But when it comes to stating guiding principles and what issues are at stake, Obama is more adept at setting up straw men than articulating clear policy. The president says he believes that terrorism is still the major threat America faces, but then adds, "A strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naive and unsustainable." Has anyone ever suggested such a strategy?
But perhaps the president's most disingenuous invocation of the Obama Doctrine in his West Point speech involved Syria. The civil war there so far has cost more than 150,000 lives, has forced more than 2.5 million Syrians to flee, and has served as a major recruiting and training ground for Islamist jihadists on both sides of the conflict, with Iranian support for the Bashar al-Assad regime and al-Qaida fighters joining the ranks of those opposing the regime. Despite the administration's claims to have forced the regime to destroy its chemical weapons, new reports suggest that Assad forces used chlorine bombs against civilians in rebel-held territory in April.
So what is the president's response regarding his feckless action on Syria to date? "As president, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian war, and I believe that is the right decision." Who exactly ever proposed sending U.S. troops to fight in Syria? No one.
"American influence is always stronger when we lead by example," the president told West Point graduates. He's right about that -- but his example has been a poor model on which to base foreign policy. He intervenes when he feels like it, with little or no consultation: In Libya, he used military assets; in Egypt, his words encouraged the ouster of a troublesome partner. Yet he does little or nothing to help freedom fighters in Iran or Syria, despite drawing red lines in the sand with the latter and cozying up to wolves in sheep's clothing with the former.
Forget about doctrines. Obama might as well employ a Ouija board to dictate his policy.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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