The Wall Street Journal wrote Saturday:
Whatever else one might say about President Obama’s Libya policy, it has succeeded brilliantly in achieving its oft-stated goal of not leading the world. No one can any longer doubt the U.S. determination not to act before the Italians do, or until the Saudis approve, or without a U.N. resolution. This White House is forthright for followership.
That message also couldn’t be clearer to Moammar Gadhafi and his sons, who are busy bombing and killing their way to victory against the Libyan opposition. As the U.S. defers to the world, the world can’t decide what to do, and the vacuum is filled by a dictator and his hard men who have concluded that no one will stop them.
Ineffective presidential doctrines also have characteristics in common. The most common elements are an overconfidence in international entities, a disregard for the importance of American independence, and far less emphasis on American exceptionalism as it was traditionally understood.
Consider the policies of Woodrow Wilson. At the outset of his presidency, Wilson described his intention to follow a less aggressive, more “ethical” foreign policy than his predecessors had followed. He talked about moral diplomacy and remaining neutral in foreign affairs, relying on economic relations to create a “concert of nations” to keep the peace. His approach to engagement, however, failed to stem the tide of World War I or prevent America from having to intervene in Europe.
President Obama believes that his outward orientation will improve America’s standing in the world and thus its security, but America’s policies and interests can never mirror those of other countries. No other country has the caliber of military and economic resources to compare to ours, and no other country accepts the kind of responsibility we have for assuring the security of free people around the world. Our interests will always be at odds with those of other nations, no matter how much we try to conform to them.
The tenets of the Obama Doctrine described in this paper do not suit either this geopolitical reality or someone who believes in America’s obligation and ability to lead. Rather, they suit someone who believes he is managing America’s decline in a “post-American” world. They do not reflect history or the threats we face. They will serve to undermine America’s strengths and make it more difficult for friends and allies to figure out where we stand or how we might act in critical times. Ultimately, the Obama Doctrine will force friendly nations to look elsewhere, not to Washington, for arrangements that bring them greater security.
And that will make this a far more dangerous world indeed.