Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Soft Reality of the Obama Doctrine

Once we had the Bush doctrine. This was rather clear, gave due and timely warning to our enemies and scared the crap out of Democrats.

Overall it was good but Bush had lots of problems with follow-through. I; I'd give it a B- for results tempered by the fact that it was operating in the face of a hostile press, an internationl community that turned up its nose at the whole thing, and Democrats playing partisan politics with national security. History will likely look more favorably upon it, especially when compared to the results of his sucessor.

Now we're seeing the effect of the Obama doctrine's replacement of hard power with "soft power". It means you talk, mouth a few platitudes, and do nothing and wait on the "International Community" to plod its way to eventually doing something, maybe.

This, in the face of a lapdog press that thinks Obama can walk on water when it is not frozen, an international community that loves him and the Democrats backing him on national security.

Not surprising, since his own people are moving away from interventionism as quickly as their feet can carry them, the Obama Administration is busy decisively declaring that they must wait for the UN's blessing for any American action.

Defense Secretary Gates as I blogged about previously, of course changed the prior defense doctrine of the US from being able to fight two major regional wars at once to only being ready to fight one major regional conflict.

This lead to costs savings as less military equipment and manpower was needed. Nice when you want to shovel money on the domestic side as is obama's desire, but bad when multiple problems crop up worldwide.

Unfortunately there's no guarrantee we'll only face one major conflict at a time, nor that we don't have to deal with multiple simultaneous lower-intensity conflicts. Such as oh, I don't know, piracy, Libya, Iran....

So much for the Obama campaign promise that he made regarding international intervention.

Obama is facing the sternest test yet of his philosophy of humanitarian intervention, which he has described as an imperative to prevent atrocities against civilians. But Gadhafi's brutal suppression of protests and crackdown on opponents to his 42-year rule may fall short of Obama's criteria for military action.

As a presidential candidate in October 2008, Obama outlined a doctrine for American military force that included crises in which the United States has a "moral obligation" to intervene. As commander in chief, he soon will have to decide whether Libya fits that bill.
Too bad for the Libyans because as with all Obama promises it comes with an expiration date, and this one's expired.

Meanwhile Gaddafi tanks, jets strike deeper into rebel heartland.

But don't worry, Obama's team promises swift indecisiveness:
Obama did not attend Wednesday's meeting [of his national security people], and the White House said no action was imminent. Officials set no timeline.

We're not at a decision point," Obama's spokesman, Jay Carney, said as the White House sought hardBut Obama's admonition for international action -- not go-it-alone-force -- remains a driving principle of any military intervention.

That approach offers broader legitimacy and shared burden, but also more complicated politics.

"We believe it's important that this not be an American or a NATO or a European effort; it needs to be an international one," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday on CBS. She conceded divisions within the United Nations Security Council but said that a "good, solid international package" was being considered.

Of course, the US can depend on NATO to lead as it stands ready:
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters Wednesday that "NATO is not looking to intervene in Libya."
Ok, maybe not that ready.

Not to worry, the UN is ready for decisive action:
Britain and France are pushing for the U.N. to create a no-fly zone over the country, and while the U.S. may be persuaded to sign on, such a move is unlikely to win the backing of veto-wielding Security Council members Russia and China, which traditionally object to such steps as infringements on national sovereignty.

Darn, not too much effective action from the UN either. How unexpected.

I think we've just seen the obvious flaw in the Obama Doctrine's emphasis on soft power and its requirement for an international multilateral response before the US is alowed to respond to a crisis. NATO and the UN seem unable or unwilling to shoulder the load in this brave new multi-polar world, and the doctrine leaves the US hamstrung and unable to act, which seems to have been its intent all along.

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