Foreign Policy

Is there an Obama Doctrine?

The tenuous situation in Libya poses a big dilemma for this
administration. What baffles me is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

As the bombs fall and the missiles fly, it’s clear the world wants
Gadhafi gone. Even the Arab League acknowledges that point. So for
President Obama to state a similar line, there’s not much foreign policy
wisdom flowing forth. Yet as congressional voices grow louder for
clarity on “the mission,” this White House has turned to some pretty
lame reasons for the U.S.’s presence over Libya.

“Humanitarian actions” to protect the citizens of Libya … Is that the
best they can do? When the president states he wants Gadhafi deposed,
that should be enough. And yet we have an administration that is
stepping on its message by releasing statements in the name of
protecting the people of Libya. A noble cause, yes, but to carry that
logic through, then shouldn’t this country have acted sooner and not
waited until the tyrant’s forces were about to deliver the deathblow to
the opposition?

Why now?

By the same token, congressional Republicans should give the president some time to work both diplomatically and militarily to secure the country and establish necessary ties with U.N. allies. Hurling hollow questions of “What’s next?” doesn’t really advance any substantive debate. Not now. Further, the only thing we should be concerned with is finishing the job (and we know what that job is) and making sure our soldiers come home.

So now is the time for Obama to set his doctrine. Appearing in a joint media availability with the president of Chile won’t cut it (bad PR move, Mr. Carney). No, we need a major presidential address. Such an act would also set the stage for American foreign policy moves toward other totalitarian regimes who might be reconsidering their actions given the latest events.

The world is watching the United States. That’s a good place for us to be right now. It’s where we as a country thrive. Obama should embrace this moment, not dally with what to call a military offensive against a crazed tyrant.

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