singled out as the very epitome of despotism—is now being mentioned time and again with fondness as a model for a post-national humanity."

It is a foolish philosophical reaction to the horrors of war but it is currently fashionable on the left. Reasoned, objective analysis of its obvious consequences is of course, anathema to liberals, who are all about feelings and to the left, who are all about power.

will to live said...

Seems to me you are happy about it.

Greg RN said...

The real tragedy is that the average American can't comprehend this fall. How can one begin to assess the damage the Clintonesque
mindset has done to our Nation. You nailed it with the Derivative statement, none of these people would be anything if they were not simply chance Americans, the fact they wreaked such havoc for personal gain reflects the incompetence of the American voter.
Blindness.

sestamibi said...

vladtepes2 said it far more eloquently than I ever could.

I would add to that only the observation that what still goes by "USA" is far more non-white and of Third World origin--as a matter of public policy. Such individuals not only have no loyalty to "USA" but are in fact actively hostile to it.

As more of them arrive and we make no effort to turn the tide, we can expect more elected officials to toe an explicitly anti-American line.

TBS said...

Vladtepes2 -
your post is right, but there are some things I think you have not considered.
Obama got elected because, as well as being charismatic and a good performer,
He campaigned to the smallest person, assutring them their votes, and their smallest donations, mattered to his campaign and to "hope" and "change".
He did some cheatin' and fiddlin' but he has outreached to people with all the community organising tools at his disposal and it worked.

What did the Republicans do? Didn't know how to talk to "the people".
Didn't and still don't know how to mobilise people with even the smallest of pockets and interests.
McCain, despite his miltary record, did not reach out to all, did not say things that resonated with electors and did not compete well. He had no message to show the strength of his position and persona.

Do they train Republicans, Young Republicans, Baby Republicans?
Their outreach is appalling, their methods antiquated, they can barely scrape a few candidates together.
In Australia we are in a similar if not worse position - the Opposition to our Marxist Govt is pathetic an apathetic - not in terms of Parliamentary debate, but in terms of grassroots campaigning.

There is more to winning an election that just looking good, and Obama utilises ALL channels, moving this year to data-mining.

People may get the government
they deserve, but if one party presents a campaigning vacuum, the other will fill it, maybe with lies and fantasy, but they will win on the basis of presence and being there, as well as the message.
That's what I have learned in the electoral cycle of the last few years.

Sultan, as always, a sterling article. Incidentally, you mmay be amused to know that the Guardian recommeds a holiday for Obama and th Chinese VP, hosted by our Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, Obama wannabe and also a UNSecretaryGeneral wannabe.
http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/timblair/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/snorkel_diplomacy/

Kevin was our PM for a year or two and basically copied all Obama's campaigns here (eg cash for clunkers, stimulus package etc), thus sending our country into recession territory.

His party Labor, which displaced him into the Foreign Minister role, has succeeded in killing a series of businesses and industries in their establishment of a carbon tax.

Anonymous said...

We all may have been missing one point which is in the first sentence. ..."for the United States to have influence and standing on the world stage" ...
assumes that Obama actually cares about America or Americans. He does not. The sentence should read ..."for OBAMA to have influence and standing on the world stage"... I would guarantee that his, his wife's and their extensive entourage see themselves as on only the FIRST STEP towards a WORLD influencing position. If there was a President of the World, he would be running. There is nothing the Obama's would enjoy more than swanning around the world as some sort of international POWER BROKERS that never need to stand for anything but themselves. America is only a stepping stone to them and one that has to be brought down to make The Obamas seem all the bigger.There is no heroism there. Americans have been duped by some very small potatoes.

Anonymous said...

We are now a new 3rd world country. Great article, we need more honest reporting like yours.

DeAnn_1 said...

If you don't have enemies, you don't have character-Paul Newman
Insecure People want to please everyone.
The last trait we need in a President.
A perfect analysis of a tragically weak Leader of the Free world.

DeAnn_1 said...

If you don't have enemies you have no character- Paul Newman
You are a very smart man...probably the best piece I've read on twitter.

Post a Comment