The Obama Doctrine

This is from Victor Davis Hanson in what he calls, Obama’s Recessional. There’s nothing about this I find exceptional other than no one seems to care. It ought to frighten the daylights out of Australians sitting out here in the South Pacific but life does seem to go on. This is Hanson summing up Obama’s foreign policy strategy.

The Obama Doctrine is a gradual retreat of the American presence worldwide — on the theory that our absence will lead to a vacuum better occupied by regional powers that know how to manage their neighborhood’s affairs and have greater legitimacy in their own spheres of influence. Any damage that might occur with the loss of the American omnipresence does not approximate the harm already done by American intrusiveness. The current global maladies — Islamist terrorism, Middle Eastern tensions, Chinese muscle-flexing, Russian obstructionism, resurgence of Communist autocracy in Latin America — will fade once the United States lowers its profile and keeps out of other nations’ business.

There is always a balance of forces that asserts itself. It’s basically, you’re on your own except that with Obama, his foreign policy is essentially to support America’s former ideological enemies and abandon its friends. Where, then, do you suppose that leaves Australia? But Hanson also transfers the Obama Doctrine to domestic policy as well.

For Obama, America abroad is analogous to the 1 percent at home. We need not squabble over the reasons why the wealthiest Americans enjoy unequal access to the things money can buy, or why America, of all nations, finds itself with unmatched global clout and influence. The concern is only that such privilege exists; that it is unfair; that it has led to injustice for the majority; and that it must be changed.

Obama, of course, cannot issue a global tax aimed at the United States. He cannot easily expand U.S. foreign aid as a sort of reparations. And he cannot craft the international equivalent of Obamacare. But he does seek the same sort of redistributive readjustment to America’s presence abroad that he does to some Americans at home — in the interests of fairness, equality, and social justice.

Just as the United States would be a lot better place if a few million were not so rich, so too the world would be better off if the United States — and to a lesser extent Europe — were not so powerful and interventionist.

Obama is a man of shallow thoughts and great hatreds. Describing anything that Obama does as a “doctrine” gives it more credit than it deserves. But there are no doubt instinctual attitudes and reactions to specific events and they are more than evident, and if you want to call them a doctrine, be my guest. But whatever you call the structure of America’s foreign and economic policies, they are re-shaping the world. Time moves more rapidly than you think. In this century 911 and the Global Financial Crises are the two most momentous events. In their wake, the world is different now and if we are thinking either who will be the most powerful nation on the planet or where will wealth creation be at its most rapid twenty years from now, what’s your guess? That things will be as they are today is nowhere near even a fifty per cent chance.

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