On Wednesday June 24, IWP welcomed Dr. Colin Dueck, an Associate Professor at George Mason University’s School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs to discuss his newest book, entitled, The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today. In his remarks, Dr. Dueck discussed what he believes to be the essence of President Barack Obama’s grand strategy as it pertains to foreign policy and its repercussions in the sphere of international affairs.
Dr. Dueck began his discussion by addressing the Obama Doctrine in terms commonly heard in the outlets of contemporary media. Dueck noted that phrases such as, “leading from behind,” and, “no real strategy” are now inevitably tied to the President’s foreign policy legacy.
Identifying the terms “retrenchment” and “accommodation” as major factors informing Obama’s foreign policy during the past six years, Dr. Dueck briefly discussed two critical cases in which Obama’s leniency was not in line with U.S. national interests or those of her allies – the first being the case of “pushing the reset button” in US-Russian relations, and the second being the enacting of policies designed to accommodate Iran. This, along with the second aspect of the Obama Doctrine, has led to the declining approval ratings of the President’s foreign policy.
President Obama, according to Dr. Dueck, is not a risk-taker at heart. In his remarks, Dr. Dueck stated that the President’s international stance is a result of a focus based on domestic policies. President Obama’s strategic international retrenchment was implemented so that he could keep himself and the American people focused on these domestic issues as well as to reduce the risk of accidentally sparking an international crisis. However, according to Dr. Dueck, this has had the opposite effect of what Obama had hoped for. ISIS is now a major threat to the U.S. at home and abroad, Russia is continuing to act aggressively against its neighbors, and Iran is not one to be trusted to honor the kind of “deal” that Obama’s and Secretary of State John Kerry’s team are trying to put together.
Dr. Dueck shared two major pieces of advice for the President to heed during his last years in office. The first suggestion was that Obama should have less retrenchment so that deterrence can be a tool for the U.S. to use again as it has in the past. Second, Obama should be less accommodating to his foreign enemies, and he should not be so concerned with provoking them.
The lecture was followed by a question and answer session that further discussed Dr. Dueck’s ideas on the Obama Doctrine and American foreign policy.