Sunday, July 12, 2015

Is there an Obama Doctrine -- or not? It Matters if You are a U.S. Citizen Decision-Maker re Iran, Trans-Pacific Partnership, 2016 Election, Etc., Etc., Etc.

In my world, there is an Obama Doctrine and it has been and is being implemented by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry.

Many say there is no “Obama Doctrine,” including some I have a great deal of respect for, but I beg to differ. I think the “no Obama Doctrine” conclusion is often drawn because it cannot be explained via clever messaging like: The Monroe Doctrine (no more European colonization in America); The Truman Doctrine (supporting the fight against Communism) or The Carter Doctrine (protecting U.S. Interests in the Persian Gulf) but an inability to message a sound bite to the masses does not render an Obama Doctrine non-existent – it just leaves us to draw our own conclusions based on a vision that flows from the top.

Conclusions drawn will vary based on priorities and knowledge bases juxtaposed with experiences and interests. I, for example, have followed President Obama closely and I am very interested in the challenges of living in a “global world” so when I first heard candidate Barack Obama express a foreign policy vision predicated on engagement, with an eye toward a safer, more successful United States as a result, I took notice.

It has become the lens through which I view all of what he says and does because, as noted, the Obama Doctrine is not to be found in sexy messaging, no, it is to be found in the political core of who President Obama is, of who Democrats are, believers in the work of perpetually creating a more perfect union with a deep understanding that the General Welfare of the nation is the guiding light and that the potential for intentional rippling is strong.

And that has resulted in my drawing the conclusion that the Obama Doctrine is, simply stated: The seeking of peace and prosperity via bringing The Common Good to the global table and engaging with like-minded nations to build strong economies, strong economies that naturally call for the implementation of an array democratic principles to succeed.

Frankly, I am of the mind that President Obama has been actively earning his Nobel Peace Prize and many of us are missing history in the making ~ along with the best chance we have to lead in peace and prosperity in the 21st Century.

Assuming the conclusion I have drawn is correct, anyone who would like to catch up with the President as he moves us from 20th Century world leadership, in the context of might is right, to 21st Century world leadership, in the context of engagement, needs to understand that the Secretary of State implements the foreign policy and it is at the State Department that the evidence required to draw one's own conclusion as to the existence of an Obama Doctrine – or not -- can be found.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid the foundation for the President's vision and you can read about some of her innovative work in the implementation of it in “The First Quadrennial Diplomacy And Development Review ~ Leading 
Through Civilian Power" here.

An excerpt from Secretary Clinton's message to readers:

So last year, I announced a sweeping review of diplomacy and development, the core missions of the State Department and USAID respectively. We consulted hundreds of people throughout the U.S. government and around the world. This report, the inaugural Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), is the result. I have made the QDDR one of our highest priorities. Just as every business must get the most out of every dollar from its investors, State and USAID have to get the most out of every dollar from the American taxpayers; we also have to look ahead, planning for a changing world. It’s ultimately about delivering results for the American people—protecting our interests and projecting our leadership in the 21st century. As President Obama observed this year in his National Security Strategy, “We live in a time of sweeping change.” New actors, good and bad, have the power to shape international affairs like never before. The challenges we face—nuclear proliferation, global pandemics, climate change, terrorism—are more complex than ever. It’s not enough simply to keep up with all of this change. We must stay ahead of it. To that end, we will build up our civilian power: the combined force of civilians working together across the U.S. government to practice diplomacy, carry out development projects, and prevent and respond to crises. Many different agencies contribute to these efforts today. But their work can be more unified, more focused, and more efficient. … 

Current Secretary of State John Kerry is building on that foundation and you can read about some of his innovative work in the continued implementation of it in the 2015  Quadrennial Diplomacy And Development Review here.

An excerpt from Secretary Kerry's message to readers:

 … Building on the spirit of innovation of the previous quadrennial review, this QDDR examines the management of our resources and people, the flexibility for experimentation, the modernization of our activities, and the actions that will guide a modern State Department and USAID. The institutional changes presented in these pages are forward-looking. Each requires further work by teams and experts. But in all cases, we have identified a set of reforms and approaches that will advance U.S. interests and reshape the Department and USAID for the future. We cannot do this alone. We look forward to working with the Congress to bring these changes into reality. To reiterate: For the QDDR to be effective it has to connect in a real way to our needs as diplomats and development professionals, and contribute directly to our advocacy of U.S. interests and values. It reviewed our performance to date and previews how we can better project American leadership in a complicated and dangerous world. Above all, the QDDR is an expression of American optimism. We believe that America is safer when the world is safe, more prosperous when the world prospers, and more secure in our dignity and democracy when those values become universal.

The time has long since passed when we could hide from the world or pretend that what happens overseas does not affect us. In the 21st century, next door is everywhere. And with this QDDR, we are advancing our interests and values that for more than 200 years have defined our country and continue today to inspire the world. … 

*** Stay with me ~ this may feel out of context but reading President Obama's 2015 National Security Strategy after reading what our two Secretaries of State were and/are charged with and what they did/do charge their staffs with the Obama Doctrine begins to emerge ...

An excerpt from President Obama's message to readers:

... Moreover, we must recognize that a smart national security strategy does not rely solely on military power. Indeed, in the long-term, our efforts to work with other countries to counter the ideology and root causes of violent extremism will be more important than our capacity to remove terrorists from the battlefield. The challenges we face require strategic patience and persistence. They require us to take our responsibilities seriously and make the smart investments in the foundations of our national power. Therefore, I will continue to pursue a comprehensive agenda that draws on all elements of our national strength, that is attuned to the strategic risks and opportunities we face, and that is guided by the principles and priorities set out in this strategy. Moreover, I will continue to insist on budgets that safeguard our strength and work with the Congress to end sequestration, which undercuts our national security. This is an ambitious agenda, and not everything will be completed during my Presidency. But I believe this is an achievable agenda, especially if we proceed with confidence and if we restore the bipartisan center that has been a pillar of strength for American foreign policy in decades past. As Americans, we will always have our differences, but what unites us is the national consensus that American global leadership remains indispensable. We embrace our exceptional role and responsibilities at a time when our unique contributions and capabilities are needed most, and when the choices we make today can mean greater security and prosperity for our Nation for decades to come.

G., aka Partisan Democrat


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