by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jonah Goldberg says it’s only fair to give President Obama some credit for positive changes in Libya, but that doesn’t let Obama off Goldberg’s hook in the general arena of foreign policy. He explains for National Review Online readers.
[I]f Obama were a Republican, he would be getting considerably more praise from the right for pursuing a relatively low-cost and low-risk NATO-led strategy that resulted in long-desired regime change in Libya. (Of course, had he been a Republican, many on the left would have denounced yet another neocon war for oil.)
Obama also deserves kudos for taking out Osama bin Laden and for his mounting successes in killing other members of al-Qaeda.
And yet, there’s something peculiar about Obama’s foreign policy: There doesn’t seem to be one. Talking about Libya, Ben Rhodes, the director for strategic communications at the National Security Council, told the New York Times: “We’ve resisted the notion of a doctrine, because we don’t think you can impose one model on very different countries; that gets you into trouble and can lead you to intervene in places that you shouldn’t.”
This strikes me as wildly overstated, even bizarre. A doctrine, in and of itself, doesn’t compel anyone to do anything. Moreover, some doctrines — isolationism, for instance — can lead you to not intervene in places you should.