• The Obama Doctrine: The Audacity of Ignorance

    March 28, 2016

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Iraq, Libya, Syria


    Think what it must be like to be one of America’s allies.

    You enjoy some trade, watch Beyonce and Brad Pitt at the movies, and visit Disneyland on holiday. But then there’s America again at your cubicle, asking again that you join some coalition, get some troops into another wacky American overseas intervention for freedom, or regime change, or to stop another impending genocide only American can see or stop. What can you do? It’s hard to say no knowing what a big bully the U.S. is, but given how poorly the last one worked out, and the one before that, and the one before that, nobody at home is in favor of another round. Still, you’re stuck giving something, so maybe a few special forces, or a couple of airstrikes, as a token…

    And then you get blamed for being a freeloader when things don’t work out, or America loses interest and expected you to pick up the slack. And why not? America has a lot of coalitions and freedom to look after globally, and just can’t take care of everything.

    The Obama Doctrine

    That bit of sarcasm unfortuately seems to describe the “Obama Doctrine,” as laid out in a legacy-killing interview with the president in Atlantic magazine.

    Specifically, Obama was referring to the 2011 conflict in Libya. Coming on the heels of the fading Arab Spring, Libyan autocrat Muammar Qaddafi’s 34 year stable reign appeared to be weakening. The U.S., after decades of hostility with Libya, had reopened diplomatic relations in 2006. As part of that deal, Qaddafi rid himself of a nascent nuclear program. As unrest, however, spread in 2011, Qaddafi threatened a violent crackdown.

    Obama (all quotes are from Atlantic): “At that point, you’ve got Europe and a number of Gulf countries who despise Qaddafi, or are concerned on a humanitarian basis, who are calling for action. But what has been a habit over the last several decades in these circumstances is people pushing us to act but then showing an unwillingness to put any skin in the game.”

    While there is no doubt many nations expressed concern (who wouldn’t?), it appears only the United States wanted to drive those thoughts into armed conflict. While Obama was allegedly wary of another U.S. military action in the Middle East, his advisors, lead by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, invoked that magic Washington, DC word “genocide,” claiming Qaddafi was about to “slaughter his own people,” and stopping that was a foreign policy “to-do” item for the United States.

    Obama: “So what I said at that point was, we should act as part of an international coalition. But because this is not at the core of our interests, we need to get a UN mandate; we need Europeans and Gulf countries to be actively involved in the coalition; we will apply the military capabilities that are unique to us, but we expect others to carry their weight.”

    Free Riders

    But, according to Obama, that is where the good news ended.

    Obama: “When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong, there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up… [French leader] Sarkozy wanted to trumpet the flights he was making in the air campaign, despite the fact that we had wiped out all the air defenses and essentially set up the entire infrastructure for the intervention.”

    As for the UK, British Prime Minister David Cameron soon stopped paying attention, becoming “distracted by a range of other things,” according to Obama. The basic idea was having arranged the intervention in Libya, and having proceeded with a very small coalition that for practical purposes included no Arab nations, it was going to be up to France and the UK to take over the messy part of the operation, which was ill-defined by the U.S. except as “whatever happened next.”

    And when France and Britain did not jump to achieve America’s goals, what was Obama’s characterization of them?

    “Free riders,” he said.

    The Audacity of Ignorance

    What that Obama Doctrine omits is that the coalition, such as it was, was formed to prevent Qaddafi from harming large numbers of Libyans. However, the mission quickly and without any outside mandate morphed into regime change, with the goal now set to kill Qaddafi and replace him with, well, the U.S. would find someone. As could have been easily foreseen given the failure of a similar policy in Iraq, and as subsequent events proved all too clearly in Libya, the result was chaos. Libya is now a failed state, home to its own Islamic State franchise.

    The audacity of the American president to blame even part of that outcome on other nations speaks to dark things in the American character, and American foreign policy, which will continue to plague the world for some time. And while many globally fear a President Trump, they will be advised to recall Hillary Clinton’s leading role in the Libyan disaster as well.

    Washington lives and works in a bubble, of its own making, of its own ignorance.

    Inside that bubble, American goals are deemed, de facto, to be world goals, and coalitions should form like crystals around them. America alone is the arbiter of what “genocides” need or need not be stopped, and at what point the United States should start something, and then back away, and then perhaps return. The American foreign policy establishment never seems to notice that for all the genocides that need stopping, all the evil dictators that need toppling, and regimes that need changing, few if any nations seem to share America’s zeal for military intervention. Few countries seem so committed to bypassing other tools of foreign policy (diplomacy, trade) and jumping to the literal attack. In fact, few countries seem to want to put skin into the game, to use Obama’s expression, perhaps in large part because it is not their game.

    History is Not Generous

    If Libya was an isolated example, history might be more generous to 21st century America.

    But one must look to Afghanistan, where a shell of the original coalition sent to bust up the Taliban now acts to maintain some-sort of American vassal state. Iraq of course is the uber-example, a war to stop another evil dictator (formerly supported by the United States) that changed under its coalition’s nose into creating a whole new nation-state in America’s image. The same is happening in real-time in Syria, where the U.S. State Department still believes a coalition of 62 nations is furthering whatever America’s goal there might be.

    Obama and all of the presidential candidates also keep saying much the same thing about how the Sunnis and Kurds need to “step up” to fight ISIS.

    Standing above them all is the grandest of American coalitions at present, that one that seeks to smite Islamic State, in the many countries it has metastasized into. But funny, one hears little any more about any coalition against al Qaeda. Meh, times change, gotta move on.

    One foreign commentator said the United States has “turned into a nation of idiots, incapable of doing anything except conducting military operations against primitive countries.”

    That, perhaps, is the clearest statement of the Obama Doctrine yet.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...


      An valid dissection of Obama’s legacy will only be possible by dispassionate historians not yet born-certainly not by me because I despised the guy the moment I heard him speak. Mr. Fish’s now classic cartoon with the ghost of MLK asking Obama what his dream was got to the core of Obama’s guiding ethos for me. Obama’s response was, “Not to piss off rich people.”

      03/28/16 9:23 AM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      More like the clarity of obeisance; he, Billary, the Don (and most likely, Bernie) are engaged in the Wall $treet-theater of Bush-diving for CIA Company Mobfather, Poppy.

      03/28/16 11:16 AM | Comment Link

    • Helen Marshall said...


      Let’s see, we would not be in Afghanistan if we had not helped create the Taliban with our effort to give the USSR “its own Vietnam” – thank you zbigniew Brzezinski and Jimmy Carter – and then helped create AQ by sending lots of troops to Saudi Arabia, inflaming bin Laden…and yes bin Laden was in Afghanistan as a guest of the Taliban, who would have turned him over if we’d provided any evidence of his actual involvement in 9/11 – but bombs are so much more fun! (And good for the bomb making businesses, of which we have quite a few…) No need to discuss Iraq (“he tried to kill my daddy”)..

      03/28/16 12:11 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “One foreign commentator said the United States has “turned into a nation of idiots, incapable of doing anything except conducting military operations against primitive countries.”

      Oh, yeah? First of all, Mr. Know-it-all, the term here is The Dumbest Country on the Planet. Second, this country gave the world McDonalds and Burger King and Papa Johns. So we are quite capable of killing people on many levels. What we need is an intervention to stop our idiotic interventions. Let the world kill itself. It does not need our help.

      03/28/16 1:39 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      03/28/16 2:10 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Audacity? AUDACITY?? Let me show you fucking AUDACITY…


      These scum sucking motherfuckers have now crossed the goddamned line. Who need’s terrorists when these cocksucking legal thieves can stop you, search, and confiscate ANY cash you have on you..simply by claiming the money is the result of criminal activity. And you don’t have a fucking leg to stand on. PERIOD. Simply do a search and you can find dozens of these cases. All I know is Mexican road bandits got nothin up on Murikan LEO bandits now. sheezus. I give it a month before someone kills a LEO to keep from being robbed. And I wouldn’t blame them. This is an OUTRAGE!!

      Fuck Obama’s ignorance. I don’t give a shit anymore.

      03/28/16 4:46 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Rich Bauer said…
      “Oh, yeah? First of all, Mr. Know-it-all, the term here is The Dumbest Country on the Planet. ”

      Excuse me Rich…correction.. it’s the Dumbest FUCKING Country on the Planet.

      03/28/16 4:51 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      ps…and yeah..I”M PISSED OFF. More pissed! off than I’ve been in months. I mean rock-hard PISSED. Dehydrated-rock-hard PISSED. Pissed off, so pissed! it goes way beyond the pissed! we know into a whole different dimension of pissed!. I mean..I’m trans-pissed! pissed!. Meta-pissed!!. Pissed! collapsed on itself so far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Pissed! gotten so dense that no intellect can escape. Singularity pissed!. Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury pissed!. I’m emitting more pissed! in one second than our entire galaxy emits in a year!!. Quasar pissed!!. Nothing in our universe can really be this pissed!!. Perhaps this is some primordial fragment from the original big bang of pissed!!!. Some pure essence of a stupid so uncontaminated by anything else as to be …ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!
      This is it. This is an epiphany for me.

      I swear, if ever there was a moment that I would tear off some motherfucking USG/POLICE State asshole’s head just for looking at me..this is it. ….

      bartender…quick..quick..I need pure, unadulterated bonafide, certified 200prf Everclear. Now. And leave the bottle. fuck. fuck. fuck. And don’t bother me.

      03/28/16 5:05 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      03/28/16 9:26 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      The group that presented to the UN council its finding that Ghaddafi intended to “kill or harm large numbers of his own people”, Amnesty International France, later retracted their own report. The original report played a key part in getting the coalition to go along with the “no-fly zone” “intervention”. They said that they had fallen for what turned out to be propaganda and misinformation; one must note that they did not admit that they themselves had been responsible for the misinformation in the first place.

      The French branch of Amnesty International must have had some push from politicians to proceed with the false information in its original reporting, as we later saw that France almost immediately benefited financially by stealing Libya’s bank deposits once the invasion started.

      Furthermore, this was an invasion, not an intervention (whatever the fuck that word was supposed to mean). The NATO coalition immediately bombed schools, apartment buildings and other civilian infrastructure, the water supply system, and food storage facilities; NOT just the Libyan Air Force, which was the only target permitted in the imposition of a no-fly zone.

      The only reason the other countries joined the US was to participate in the sharing of the spoils. That promise was what got them to go along with it in the first place. Having once gotten their share of Libya’s gold, shares of its oil resources, etc., they went away afterwards happy that it had paid off. They and the US were not interested in the Libyan people after the invasion. They weren’t interested in the Libyan people beforehand, either. Had they been, they might have taken note of the fact that Ghaddafi had a 90% approval rating from his own people and that Africans from all over the continent were flocking to Libya, which they saw as a beacon of hope.

      There isn’t any point in pretending any of these world “leaders” were interested in anything but plunder and the illegal grab of another country’s riches, or that the assassination of Ghaddafi wasn’t intentional. And they – particularly Obama – do not “regret” that Libya is a failed state. That was the goal. Given that the anti-Ghaddafi “rebels” are now known to have been al-Qaeda operatives funded by the CIA and that they have morphed into ISIS within Libya as well as other countries, which is quite a lucrative outcome for the MIC given that they can now spend enormous sums to keep the War of Terror going and are successfully getting quasi-Patriot Acts enacted all over Europe as a result, they must be very satisfied that the goal was so well met.

      Regrets? Bullshit.

      03/29/16 7:25 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      Hey, Pitch,

      The US has become such a third-world nation that now the DoJ and the local police are actually fighting over who gets to keep the spoils when they rob the citizens on the side of the road.

      There’s gotta be some humor in that, in a sick sort of way, right? I mean, look, at least they’ve dropped the mealy-mouthed, feigned “rule of law” crap altogether, haven’t they? Although once the Supreme Court said that the people didn’t have the right to elect the president (back in ’00), and Congress passed the NDAA and Oblahblah (once a lawyer in a former life) signed it, which stated that the president could kill anyone he wanted, shit like this shouldn’t be a surprise.

      The only surprising thing is how supine the public still is. Idiots.

      03/29/16 7:42 AM | Comment Link

    Leave A Comment

    Mail (will not be published) (required)