Monday, March 14, 2016

FOREIGN POLICY - "The Obama Doctrine"

"The Atlantic examines Obama’s foreign policy legacy" PBS NewsHour 3/10/2016


SUMMARY:  What is President Obama’s real foreign policy legacy?  Through a series of interviews with the commander in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic set out to determine an answer -- one divorced from the partisan rhetoric that tends to dominate such discussions.  As part of a collaboration between The Atlantic and the PBS NewsHour, Judy Woodruff joins Goldberg to find out what he learned.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Now, a broad, yet intimate look at how President Obama views America’s role in the world.  It comes from “The Atlantic's” Jeffrey Goldberg, who sat down for hours of interviews with the President for his cover story, “The Obama Doctrine,” out today.

Judy Woodruff begins our conversation with how the president’s foreign policy is seen.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG, The Atlantic:  One of the interesting caricatures of President Obama is that he doesn’t believe that the U.S. is indispensable.  You hear that from his critics all the time, that he’s a retrenchment President, he’s a withdrawal President, a declinist.

I think that’s wrong.  I think he understands that America is indispensable to the smooth functioning of global affairs.  I think he might be the first President who sometimes resents that role, who looks at our allies and thinks that these guys need to pay for something once in a while, these guys need to do more than they’re doing.

He is also a person who is more hesitant than the average president to use force, specifically in the Middle East.  Now, there’s a contradiction here at the core of his presidency, which is that the President who his critics believe is almost a pacifist in some kind of way, a declinist, is also the greatest terrorist hunter in the history of the presidency.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Do any of the critics get it right?  Because, on the right, Republicans are saying this is a President who is weak, he’s feckless, he doesn’t believe in America’s strength, and on the left, you have got some liberals saying he’s been too inclined to use force, to use drones, and he doesn’t care enough about humanitarian crises.


What he does that annoys people on the right is that he has set a very high threshold for what constitutes a direct national security threat to the United States.  But the people on the left understand him to be a ruthless hunter of terrorists, right?  They have that — they have that right.

But I think the right gets it wrong.  They have this caricature of this kind of feckless President who doesn’t defend the United States.  For instance, they talk about ISIS as if we’re not currently fighting ISIS.  But the U.S. is deeply engaged in that fight, and that, of course, comes from President Obama.

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