Archive for March, 2011

Obama’s Doctrine of Ambiguity

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

As one who studies US foreign policy, I am not a fan of presidential doctrines that are generally crafted by the press out of a line or two of a president’s speech.  The Monroe Doctrine may have actually been the only true doctrine, defined by its namesake, and even it proved susceptible to gross misinterpretation and expansive misapplication.  Moreover, in an age of complexity, doctrines, or grand strategies, seem less appealing or relevant than the flexibility ambiguity allows, which is clearly why President Obama favored ambiguity in his recent address on Libya.  We live in an age of supervention, where seemingly disconnected and anachronistic events have effects, which is an inexorable reality of complexity.  The larger problem however, is not about US foreign policy and its strategic design in a complex world; it is about American identity; it is about how we Americans view our role at home and in the world.

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