Obama’s reluctance to articulate a grand doctrine has off-sided both realists and idealists. “On issues like whether to intervene in Libya there’s really not a compromise and consensus,” says one international affairs expert. “You can’t be a little bit realist and a little bit democratic when deciding whether or not to stop a massacre.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Obama says you get into trouble when you “apply blanket policies on the complexities of the current world situation”. Nevertheless, he may be moving toward something of a doctrine. One of his advisers described the President’s actions in Libya as “leading from behind.” Not a campaign-winning slogan but an apt description of the balance Obama seems to be finding in a world in which the relative power of the U.S. is declining and in which it is reviled in many parts.