Wednesday, September 25, 2013

For Obama, an Evolving Doctrine on Foreign Policy -

For Obama, an Evolving Doctrine on Foreign Policy - For five years, President Obama has publicly struggled with the question of when America is willing to act as the world’s policeman, and when he will insist that others take the lead, or at least share the risks, costs and resentments it engenders.

He surged forces into Afghanistan only to quickly reverse himself, speeding the withdrawal with the declaration that “it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.” He briefly joined the fight to halt a slaughter in Libya, but left quickly and refused to go into Syria, a far more complex civil war he saw as nothing but a potential quagmire.

His speech Tuesday at the United Nations signaled how what some have called the Obama Doctrine is once again evolving.

In his first term, that doctrine was defined by Mr. Obama’s surprising comfort in using military force to confront direct threats to the United States. But he split with his predecessor George W. Bush in his deep reluctance to use American power in long, drawn-out conflicts where national interests were remote and allies were missing.

At the United Nations on Tuesday, Mr. Obama drove home the conclusion that he came to after his own party deserted him over a military response to the chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1,000 Syrians: The bigger risk for the world in coming years is not that the United States will try to build empires abroad, he argued, but that there will be a price to be paid in chaos and disorder if Americans elect to stay home.