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By mid-2015, the Obama presidency will be entering its final stages, and the race among the successors in both parties will be well underway. And while experts have already formed a provisional understanding of the Obama administration's foreign policy goals, the shape of the "Obama Doctrine" is finally coming into full view. It has been consistently cautious since Obama w By mid-2015, the Obama presidency will be entering its final stages, and the race among the successors in both parties will be well underway. And while experts have already formed a provisional understanding of the Obama administration's foreign policy goals, the shape of the "Obama Doctrine" is finally coming into full view. It has been consistently cautious since Obama was inaugurated in 2009, but recent events in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Far East have led an increasingly large number of foreign policy experts to conclude that caution has transformed into weakness. In The Obama Doctrine, Colin Dueck analyzes and explains what the Obama Doctrine in foreign policy actually is, and maps out the competing visions on offer from the Republican Party. Dueck, a leading scholar of US foreign policy, contends it is now becoming clear that Obama's policy of international retrenchment is in large part a function of his emphasis on achieving domestic policy goals. There have been some successes in the approach, but there have also been costs. For instance, much of the world no longer trusts the US to exert its will in international politics, and America's adversaries overseas have asserted themselves with increasing frequency. The Republican Party will target these perceived weaknesses in the 2016 presidential campaign and develop competing counter-doctrines in the process. Dueck explains that within the Republican Party, there are two basic impulses vying with each other: neo-isolationism and forceful internationalism. Dueck subdivides each impulse into the specific agenda of the various factions within the party: Tea Party nationalism, neoconservatism, conservative internationalism, and neo-isolationism. He favors a realistic but forceful US internationalism, and sees the willingness to disengage from the world by some elements of the party as dangerous. After dissecting the various strands, he articulates an agenda of forward-leaning American realism--that is, a policy in which the US engages with the world and is willing to use threats of force for realist ends. The Obama Doctrine not only provides a sharp appraisal of foreign policy in the Obama era; it lays out an alternative approach to marshaling American power that will help shape the foreign policy debate in the run-up to the 2016 elections.


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By mid-2015, the Obama presidency will be entering its final stages, and the race among the successors in both parties will be well underway. And while experts have already formed a provisional understanding of the Obama administration's foreign policy goals, the shape of the "Obama Doctrine" is finally coming into full view. It has been consistently cautious since Obama w By mid-2015, the Obama presidency will be entering its final stages, and the race among the successors in both parties will be well underway. And while experts have already formed a provisional understanding of the Obama administration's foreign policy goals, the shape of the "Obama Doctrine" is finally coming into full view. It has been consistently cautious since Obama was inaugurated in 2009, but recent events in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Far East have led an increasingly large number of foreign policy experts to conclude that caution has transformed into weakness. In The Obama Doctrine, Colin Dueck analyzes and explains what the Obama Doctrine in foreign policy actually is, and maps out the competing visions on offer from the Republican Party. Dueck, a leading scholar of US foreign policy, contends it is now becoming clear that Obama's policy of international retrenchment is in large part a function of his emphasis on achieving domestic policy goals. There have been some successes in the approach, but there have also been costs. For instance, much of the world no longer trusts the US to exert its will in international politics, and America's adversaries overseas have asserted themselves with increasing frequency. The Republican Party will target these perceived weaknesses in the 2016 presidential campaign and develop competing counter-doctrines in the process. Dueck explains that within the Republican Party, there are two basic impulses vying with each other: neo-isolationism and forceful internationalism. Dueck subdivides each impulse into the specific agenda of the various factions within the party: Tea Party nationalism, neoconservatism, conservative internationalism, and neo-isolationism. He favors a realistic but forceful US internationalism, and sees the willingness to disengage from the world by some elements of the party as dangerous. After dissecting the various strands, he articulates an agenda of forward-leaning American realism--that is, a policy in which the US engages with the world and is willing to use threats of force for realist ends. The Obama Doctrine not only provides a sharp appraisal of foreign policy in the Obama era; it lays out an alternative approach to marshaling American power that will help shape the foreign policy debate in the run-up to the 2016 elections.

30 review for The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today

  1. 4 out of 5

    Randal White

    As a student of foreign policy, I must state that this is one of the best books on the subject that I have ever read. There is enough information here to easily fill a multi-semester graduate level college class. And the timeliness of it is extraordinary, current up to late 2014. And it is written in easily understood language and style. The author sets out to explain, in a mostly non-partisan manner, the ideas behind the strategy that President Obama follows in making foreign policy decisions. As a student of foreign policy, I must state that this is one of the best books on the subject that I have ever read. There is enough information here to easily fill a multi-semester graduate level college class. And the timeliness of it is extraordinary, current up to late 2014. And it is written in easily understood language and style. The author sets out to explain, in a mostly non-partisan manner, the ideas behind the strategy that President Obama follows in making foreign policy decisions. I will quote the author’s own words to explain: “At the end of the day, Obama’s highest priorities are domestic, and that this have had a powerful effect on his foreign policy choices…..He has said, in his own words, that he looks to “transform this nation”, “end wars”, and focus on “nation-building right here at home””. The author states: “the purpose of Obama’s grand strategy has been to retrench America’s strategic presence overseas without undue risk to basic U.S. interests, and to encourage new patterns of international cooperation through diplomatic accommodations”. After discussing the pro’s and con’s of this strategy, Dueck concludes that Obama’s strategy has not worked as planned. The author suggests that this is because of incorrect assumptions made, a reticence to come to decisions, and an inability to “impose a serious coherence on specific…U.S. policies”. The author believes that Obama decided early on that the main focus of his presidency would be on domestic issues, and that he would try to not jeopardize this focus with controversial foreign policy issues. Dueck spends the latter part of his book on “Republican Alternatives to the Obama Doctrine”. I don’t know why he decided to single out the Republican’s, his points could easily be adopted by and crafted to either political party. He lists suggestions on how foreign policy could be better crafted. He places emphasis on a more coherent and consistent strategy, so foreign actors would be better able to predict how we will respond to issues. I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the upcoming presidential election. You will not be disappointed. I received this book as an early reviewer for NetGalley, in exchange for a fair review. The fair review was easy, as the book was so great! Anyone who follows my reviews knows that a “5 star” rating is a rare occurrence for me. I have no hesitance in giving Dueck's book 5 stars!

  2. 4 out of 5

    The American Conservative

    It has become a media ritual in Washington. A few months after a president takes office, pundits start debating whether the new White House occupant has a foreign-policy “doctrine.” This preoccupation is another example of either the increasing sophistication of American journalists or of the intellectual pretensions of our pundits—not unlike their use of the term “narrative,” once employed mainly by literary scholars, or their frequent references to a professional economist’s favorite, “moral ha It has become a media ritual in Washington. A few months after a president takes office, pundits start debating whether the new White House occupant has a foreign-policy “doctrine.” This preoccupation is another example of either the increasing sophistication of American journalists or of the intellectual pretensions of our pundits—not unlike their use of the term “narrative,” once employed mainly by literary scholars, or their frequent references to a professional economist’s favorite, “moral hazard.” What pundits really have in mind when they ask whether this or that president has a foreign-policy doctrine is whether he has, well, a foreign policy. But it’s not clear what political scientist Colin Dueck means when he discusses the foreign-policy doctrine of President Obama: he seems to be using the terms “doctrine” and “grand strategy” interchangeably, as in the title of this book, The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today. This confusion is evident from the first sentence, where Dueck suggests that every modern American president “has a foreign policy doctrine” and then goes on to critique the grand strategy of President Obama. So what is it: doctrine or grand strategy? http://www.theamericanconservative.co...

  3. 4 out of 5

    John Strohl

    Dueck's synthesis of Barack Obama's foreign policy into a particular doctrine seems to lend itself to critics that believe there is no doctrine rather than a solid grand strategy. Dueck himself is a conservative, but this is only apparent in his proposed solutions to perceived foreign policy issues. Rather, this is well-balanced with a slightly conservative if not apolitical critical analysis of the last eight years of American foreign policy. Dueck's writing style is easily digestible, but dry, Dueck's synthesis of Barack Obama's foreign policy into a particular doctrine seems to lend itself to critics that believe there is no doctrine rather than a solid grand strategy. Dueck himself is a conservative, but this is only apparent in his proposed solutions to perceived foreign policy issues. Rather, this is well-balanced with a slightly conservative if not apolitical critical analysis of the last eight years of American foreign policy. Dueck's writing style is easily digestible, but dry, though this is a symptom of proper analysis of any kind, rather than a style issue.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melek

    I'm not sure about what to make of this book. There have been good parts and bad parts, none of which that I loved or hated enough to give a proper rating. I'm going with a 3/5 simply because that's the most neutral rating I can give.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Christiansen

    I thought the book was a measured analysis of the foreign policy of the current administration. I would recommend it to others.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Mulcahy-Miller

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tomislav

  8. 5 out of 5

    John Sargent

  9. 4 out of 5

    Imad Mawlawi

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nate

  11. 5 out of 5

    Turgut

  12. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Mangan

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  16. 5 out of 5

    Will

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Quinn

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kay-cee

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mauricio Santoro

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Henry

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sjefmaestro

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dale

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim Lane

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

  25. 4 out of 5

    P Mullane

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stanislav

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jarita

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ingvild Rygg

  30. 4 out of 5

    Javier Rivero

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