Comparing the foreign policies of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama has been like comparing apples to, well, apples.
Carter tried accommodating America’s enemies. He cut back on defense. He made humility the hallmark of American diplomacy. Sound familiar? It might be too much to argue that the current President’s doctrine plagiarized the peanut farmer. But it is not too much of a stretch.
Carter and Obama not only had similar styles of engaging with the rest of the world, but both of their presidencies fell into the same pitfalls. Enemies perceived their penchant for half-measures and exploited them.
Now, the mission of Seal Team Six has had some people musing that Obama has shed the shadow of Jimmy Carter. Carter comparisons, however, are likely to come back again and again. The chief goal of the Obama doctrine is to do as little as possible to get by in the world. Each of his decisions to send troops into harm’s way—including the Seal Team Six strike on Osama bin Laden—reflects the President’s minimalist approach to the exercise of American power.
The only way Obama can banish his inner Jimmy Carter is to abandon his own doctrine.