President Obama's commencement address at West Point this weekend outline has been received by commentators as the outline of a "new security strategy." The key words of Obama's emerging doctrine, according to The Washington Post's Michael Shear, are "diplomacy and engagement." What do pundits make of this important strategic speech?
- Reminiscent of Eisenhower The Atlantic's James Fallows sees elements of Eisenhower in Obama's address. "Together," he quotes Eisenhower as saying, "we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose."
- Reminiscent of Carter Fallows also notes the similarities to one of Jimmy Carter's speeches, which Fallows himself worked on. Iraq veteran John Lilyea sees echos of Carter as well, and he's much less happy about it. This, Lilyea argues, is "the same failed policy ... that left Central America exposed to a communist insurgency, the policy that enabled the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan, the policy that brought on the Iran-Iraq War." He sums it up with a simple phrase: "rose-colored glasses."
- This Is Nuts Arthur Herman,
writing at National Review, thinks Obama's security policy essentially
amounts to a plan to scrap the military. He's not a fan: "without ready
military power and the will to use it, even the most exquisite
diplomacy is useless"
- Retreads Familiar Ground for Obama, argues Think Progress' Matt Duss.
His examples of familiar themes: "American power derived from American
economic stability, and the strengthening of international institutions
to facilitate a greater sharing of global responsibilities." He
approves of the president's "acknowledgement ... that the idea that
America can be everywhere at once isn't strength, it's stupidity." He
also notices that "the speech ... lacked any really explicit digs at
the previous administration's disastrous foreign policy legacy,"
although he thinks Obama made it clear that he didn't go in for his
- Obama Falls Into Line Foreign Policy's Will Inboden
clearly disagrees, thinking the speech "provides a great example of the
structural continuities in American foreign policy." Obama, he says,
after running his campaign denouncing the Iraq War and doubting the surge ... is now essentially declaring Iraq a victory ... After spending much of his first year in office downplaying if not ignoring democracy and human rights promotion, he is now making democracy and human rights promotion one of the four pillars of his national security strategy. After previously rhetorically distancing himself from American exceptionalism, he now says that a "fundamental part of our strategy is America's support for those universal rights that formed the creed of our founding."
- I Like It--Hope He Follows It Spencer Ackerman approves of Obama's "purpose-driven multilateralism" and "the recalibration of civilian and military tools of national security," as well as the "warnings against both overstretch and decline." He's not as happy, however, with Obama's demonstrated ability "to view al-Qaeda ... in context and exhort the country against hysteria" when contrasted with his actual willingness to compromise and give in to that hysteria. Ackerman would like to see the policy match the rhetoric when it comes to what Obama calls "fidelity to the rule of law and our Constitution."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.