In Manila yesterday, Fox News’ Ed Henry asked President Obama to explain the Obama doctrine.
As Obama faces increasing criticism from all sides regarding the efficacy of his foreign policy, he first scoffed at the question responding, “Well Ed, I doubt I’ll have time to lay out my entire foreign policy doctrine.”
The President then proceeded to go into a long-winded explanation highlighting several foreign policy endeavors, including Ukraine and Syria.
President Obama also took aim at his critics and, true to form, the policies of the Bush administration. [Emphasis Added]
Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure to use military force. And the question I think I would have is, why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget? And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?
Despite insinuating that critics of his foreign policy are essentially war-mongers, the President had trouble finding examples where the criticism of his foreign policy centered on a lack of American boots on the ground.
The President first started with Syria. [Emphasis Added]
So if you look at Syria, for example, our interest is in helping the Syrian people, but nobody suggests that us being involved in a land war in Syria would necessarily accomplish this goal. And I would note that those who criticize our foreign policy with respect to Syria, they themselves say, no, no, no, we don’t mean sending in troops. Well, what do you mean?
He then moved on to Ukraine and Russia.[Emphasis Added]
And Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world. And we’ve been able to mobilize the international community to not only put diplomatic pressure on Russia, but also we’ve been able to organize European countries who many were skeptical would do anything to work with us in applying sanctions to Russia. Well, what else should we be doing? Well, we shouldn’t be putting troops in, the critics will say. That’s not what we mean. Well, okay, what are you saying?
Somehow, the President thinks his critics are simultaneously telling him to send troops in to these foreign policy situations, and keep them out. Why might this be?
CNN’s Jake Tapper had a panel to discuss the response, and the New York Times’ Johnathan Martin offered a possible explanation for the President’s contradictory response.
Politically it serves him well to keep up the sort of anti-Bush pose — here we are six years on after Bush — that’s always been their response, “Oh do you want to go back to the days of Bush and preemptive war.” But of course, it’s much more nuanced than that.
Even within the traditional bastions of steadfast Obama support like the New York Times, it seems the “blame Bush” strategy may finally have run its course.
I wouldn’t expect the President to deviate from it too soon, however. After all, old habits die hard.
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