Let’s not get carried away

I liked much of President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech well enough, but I wouldn’t try to build a religion around it. Or even a doctrine.
Yet, according to Politico, some folks (I suspect White House spinmeisters) purport to see the makings of an Obama doctrine: “a notion that foreign policy is a struggle of good and evil, that American exceptionalism has blunted the force of tyranny in the world, and that [the] U.S. military can be a force for good and even harnessed to humanitarian ends.”
I’m not sure this qualifies as a doctrine. The first prong is a metaphor, the second is a statement about the past, and third is essentially a truism. At a minimum, I would expect a doctrine to elaborate on the conditions under which U.S. military is a force for good.
Nor is it clear that Obama deeply believes all three of the propositions that make up his “doctrine.” As Stephen Hayes points out, the president in the recent past has been loath to see conflict as a struggle between good and evil, and dismissive of “American exceptionalism.”
If there’s an Obama doctrine here, it may be this: “don’t squander your popularity by publicly disrespecting your country.”


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