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10:23AM

Esquire's Politics Blog: Battle: The Real Obama Doctrine Emerges

In 2008, Barack Obama ran against the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive, unilateralist war. His presidency, he assured us, would be different. And once he took office, it certainly was. One "apology tour" and Nobel Peace Prize later, the Obama Doctrine, such as it was, consisted of telling everyone and anyone that America was winding up its wars, pulling down its military tents, and going home — where it was going to be "renewed," "rebuilt" and so on. His National Security Strategy said it all: "Building at home, shaping abroad." Spot the focus; spot the window dressing. "Shaping" is a military term of art referring to anything other than actual warfare.

It was awfully darn close to Barack Obama promising never to do another Iraq, another Afghanistan — another anything.

And now we're bombing Libya.

So what happened?

Read the entire post at Esquire's The Politics Blog.

Reader Comments (14)

So how will the Obama Doctrine work in the face of reneging and back-peddling by all those people that had to sign off? That's what we're seeing now, from the Arab League, the Gulf states (e.g. changing from providing fighter planes to 'support'), Turkey, some other NATO states, etc.

The problem I've always had with ideas of bringing in the rest of the world to operations like these is how do we actually get -their- boots on the ground? Pakistan is demonstrating the problems with the "agree in private/disagree in public" approach we seem to accept from at least some allies.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Emery

I am not buying the genius part, at least not to that degree. It seemed pretty easy to me to hold off while the "emotional need" grew providing cover internationally and domestically. I cant imagine the other members didnt know they were being manipulated. Fact, he got a coalition. Thats a win. The future depends on if he can hold them together. Showing signs of fracture already, he has to rise to the top leadership position or become the Dowager behind the throne to do that. But, he has to bump the "pretenders" out of the way to do it, or simply let them fail and then seem to rescue them. How deep does he scheme? Does he want them to try, fail and feel so weak it elveates the US? Can he channel olde time Chinese methodology? Or, is he the "War is Bad" person he campaigned as?

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob Johnson

Its a good piece in general, but i think that it gives Obama more credit than he deserves. He did the right thing in the end, but i think anglo-french axis should get more credit by first calling spade a spade and then actually walking the walk. Obama was more reactive than proactive in this situation. The "Venusian" Europe is finally finding its "martian" side (to use Kagan's work ), or maybe Sarko and Cameron red Tom's books and decided to act as Old Core grown ups.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanko Prester

The rapid pace of recent world events reminds me of Bruce Springsteen's song "We Didn't Start the Fire." The "updates" flashing across the T.V. screen seem like they might be coming from a Saturday Night Live routine. Then I see Sara Palin in Israel and I know I must be watching SNL.

Well, we sure are making the North Koreans and the Iranians nervous. We put together a pretty nifty military mission in a matter of days. Amazing stuff. I will be thinking about those million dollar cruise missiles when I see my tax guy next week.

Unfortunately, this game looks like it will be over as soon as we "foul out." The subs just can't hack it. The Brits and the French have just one aircraft carrier between them. The Colonel is probably trying to figure out how he can blow up the "Chunnell" to get even. It's a good thing for the Brits that the IRA has given up the armed struggle. Libya supplied them with most of their explosives during the "troubles."

Bottom line...we are bombing and killing Muslims again.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTed O'Connor

Actually Ted it is Billy Joel, not Bruce.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick O'Connor

Not only that, it was the #1 hit on 31 Dec 1989.

Joel had the #1 hit (don't know which) on 1 Jan 1980, making him first artist to open and close a decade at #1.

Teachers actually used the song to teach history, as I remember it.

March 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterThomas P.M. Barnett

Speak softly and carry a big stick.

I like the Obama/90s responses better then anything seen during Bush II years. No matter how you cut it people will be angry and decry American force. The key difference I find is how you go about it. I feel a lot more comfortable with the demand coming from the world instead of us forcing change without consent.

Now I wouldn't mind finding a way to bill the rest of the world for our military services. Seems really odd that the richest 2% enjoy ridiculous tax breaks, and teachers are getting worked over, while we attack yet another country. If we really are out of money, then how can we maintain costly military campaigns with an aging population without some sort of outside fiscal assistance?

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua Sterns

We tend to forget that WWII was a coaltion effort that was effectively a war fought by committee. Most of the top staff for D-Day were British - only 2 were American (Bradley and Beedell Smith). With a patient leader like Ike, it can work very well, even though it frustrated more aggressive nationalists like Patton.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterstuart abrams

A Billboard search reveals that Joel's It's Still Rock and Roll was number one in July of 1980. On Jan 1 it was the Pina Colada song which is understandable that anyone would want to forget. Quite right that Joel alone bookended the decade with Number Ones.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick O'Connor

I stand corrected. I had heard that from a VH-1 memory show. They must have just been saying a #1 hit in first and last year of decade.

Actually, I was a big Joel fan but didn't care for his turn toward do-whatever.

Saw him on 52nd Street tour. First real music concert for me. First real concert was Steve Martin's I'm and Wild and Crazy Guy Tour.

March 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterThomas P.M. Barnett

We tend to forget that WWII was a coaltion effort that was effectively a war fought by committee. A couple comments here:
1. This was still a very difficult relationship. There's a lot of good books on the alliance at this level, I'd point to "Masters and Commanders" as one of the best. (http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Commanders-Four-Titans-1941-1945/dp/0061228583/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300904159&sr=8-1) I'm not sure anyone in the current leadership (military or political) rises to the level of Churchill, Roosevelt, Marshall and Brooke. (Of the 4, Brooke has been the hardest for me to appreciate, but I still think he's worthy of a seat at that table of extraordinary gentlemen.)

2. It was the "special alliance" that formed between the US and UK, and not a broader alliance. DeGaulle was barely on speaking terms with a lot of the Allied command most of the time. Stalin mostly did his own thing (including badgering both US and UK). And Churchill was unique in his ability to understand and cater to US interests.

3. The overall war aims, Unconditional Surrender for the Axis powers, was never really in doubt. (That's certainly not the case with any of our current conflicts.)

So lessons from WWII on coalition warfare need to be carefully examined in the context of the much broader coalitions we're trying to form these days.

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Emery

Interesting article and in context with Joseph Nye's (The Future of Power) present concept of POWER WITH OTHERS vice the former concept of POWER OVER OTHERS. Seeking collaboration and empowering others to contribute. What is unfortunate is the by-default discovery of this by President Obama instead of a more desired by-design approach of this strategy.

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob Killackey

OK, so this is a move to re-establish the process of broadly supported intervention. What then become the situations this process is applied to?

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Tagariello

Mike,
This process appies each time of a major political strife event (Ivory Coast) in the economic gap countries (below 3000 GDP/Capita) or in situations along the seam (between 3000 to 10000 GDP/Capita) excluding nuclear powers like Russia/China/India, close/medium powers like Mexico/South Africa/Turkey/Indonesia/Philippines, and middle east monarchies Saudia Arabia (G-20)/Kuwait/Qatar/Bahrain/Morocco.
The middle east republics are open for cooperation, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
I think the difference is major, obvious killing (beyond 1000 people per event) like Libya vs. disconnected starvation by one person (Iraq) and how cooperation evolves from the US initial and short overwhelming military effort and who contributes the 2nd half transition forces for 5 years.
Obviously, it is better to not use the US military at all and go straight to the occupation/transition with 10% US participation and 90% everyone else, cheaper, more respected, and no killing (like Balkans in 1995 and 1999). Although, gap nations now require many people for occupation/transion for 5 years which no one wants to do anymore. For instance, Afghanistan (704,000 for no violence or 25 per 1000 people, currently at 480,000 with US/NATO/Afghanistan forces), Yemen (590,000 currently 65,000 Yemeni Army), Somalia (228,000 currently at 50,000 AU peacekeepers), and my favorite, Pakistan (4.2 million currently 900,000 Pakistan army). These four situations represent where between 2000 (Yemen) and 12000 (Afghanistan) people per year are dying of war or starvation. The difference between Libya and these situations is that 3000 to 10000 people passed away in 3 weeks.
A little about expense too, shortening a civil war (avg 7 years) by 1 year saves 20 billion in economic losses for 10 billion invested. How about 65 million saved in economic losses by troop contribution for 5-8 years and never having gap nation fight again? The middle east monarchies will need their wealth to feed their people, create 100 million jobs in 20 years before world steps away from oil (US only gets less than 25% of oil from gulf) and fix Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia. The US simply needs the people with 1 million man armies to have a peaceful occupation/transition, namely, China/Russia/India, and Turkey.
Think about the US spending half of the 700 billion on defense for peacekeeping operations in our interest like West Africa, Central Africa, and South Asia. I still think this warfare and famine BS end by Jan 1, 2040 anyway since once a country gets above 3000 GDP/Capita internal strife goes away for the most part. Calculating economic growth of the gap nations does see all of them achieving this by 2040.
Thanks.
Derek

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDerek Bergquist

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