Externalizing the burden of war: the Obama Doctrine and US foreign policy in the Middle East: Thread Discussion

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Textbook: Rising Threats, Enduring Challenges: Readings in U.S. Foreign Policy by Andrew Price-Smith

The Truman Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine
The Roosevelt Corollary to Monroe
Wilson’s Fourteen Points Speech
George Washington’s Farewell Address
Dwight Eisenhower’s Farewell Address
Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat on War with Japan, part 1
Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat on War with Japan, part 2
The Sources of Soviet Conduct
President Carter’s 1980 State of the Union Address
President Reagan’s Remarks on East-West Relations at the Brandenburg Gate (video with transcript)
President George W. Bush’s 2002 West Point Graduation Speech
President Obama’s Speech on Libya “Responsibility to Act”

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Thread from Kelly:

America’s foreign policy is historically reactive as opposed to proactive (Hastedt).  The danger associated with that is this:  American is often unprepared for the innovative tactics employed by other opposing nations and terrorists and, therefore, often fails to secure the nation and its citizens’ safety when a new threat arises (Hastedt).  That being said, America has also thought on its toes better than other nations have, perhaps, with our large military and intelligence gathering programs, America has more options for reaction than, say, sanctuary nations like France, who have waived their ability to react in the name of political correctness (Ryan).

The White House has been home to 45, or 44 if you don’t count Grover Cleveland’s second stay, presidents.  Some have been dealt more difficult hands than others and some have not risen to the occasion.  Comparing America’s Cold War president, Ronald Reagan, with our most recent to exit office, Barack Obama, it is easier to note a large discrepancy in foreign policy maintenance.  Reagan took a harsher approach to handling other countries, such as he did with Russia during the Cold War (Ryan).  He wasn’t afraid to profile nor was he afraid to risk all-out war, a war which America would’ve likely win, to put Russia back into a place of submission to America’s power (Ryan).

Barack Obama was a different story.  Yes, he was president while the founder of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, was killed, but his approach to military expense was more reserved (Krieg.  While Reagan wasn’t afraid of the risk with Russia, Obama was more inclined to debate possibilities.  Reagan reacted to the 1983 Beirut incident immediately and with force while Obama was seemingly passive during the 2012 attack on the embassy in Benghazi, leaving American troops to defend themselves with no support from the Pentagon for 13 hours, and then after all of that and the loss of life, they were left behind at the airport (Krieg).

Obama’s goal with foreign policy was to not stir the pot while Reagan went into the office with a big spoon and willingness to make waves in the proverbial pot.  Consider the rhetoric of the responses, while Reagan named names and called out titles, Obama was more reserved in his response, even trading the term “terrorism” for the less controversial “acts of terror” (Kessler).  Obama was president in a post-9/11 America while Reagan was also in a high pressure presidency over the Cold War (Hastedt).  The difference is the approach:  Reagan wanted to end the injustices while Obama wanted to manage them.  There is a passivity in Obama’s foreign policy that makes it distinct from the intentional forcefulness of Reagan’s (Hastedt).  Time has proven Reagan’s policy effective, although some deem it “crazy”, so it seems only time will tell if Obama’s was as effective.

“Barack Obama.” The White House. Accessed March 29, 2018. https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/barack-obama/.

Hastedt, Glenn P. American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

Kessler, Glenn. “Obama’s Claim on ‘act of Terrorism’.” The Washington Post. May 14, 2013. Accessed March 29, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/obamas-claim-he-called-benghazi-an-act-of-terrorism/2013/05/13/7b65b83e-bc14-11e2-97d4-a479289a31f9_blog.html?utm_term=.47d48a587dda.

Krieg, Andreas. “Externalizing the burden of war: the Obama Doctrine and US foreign policy in the Middle East.” International Affairs 92, no. 1 (2016): 97-113.

Obama, Barack. “Statement by the President.” The White House 7 (2014).

Ryan, David. US foreign policy in world history. Routledge, 2014.

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