MANILA – Almost 100 days at the White House now, President Barack Obama is reported as already moving American foreign policy in â€œa new direction.â€
And it is becoming the â€œObama Doctrine,â€ E. J. Dionne Jr., professor of political science at Georgetown University, wrote in The Washington Post.
Just exactly what does Dionne mean by that? That the 44th POTUS has managed to evolve a foreign policy blueprint in such a short time, already?
[ad#featuredpost160x600]Obama may be very intelligent and very charismatic, but I doubt that he has already reached such a high level of decision-making and efficiency, much more evolve such a â€œdoctrine,â€ in less than four months in the Oval Office.
Like other Obama-watchers, I don?t think even his attendance in summits in Europe and South America, rubbing elbows with European leaders and shaking hands with South American caudillos, would have helped him in drawing up such a new foreign policy approach.
Anyway, letâ€™s consider Prof. Dionneâ€™s reading of Obamaâ€™s remarkable intellectual feat. Unlike the Bush administrationâ€™s approach, he wrote, Obama departs from it by â€œembracing a longer tradition of American foreign policy.”
This time, the professor noted, Obama is insisting that the United States canâ€™t achieve great objectives on its own, even though it is â€œalways harder to forge true partnerships and sturdy alliances than to act alone,” as Obama quite recently put it in a speech in Strasbourg, France.
Dionne goes on: â€œThis may break with George W. Bushâ€™s style, particularly at the level of rhetoric, and especially during Bushâ€™s first term â€œ but it is in keeping with the traditions of Roosevelt, Truman and George H.W. Bush. Obama insists that we do not have unlimited resources to do whatever we want, whenever we want to. We have to make choices.
The â€œObama Doctrine,â€ I gather from Dionneâ€™s article, seeks to regain the worldâ€™s sympathy by acknowledging that while the United States is a great nation built on worthy principles, we are not perfect.
This did not sit well with Paul Wehner of Commentary magazine. He expressed his discomfort with â€œthe ease and eagerness with which he (Obama) criticized America and fellow Americans. He said he got â€œa queasy feeling” from the growing sense that Obama is willing to denigrate the country he represents in order to boost his own personal popularity in other countries.
What exactly did Obama say in his Strasbourg speech? He spoke of times â€œwhere America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.â€
To Wehner, Obamaâ€™s words meant that he would run down America for his personal benefit. Other conservatives share his reading that Obama was aggrandizing himself.
But Dionne, a certified liberal elitist, reminded them that Obama offered his apology to the Europeans as a prelude to criticism of the Europeans, â€œanti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be Insidious, which fail to recognize the good that America has so often does in the world,” and instead chose â€œto blame America for much of whatâ€™s bad.”
In short, Dionne pointed out, Obama was making a shrewd pro-American argument: â€œWeâ€™ll acknowledge our mistakes, but you need to admit yours.â€
Obamaâ€™s doctrine, Dionne concluded, is â€œa form of realism unafraid to deploy American power, but mindful that its use must be tempered by practical limits and a dose of self-awareness. Those are the limits that defenders of the recent past have trouble accepting.”
All I can say at this moment in time is that Mr. Obama, judging by his thoughts as gleaned from his Strasbourg speech and â€œdoctrine,â€ is just as much an embodiment of liberal America as Mr. GWB was of conservative America!