James Joyner: Obama Doctrine, Reagan Doctrine





James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council and a contributing expert at Wikistrat.

As his second term is about to begin, we may finally be seeing the emergence of an Obama Doctrine in foreign policy. It's one that looks very much like the Reagan Doctrine.
 
In his 1985 State of the Union address, Reagan asserted that "we cannot play innocents abroad in a world that's not innocent; nor can we be passive when freedom is under siege." He urged that "we must stand by all our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth."
 
A few months later, Charles Krauthammer dubbed this "overt and unashamed American support for anti-Communist revolution" the Reagan Doctrine in a Time magazine essay. Its essence was use of proxies rather than direct American intervention. If a legitimate popular uprising was taking place against a communist regime in the developing world, Reagan reasoned that it was both morally right and in America's interests to help it with arms and material support.
 
President Obama has quietly adopted a similar strategy, one using NATO allies, France in particular, as a proxy...


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