By ann summers
An important date in my lifetime was not an August 30 when I decided to blog regularly, but the red line moment for the Obama decision not to bomb the shit out of Syria over the use of Sarin gas (August 30, 2013, was Obama’s policy liberation day).
This recent discourse on what an Obama (Foreign Policy) Doctrine is/will be should have no effect on sox/rux online discourse given the need for Democratic party solidarity, but it is important to simply see all “Obama = Bush43” claims in their reactionary context.
Greater analysis of the Obama Doctrine will merit more examination only after many decades rather than the less meritorious fiascoes of Bush 43 which are obvious in their MIC duplicity and PNAC hegemony.
Inaction (strategic clock/delay), the conscious, strategic decision to not take tactical military action is the manipulation of iterated policy decision points with respect to action versus inaction resulting in suboptimal equilibria. Such strategy allows long-run policy to follow not simply longitudinal paths but also to view the much longer swings in history as with the Annales School long swings in history. It allows better latitude to learn from the complexity of fluid revolutionary and counterrevolutionry conflicts (Libya & Syria) as well as the stupidity of ham-fisted wars (bomb, bomb Iraq & Iran).
If it seems that the GOP claim of wimpiness in military action on which the neo-con campaigns have been based as a solution since Bush 41 and realized in Bush 43 cannot be disproved except in a much longer time frame. Recent writings tend to weigh more on the need to look at historically longer counterfactual models. For example the Monroe Doctrine is quite different than an MonrObama Doctrine in the Western Hemisphere.
If the decision is an indifference curve between the animal analogies of hawks and doves in a 2×2 matrix, it really is a 3×3 matrix where the game tree includes a variety of Raptors, not the F-22 but rather the Peregrine Falcon who is equally at home in city and country.
That species’ adaptability describes the political economy of the Obama Doctrine — one that will be sustained decades from now as the way that US hegemony acted in a more rhizomatic way to include Asian policy in an extension of a more thoughtful postmodern even post-realist version of a Monroe Doctrine. This would meld political economy and cultural analysis with thinking more ecologically in the history of US international policy.
Middle East policy remains important but it is the surgical and asymmetrical solutions of SpecOp counter-terror and alliance diplomacy that will mark the success of the Obama Doctrine as that kevlar-glove rather than velvet-glove that should mark the Clinton Administration if she listens to the left objections implied by Sanders supporters.
These three pieces from a recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg are necessary to understand the International relations (IR) theories of pragmatism that undergird the Obama Doctrine:
Hillary Clinton, when she was Obama’s secretary of state, argued for an early and assertive response to Assad’s violence. In 2014, after she left office, Clinton told me that “the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad … left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.”
WhenThe Atlantic published this statement, and also published Clinton’s assessment that “great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Obama became “rip-shit angry,” according to one of his senior advisers.
The president did not understand how “Don’t do stupid shit” could be considered a controversial slogan. Ben Rhodes recalls that “the questions we were asking in the White House were ‘Who exactly is in the stupid-shit caucus? Who is pro–stupid shit?’ ”
The Iraq invasion, Obama believed, should have taught Democratic interventionists like Clinton, who had voted for its authorization, the dangers of doing stupid shit. (Clinton quickly apologized to Obama for her comments, and a Clinton spokesman announced that the two would “hug it out” on Martha’s Vineyard when they crossed paths there later.) www.theatlantic.com/…
Fortunately, and to paraphrase Keynes, in la longue durée, we’re all dead.
The area of governance which most suffers from having a term-limit on the Presidency is Foreign Policy. It is necessary to limit how long any President sits in the Oval Office to try to maintain the balance of power between the three branches of government (however out-of-kilter the recent majority of the Supreme Court Justices have pushed it), but having no long-term consistent policies to base our relationships with foreign powers on has led to the mess we’ve helped to create in the Middle East. There are no easy answers, and no quick fixes. And with each succeeding President wanting to put their “legacy” stamp on foreign policy, it’s highly unlikely that any truly “long view” thinking will be behind the choices made either.
indeed, if only W. had thought more about the legacy of forming a UN and not joining the League of Nations rather than “finishing” his father’s war