The Obama Doctrine

Ken AshfordElection 2008, Foreign Affairs, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

Good article in TAP about "The Obama Doctrine".  While both Obama and Clinton appear to be similar on the Iraq War (they both want out), Obama seems to be going the extra mile in arguing that he wants to change the mindset that got us into Iraq in the first place.  The article looks at the Obama mindset on foreign policy and calls it "most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we’ve heard from a serious presidential contender in decades".

Ezra Klein sums it up nicely:

The Bush administration has run a foreign policy utterly comfortable with implying that our allies and enemies alike are small, or powerless, or unworthy of respect. In other words, they’ve run a foreign policy comfortable with challenging our allies and enemies alike to prove to us that they are not small, and can in fact foil our initiatives, and they are not powerless, and can in fact hurt us quite badly, and are not unworthy of respect, and can in fact outmaneuver us diplomatically. A foreign policy based on a presumption of respect and an effort to use our power to confer dignity would be pretty appealing.

Respecting our enemies, and treating them as though have have a say, strikes me as a reasonable approach, if only because it is something we haven’t tried before.  This does not mean we need to cave.  It just means that if we treat them like they have no reason to be heard, they will make themselves heard.  Just like 9/11.