Four eminent scholars and policy practitioners debate the president’s worldview and how it will shape American interests and options in the next administration.
On March 12, Derek Chollet, Ellen Laipson, Michael Doran, and Michael Mandelbaum addressed a Washington Institute Policy Forum inspired by the controversial Atlantic cover story “The Obama Doctrine.” Chollet is the counselor and senior advisor for security and defense policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Laipson is a distinguished fellow and president emeritus at the Stimson Center. Doran is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of their remarks, not a verbatim transcript.
Since his first presidential campaign, Barack Obama has sought to redefine American strength and rebalance the U.S. leadership role in world affairs. He does not think doctrinally, instead seeing global challenges in more particular ways that are best addressed with a long-term approach.
When he assumed office, Obama believed that U.S. policy was imbalanced, and he sought to restore balance on several fronts: between priorities in different regions, between domestic and international priorities, within various U.S. partnerships, and in the application of different tools of statecraft. His conception of strategic balance recognizes the limits of U.S. power and resources. While this view may be politically incorrect, grand strategy mandates the identification of priorities and corresponding resource allocation. This process is complicated by the fact that the United States faces more demands than any other nation, but America cannot do it all.
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