Washington Free Beacon: Opinion: Matthew Continetti: “The Old New Europe”: Defining Soft Power

The Obama Doctrine

Washington Free Beacon: Opinion: Matthew Continetti: The New Old Europe

Look I’m not crazy about President Obama’s foreign policy right now either. Just three years ago and even through 2012 I thought I had a pretty good idea about what it was. What is called the Obama Doctrine speech from early 2011 laid out clearly what the Obama foreign policy at least was then. And was built on what is called Soft Power. Which means you are strong which includes military, diplomacy and economically so you don’t have to use that strength. Meaning you are so strong that other countries would be crazy to want to mess with you.

Another part of Soft Power has to do with when you use your strength. The obvious one being when you are under attack by either another country or some terrorist group. Or when another country is protecting terrorists that just hit you. Which is the reason we invaded Afghanistan in 2001 because the then Taliban Afghan Regime was protecting terrorists in their country that were part of the 9/11 attacks. And another being you use force when your allies are under attack and do not have the resources to defend themselves. As we saw with Britain in World War II.

The third one is trickier and a hell of a lot more controversial than just the second one. Which has to do with what do you do when innocent people are being murdered especially by their own government. As we are still seeing in Syria and as we saw in Libya in 2010/11. Do you but out and say “that is none of our business what countries do to their own people”. Even if you can do something constructive about it. Or do you act and say the “developed world or West will not sit on our hands and watch innocent people being murdered”.

But again Soft Power is not just about military force. There are strong diplomatic and economic components to it as well so you never have to use the military to intervene in the first place. Under Soft Power military is always the last option. With Neoconservatives it tends to be first if not the only. With Liberals and Soft Power is a liberal foreign policy military force is generally the last option. Because you only want to risk the lives of your military when you have to. So you take advantage of all of your diplomatic and economic options first .

In the first term except as it related to Syria I thought President Obama and his National Security Council had this policy down. But lately it seems to be that they are worried about disasters and things blowing up in their faces so much which makes it very difficult to act on anything controversial. So what we see instead from this President is inaction. That “it is better to not act and rick some situation blowing up in our faces then to act and making the situation worst”. Which is not Soft Power or Hard Power, but No Power and it makes America look weak as we’ve seen with Russia with their actions against Ukraine.

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About Ederik Schneider

Blogger on a whole host of subjects.
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