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The Elusive Obama Doctrine

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
September/October 2012
The National Interest


LEAVING ASIDE political and ideological malcontents as well as defenders of the faith, it seems to me that three points can be made fairly regarding President Barack Obama's foreign-policy and national-security record.

First, he has captured the potent political center, a considerable feat for any Democrat. He's done so mainly by staying out of big, costly trouble. He further helped himself by co-opting some of the popular hard-nosed rhetoric and actions of traditional realists not generally associated with Democrats. Right-wing extremists did their part by practically conceding the middle ground with their unrelenting hawkishness. All of this permitted Obama to outmaneuver the Republicans and hold the center. In doing so, he has given Democrats their first real shot at being America's leading party on foreign policy since Franklin Roosevelt and the earliest days of Harry Truman.

This has been nothing short of a political coup that could reverse long-standing Republican electoral advantages on national security.

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