Monday, March 14, 2016

the Obama doctrine

I wish that President Obama had waited until next January before saying some of the things he told Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, especially negative comments about certain foreign countries and leaders. The better practice is what Defense Secretary Bob Gates did, withholding deep contempt of Congress until he wrote his memoir.While in office, he was still able to work well with the Hill because he masked his feelings.

Obama's reflections on his foreign policy have received stunning criticisms from conservative quarters. Niall Ferguson calls him arrogant. A more reasoned critique comes from Martin Indyk,  who complains that Obama's "pivot to Asia" shows that he really doesn't care how things turn out in the Middle East. That point does raise the question of whether that grand strategy necessarily conflicted with the more immediate problems of Syria and its neighbors.

Many commentators were angry over Obama's satisfaction after deciding not to attack Syria for tis use of chemical weapons, despite the president's own "red line" threats. I thought that was a very appropriate decision -- seeking congressional approval of the plan. The blame should go on Congress for abdicating its responsibility, which was to vote either for or against the proposed war.

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