Sunday, June 06, 2010

"Obama's National Security Strategy"

Doyle McManus (LA Times):
The document lays out the president's worldview. Basically, it says on foreign policy, we'll do what we can, as long as it doesn't cost too much.---In the end, what Obama laid out was more a set of premises — a worldview — than it was a strategy. And he will face at least two challenges in making it work.

One, which the deliberately bland National Security Strategy didn't solve, is explaining his approach to the American people. As a nation, we accept that there are limits to what we can and should do abroad, but we don't always like it. We still want to maintain the world's most effective armed forces, defeat terrorism, spread democracy and bring peace to the Middle East, even as we complain about government spending.

"Obama became president the moment after the collapse of a hubris bubble," said Peter Beinart, author of "The Icarus Syndrome," a brilliant new book about the pendulum swings of U.S. foreign policy between excessive ambition and excessive retrenchment. "He needs to convince Americans that we can become stronger even as we retrench militarily. That is incredibly perilous, politically."

The other challenge is the certainty of unexpected events. When Obama came to office, he knew he faced an economic crisis and two wars. But he didn't know that a BP oil well would explode, that Israel would clash with Turkey or that a Nigerian student would fly to Detroit last Christmas with a bomb in his pants — an event that, had luck not intervened, could have vaulted terrorism back to its old status as the all-consuming focus of American policy. As U.S. Marines like to note, the enemy has a vote too. MORE...

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