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What Is the Obama Doctrine and How Does It Relate to Our Founders’ Vision?

Now a year and a half into the Obama administration, the Obama Doctrine of diplomatic and military strategy is becoming clear. President Obamas speech at West Point last month outlined the main elements of the Obama Doctrine: greater reliance on international institutions; substituting soft power for hard power; and a more subdued and less self-reliant America. To further delineate their views, Vice President Biden told the European Parliament in Brussels that the European Union has a legitimate claim to the title of capital of the free world, a claim that reveals his true feelings towards the socialist union of states. This doctrine was not the vision of our Founders.

The Obama Doctrine: Soft Power and Big Government

Soft Power

President Obama’s dream for a new international order has informed virtually all of his administrations foreign policy initiatives. And almost all of them demonstrate just why sacrificing American sovereignty and security at the altar of global bureaucracy is such a terrible idea. Obamas effort to substitute diplomacy, foreign aid and other instruments for defense are a recipe for disaster, as well. Soft power is not a substitute for hard power.

President Obama has also pressed the case that the United States can no longer afford to defend itself. Indeed, the administration continues to make the case that defense spending is to blame for high deficits and slow economic growth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gutting defense will not keep the White House from spending the nation into the ground but it will make the world much less safe.

Charles Krauthammer gives a whirlwind tour of what the Obama Doctrine has looked like in action: failed engagement with Iran, surrender to Russia on missile defense, appeasement of Syria, support for pro-Chavez leftists in Honduras, and a gratuitous slap at Britain over the Falkland Islands. And what has it secured? A completely fake deal between Turkey, Brazil and Iran that will do nothing to slow Irans nuclear weapons program but has already made new meaningful sanctions next to impossible.

The Obama Doctrine will put our troops in harms way without the modern equipment they will need; with allies who will increasingly doubt our resolve; and at the mercy of an international order that will value their lives for less than the power which the White House wants to put in their hands.

Big Government

Vice President Biden’s quote about Brussels having claim to the capital of the free world is indicative of the Obama Administrations love for government and spending. The European Union is a profoundly anti-democratic institution, created and forced on member states by internationalist leftist elites despite widespread public disapproval. It should be no surprise that the same administration that cant bring itself to enforce our laws and protect our borders would give such strong support to an institution that has so undermined national sovereignty in Europe.

One might hope that the Obama administration would look at the path Europe has gone down (a bloated welfare state that saps economic growth and bleeds military spending) and decide to change course. But President Barack Obama’s actions prove otherwise. Instead of cutting domestic spending and reining in entitlements, President Obama passed a $862 billion failed stimulus and created a brand new health care entitlement all while laying the groundwork for future cuts to our nations defenses. As Krauthammer wrote: This is retreat by design and, indeed, on principle.

Our Founders Vision: Strength and Freedom

The Obama Administrations approach to foreign policy seems to be that we can solve every conflict through rhetoric and reliance on the beneficence of other nations. But our Founding Fathers were not so naive.  The Federalist Papers argue that peace is best achieved through strength, that our independence wi
ll be respected only if we are powerful enough to defend ourselves, and that sometimes peace and war are not always left to our option.

A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral, Alexander Hamilton wrote. A foreign policy of weakness is a recipe for disaster. It abandons the two basic principles of the Founders approach to foreign policy: to protect the rights of American citizens, and to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the country.

To learn more about what our Founders said about national security and defense, become a member of Heritage and receive a free copy of How to Read the Federalist Papers!

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