The Obama Doctrine

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THE PLANK DECEMBER 27, 2006

The Obama Doctrine

Via Matt Yglesias, this New York Sun piece on Obama's foreign policy views has a few notable items in it. The lead paragraph hints that Obama would "support a missile strike on Iran if other methods fail to get Tehran to abandon its nuclear program." But he also favors starting direct talks with Tehran rather than sitting around idly, as the current administration prefers. I'm curious, though, is there any major presidential candidate who thinks an attack on Iran would be a terrible idea? Besides, of course, Chuck Hagel?

Then there's the question of humanitarian interventions. First: "[Obama's] statements and associations in foreign policy circles also suggest he might, as president, be more willing to use force to intervene in humanitarian crises than other presidents have." On the flip side, one of his key advisors, Samantha Power, says that the idea of forcible humanitarian intervention is "dead" for now, and opposes, for instance, sending troops into Darfur at this point. (That might not be too popular around this office, although it's worth noting that people like Alex de Waal have been saying for some time that military intervention would make the bloodbath in Darfur worse rather than better.)

There's more in the piece, but those were the most striking points--at least, apart from Obama suggest in a brief aside that he would back military action against Pakistan if Musharraf's government was overthrown (huh?). The main theme that emerges here is that Obama "would make promotion of human rights a more serious factor in American diplomacy." Or, at least, that's what he's hinting at the moment.

--Bradford Plumer

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