Republican politics has descended into teenage drama. The Republicans are against peaceful Iranian prisoner transfers now just because President Obama successfully pulled one off. As if this was not a huge step in responsible foreign politics of de-escalation. There is no reason the US should fight a nation with 80 million people, and perhaps for the first time in decades, our government is recognizing the mutual benefits of multilateralism across the globe.
The world’s security council has agreed to bless Iran’s inevitable (key word) entrance onto the world stage and into the globalized economy, and Iran has abandoned efforts to build nuclear weapons and committed itself to defusing the Middle Eastern powder keg. This is a textbook example of a win-win scenario.
As a political creed, the Obama Doctrine treats foreign policy like a metaphorical maze, in which, if the US stays calm and perseveres with rational diplomacy, America can find the best solutions toward getting out of the maze. The GOP’s strategy in this maze metaphor is to quit at the first fork, walk back out of the maze and start bombing countries.
The Obama Administration’s path through the maze of the Iranian nuclear deal was a legacy-defining political victory. First, the US (likely) hacked Iran’s centrifuges with Stuxnet, and made the Iranian nuclear program tear itself apart. This convinced Iran to come to the debating table and accept the terms America laid out, and Iran has so far complied with the nuclear framework. Republican presidential candidates are contemptible for fear mongering over the Iran nuclear deal, and from here on out Iran is going to be an integral player in Middle Eastern peace efforts. Continued antagonization now can do nothing but sabotage American international strategy because Obama has so successfully navigated the Iranian maze, and Republicans are hurting America’s security by smearing our emerging Middle Eastern ally for hyper-partisan, domestic political gain.
In practice, the Obama Doctrine is the antithesis of neoconservatism. It is the realization that American presidents should stop bluffing bravado with foreign powers, and should no longer risk nationalistic slip ‘n slides into war. President Obama has maturely allowed Iran to save face as much as it can for its political capitulation over its nuclear program, and he has ignored Republicans’ baseless claims of sacrificed American security. America is more secure today because Obama has resisted the maze-quitting impulse of war with Iran.
With dedicated efforts toward peace, the Obama Administration has fully transitioned US foreign relations from the aughts’ Bush Doctrine of controversially preemptive, unilateral occupation. And it’s working. President Obama has kept America out of seven impulsive military adventures, whether continued ones (Iraq, Afghanistan) or new ones (Syria, Egypt, Libya, Ukraine, Iran), and his strategy has slowly advanced international consensus for diplomatic resolutions.
As Obama’s presidency closes, his diplomatic successes are beginning to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize he won in 2009. No doubt there are still many political wildfires burning throughout the world, and some limited military action will likely be necessary in the years to come, but the US will be much stronger in extinguishing them with the international support that Obama has so carefully cultivated over the last seven years. The coming decade will see future presidents benefit immensely from Obama’s striking reversal in America’s international approval, and from his efforts toward diplomatic engagement over isolation.
The Obama Doctrine is also an acceptance that for too long America has waged cold wars against a host of nations for simply acting according to what they view as their own national interest. Obama’s methodical strategy is to convince rival nations that all nations’ interests are the same. Peace and stability are not selfish goals, and Obama’s state department has wrangled an unprecedented amount of cooperation.
Consider Obama’s marathon race toward global action on climate change. The demoralizing Copenhagen summit discord in 2009 paved the way for a new and dedicated Obama Administration venture through the maze of recalcitrant international concentration, and the latest Paris climate change accord has united 195 nations in commitment to combating human-caused climate change. The climate treaty is an astounding victory for Obama’s leadership capabilities.
And the most impressive part is that Obama is achieving accomplishment after accomplishment without hubristic machismo. Republicans accuse him of leading from behind, but that’s exactly what great leaders do to create inertia. They corral and push. What the Republican presidential candidates do not understand is that in real-life international diplomacy there are no domineering winners and losers. Power necessitates responsibility, and it is not responsible for a hegemonic power intervening in world affairs to take excessive advantage of other nations.
The unilateralism that Republican presidential candidates call for is to abandon the political maze entirely and dive into the destructive spiral of unnecessary war. Neocons view the world as a place in need of self-conscious American supremacy. In contrast, the Obama Doctrine views the world as a place in need of conflict mediation. Syria, Iraq, the emerging Kurdistan, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and a host of African states emerging from America’s Middle Eastern peripheral focus need a responsible mediator to promote long-term peace, not autocratic bombing adventures to frighten near-sighted polling bumps.
In this way, the Obama Doctrine practices genuine American leadership in ways that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio cannot fathom. Republicans’ oppositional calls for soldiers to die in eternal battle against contagiously weak terror groups will only exacerbate the neoconservative failure in plugging the spigot of fundamentalist recruitment. The neoconservative wet dream that was the decade-long Iraqi occupation proved that ideological violence cannot pacify ideological violence. The conflicts of the world need to be mediated, not bombed!
The Obama Doctrine advocates that America organize international coordination to replace historical blood feuds with genuine peace because there can be no peace through war. Obama’s foreign philosophy of epically persuasive diplomacy is the most sage and judicious exertion of American power, and there is no better way to advance American interests by convincing the world that everyone shares America’s interests.
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