Stop searching for an Obama Doctrine
July 7th, 2011
06:43 AM ET

Stop searching for an Obama Doctrine

By Fareed Zakaria

Every few months, commentators find a new grand strategy that animates Barack Obama. First he was the antiwar candidate, because his rise in the Democratic primaries had much to do with his early and consistent opposition to the Iraq war. But even some on the right, including Robert Kagan, pointed out that he was interventionist on other issues, such as Afghanistan. Some criticized his multilateralism, pointing to his offers of engagement to all comers, from Iran to Russia to China. More recently, watching his vigorous outreach to Asian countries threatened by China, the scholar Daniel Drezner concluded that the new grand strategy was one of “counterpunching.”

So what is the Obama Doctrine?

In fact, the search itself is misguided. The doctrinal approach to foreign policy doesn’t make much sense anymore. Every American foreign policy “doctrine” but one was formulated during the Cold War, for a bipolar world, when American policy toward one country — the Soviet Union — dominated all U.S. strategy and was the defining aspect of global affairs. (The Monroe Doctrine is the exception.) In today’s multipolar, multilayered world, there is no central hinge upon which all American foreign policy rests. Policymaking looks more varied, and inconsistent, as regions require approaches that don’t necessarily apply elsewhere.

Obama does, however, have a worldview, a well-considered approach to international affairs. His views have been straightforward and consistent. From the earliest days of his presidential campaign he said that he sees the basic argument in American foreign policy as “between ideology and realism” and placed himself squarely on one side.

Read the rest over at The Washington Post.

soundoff (129 Responses)
  1. rightospeak

    His doctrine ? Globalism, help the very rich, take away from the middle class , endless wars, encircling of Russia and China-another words , IMPERIAL DOCTRINE with Obama as Ceasar , Fareed , as you well know. You are one of them.
    I used to enjoy your programs in the past and wondered how you managed to get excellent people on your show. I know now , that you are a part of the propaganda machine to further GLOBALISM and to push forward Obama's Doctrine of enslavement while being paid very well. Your shows no longer interest me. For a short moment , I thought , that you were a breath of fresh air, only to be disappointed once I put two and two together.

    July 9, 2011 at 10:19 am | Reply
  2. Abdul Ameer

    The Obama doctrine, if there is any, is to promote the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, both abroad and at home. He has failed to take any action to stem the advance of supremacist Islam, whether in Iran, Egypt, Gaza, Lebanon or elsewhere. He appoints members of the Muslim Brotherhood to high government positions at home, and he "engages" them abroad. The greatest breach in American security in many decades is the fact that our Secretary of State's closest adviser, Huma Abedin, is a religious Moslem whose mother and brother are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Can you imagine what sort of advice about the Muslim Brotherhood Hillary is receiving? This is a security scandal of the first order.

    July 9, 2011 at 10:31 am | Reply
  3. Jason

    The Monroe Doctrine is my favorite doctrine because it was named after Marilyn Monroe, who was our sexiest president other than Jimmy Carter.

    Whenever I think of Marilyn, I am reminded of when she stood over an air vent, causing her billowing dress to fly up, showing off her wonderful legs and signaling to the British that we would not give up our guns.

    July 9, 2011 at 11:15 am | Reply
    • Hello Kitty


      July 9, 2011 at 11:52 am | Reply
  4. Any losses of space exploration is the death of humanity

    Everything said here is an excellent reason why America should be putting more money into space research and getting off this planet.

    July 9, 2011 at 11:26 am | Reply
  5. Hello Kitty

    White people are the instigators of the world's mess

    look at Israel/Palestine,

    African nations,



    and the list goes on...

    July 9, 2011 at 11:51 am | Reply
  6. jme0598

    USA policy of spreading democracy as cookie cutter solution to the world's ills, whether or not this is what people in other cultures want, and whether or not they are ready for such a thing, and disregarding whether or not this style of government is compatible with the culture USA chooses to impose it on is a fundamental violation of the orginating rule in Declaration of Independence :

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

    USA is peddling "democracy" as if this is something everybody wants and in fact as demonstrated by the realities of how people in other cultures reacte when presented with the option of "democracy" such as in Saudi Arabia and China, more often than not this is seen in a negative light as a bunch of overlords imposing themselves on others, which it truly is. USA really ought to stop doing this as they are violating the very principles upon which USA is built and more importantly, is really a nuisance, more than anything.

    July 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  7. Blatent Sarcasm

    Obama totally isn't a corporate shill, no way.

    July 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  8. Ken from FL

    There Fareed goes again, peddling his crap. Obama is not a realist; a true realist is intent upon protecting the national intererest. A realist realizes world politics is usually a zero sum game: you win, they lose, and vice versa. Or is Fareed trying to redefine the realist paradigm to make Obama appear to be this great paragon of protecting US interests when in fact he believes in American decline.

    July 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  9. Ras Gregory

    Fareed, will you invite me on your show?
    Remember Obama Twitter event? The marijuana questions he never anwered. A day later FED says marijuana has no medical value...completely destroying the little medical marijuana our country did have...
    Fareed, tell President Obama people want him dead, for systematically killing them, and for all of the bombs NATO drops on houses that dont have any terrorist in them, just ordinary families.

    Fareed, ask President Obama what does he have to say about those two subjects, ask him if he IS WORRIED OF ASSINATION ATTEMPS BECAUSE OF HIS JOB PERFORMANCE

    July 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  10. Ras Gregory

    We need a "Impeach Obama, Take Away His Nobel Prize" protest in New York, LA, Houston, D.C, Seattle...
    Fareed paying so much attention to his career and not the truth...

    Barack Hussein Obama is more unpopular than Saddam Hussein and both George Bush's put together.

    Would I be friends with Obama for "benefits" rather than disliking him because of his stupid ass economics, clear dumb secret society agenda, that supports Muslim terrorist who hate the nation of Israel? No No


    July 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Reply
  11. rod

    Obama doctrine?

    That would be: Trying hard to please majority of Americans because that is how he became President and that is how he'll stay some more term in office. Whatever that is purely his, he'll be trying to reconcile it with the first interest.

    July 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  12. Ras Gregory

    Fareed, I literally heard Kaddafi telling his citizens to get all revenge on Europe as possible...isn't it Pres. Obama who started the illegitimate Chaos in Libya in the first place? So now we have young Libyans old Libyans ready to destroy any target in Europe, because their President told them too. Because Barack caused the chaos in that country...told NATO to go into that country...What the situation in Libya disables NATO to attack Iran, and drain NATO resources at the same time...maybe that is why Germany stalled, BUT...Iran is getting more ready for the battle and also Barack is messing up relationship with Russia and other BRIC nations because of Libya...a scenario that would easily happen if someone messed with U.S. interest but I agree,

    BUT I disagree with using Nato over boyfriend girlfriend stuff in Libya
    get a room

    July 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  13. rod

    So, if majority of Americans say trample Pakistan, that would be an Obama doctrine. [Unless he no longer likes to be President and ruin the Democratic party's future with the Americans people as well.]

    July 9, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  14. Ras Gregory

    I think the Presidents next campaign will be so unpopular that he'll drop out of the race.

    July 9, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  15. Anthony Caudill

    Fareed if only you had a clue what's coming for you. Your role in the scheme to elevate the social security age will never be forgiven, and I swear to see you rotting in prison for your vile thought crime.

    July 9, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  16. AlienShark

    my only input into politics is I want to see more powdered wigs...that is all.

    July 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  17. Fiery Buddha

    Interesting article. It almost went somewhere.

    July 9, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  18. mikle

    Stop looking for Obama doctrine .That not exist. Not foreign policy ,not economy doctrine- nothing. His mine like small communist organizer. He got good school, but it not mean he got vision and shroud in politics. His mine prefer big government and believe that by rule and regulation he can achieve result. His record is perfect ,he wrong again.

    July 9, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  19. Great AmericaN

    President Obam does not need a doctrine. He will go down as the greatest president in american history. It's the loser presidents like Ronald Reagan who set this nation up for failure by acting like instead of being a president.

    July 10, 2011 at 12:15 am | Reply
  20. Ras Gregory

    Pres Obama doesn't need a doctrine, he's going to need a $350 million dollar donation from fed up citizens who aint going to re-elect his sorry ass.

    His own cousin Dick Cheney doesn't support him anymore. The truth about his affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood is all over the internet...

    I voted for the Christian, and so did many other people who still dont get unemployment checks, he wants us to by healthcare.

    Hopefully this will be the stupid president who gets charged by the ICC with his wreckless attitude.

    July 10, 2011 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • Ras Gregory

      ^buy healthcare

      July 10, 2011 at 10:45 am | Reply
  21. Ras Gregory

    President Obama couldn't even stop a Governor in His country from committing international crime by executing a Mexican citizen.

    President Obama is too disorganized to be president of a country...he should go back to communty organizing or even be a Senate for a just isn't him

    July 10, 2011 at 10:47 am | Reply
    • Charles H

      International crime? I didnt know the UN and Mexicans were pro child rape and murder. Thank God the President let him fry.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:14 am | Reply
  22. Charles H

    From what I've seen. The prez sticks his finger in the air and sees which way the winds are blowing. Next week, diffrent wind patterns.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:11 am | Reply
  23. Mr. Davidson

    I saw this film,Planet of the apes,the humans are imprisoned and poked with spears by apes dressed in uniform.Obama no doubt ,as a Muslim ,supports the Muslim brotherhood of which AL Queda is only a minor reactionary group.The Muslim Brotherhood has become the most powerful political force in virtually every Nation today in quest of the Caliphate.Obama could no more reveal he is Muslim than publicly state that Goldmans and BP and General Dynamics owns the Presidency,which as fact is proven. The US taxpayer provides the cash and recieves nothing in return ,its a cash cow,the rat race in their millions of gas guzzling autos going to work to pay taxes,thats reality.Afganistan and wars for profit are purely fiction ,folks.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:22 am | Reply
    • stepasidesue

      You're a joke! Have you ever given any thought to expand your sources of skip Rush you moron.

      July 11, 2011 at 1:36 am | Reply
  24. Dennis

    I would suggest that you read the entire article. It will give you a different perspective. What is on CNN is just a portion and that is somewhat problematic.

    July 10, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  25. Ras Gregory

    I wonder if those people in the Arab Uprisings will eventually turn their attention to what Barack Obama is doing?

    Well of course, not right now. But I am willing to bet, the United States is going to be blamed for something along the lines of TORTURE, which just isn't what the United States or the President needs, ya know? What I am trying to say is, I remember when Bush was in office, while in Iraq and Afghan, troop morale was low, CIA and those guys were doing some weird stuff(maybe explains why they put Petraeus as CIA director)...

    Obama is going to look like the biggest hypocrit, toting a Nobel Peace Prize while he's instigating civil wars in Arab countries. Hes a big Instigator and that shouldn't be the business of the United States, maybe the UN, but come on...

    Obama is clearly threatened to do what he is told and not what he wants...he literally repeats same lines used by prior President Bush in his speeches, clearly not an original guy. We would all like to hear WHAT HE REALLY THINKS, but about 60% of Americans know that he is a secret agent or something.

    So, Fareed, trust me, His doctrine, is to be a hypocrite before the world, and to come as closer to getting tried in International Criminal Court, as possible.

    Well we know he isn't trying to do a thing about poverty, infrastructure, drilling for oil, etc He is totally wrong listening to his advisors, they should be thrown out just like him.

    President Obama reminds me of Stalin.

    July 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  26. integrity2

    Come on CNN. Where is your jouranlistic integrity? You no longer seem to employ real investigative journalism, allowing Fareed's blathering to pass in its sted. Where is the focus on Fast & Furious? Nowhere posted on your site today.

    July 10, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  27. Brian Macker

    Obama's only doctrine is that of an opportunist. One ignorant of economics.

    July 11, 2011 at 3:04 am | Reply
  28. windowschina


    July 11, 2011 at 8:26 am | Reply
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