The Barry Doctrine

Dorothy Rabinowitz on Obama’s “blame America, I’m not Bush” campaign:

…[Obama went] to Europe not as the voice of his nation, but as a missionary with a message of atonement for its errors. Which were, as he perceived them — arrogance, dismissiveness, Guantanamo, deficiencies in its attitudes toward the Muslim world, and the presidency of Harry Truman and his decision to drop the atomic bomb, which ended World War II.

No sitting American president had ever delivered indictments of this kind while abroad, or for that matter at home, or been so ostentatiously modest about the character and accomplishment of the nation he led. He was mediator, an agent of change, a judge, apportioning blame — and he was above the battle.

None of this display during Mr. Obama’s recent travels could have come as a surprise to legions of his supporters, nor would many of them be daunted by their new president’s preoccupation with our moral failures. Five decades of teaching in colleges and universities across the land, portraying the U.S. as a power mainly responsible for injustice and evil, whose military might was ever a danger to the world — a nation built on the fruits of greed, rapacity and racism — have had their effect. The products of this education find nothing strange in a president quick to focus on the theme of American moral failure. He may not share many of their views, but there is, nonetheless, much that they find familiar about him.

The same can’t be said for the large numbers of Americans who caught up with the details of the president’s apology tour. Presidents have been transformed by office, and Mr. Obama may yet be one of them. But on the evidence so far, he has, as few presidents before him, much to transform. Or, at least, to understand.

Since that bridge too far to Europe, ordinary Americans, including some who voted for Mr. Obama, have shown evidence of a quiet but durable resentment over the list of grievances against the United States that the president brought to the world’s attention while overseas. There are certain things that can’t be taken back. There are images that are hard to forget. Anger of this kind has an enduring power that could, in the end, haunt this presidency.

And a Wall Street Journal editorial calls for the release of the information on al Qaeda terrorists and their plots, curiously missing from the release of Bush Justice Department memos, gleaned from the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” of al Qaeda captives:

…the release of the memos has unleashed the liberal mob, with renewed calls in Congress for a “truth commission” and even, perhaps… prosecutions of the other authors. Mr. Obama has hinted that while his Administration won’t prosecute CIA officials, it may try to sate the mob by going after Bush officials who wrote the memos.

One major concern here is what Mr. Obama’s decision to release these memos says about his own political leadership. He claims that one of his goals as President is to restore more comity to our politics, especially concerning national security. He also knows he needs a CIA willing to take risks to keep the country safe. Yet Mr. Obama seems more than willing to indulge the revenge fantasies of the left, as long as its potential victims served a different President. And while he is willing to release classified documents about interrogation techniques, Mr. Obama refuses to release documents that more fully discuss their results.

All of this might appease the President’s MoveOn.org base, but he can’t expect to satisfy them without also weakening American intelligence capabilities. The risk-averse CIA that so grievously failed in the run-up to 9/11 was a product of a spy culture that still remembered the Church Committee of the 1970s and the Iran-Contra recriminations of the 1980s. Mr. Obama needs to stop this score-settling now, and he can start by promptly releasing the documents that reveal what the CIA learned from its interrogations.

Ben Shapiro on Barry’s “overweening sense of self-importance”:

… In Obama’s own mind, the globe began spinning only with his glorious exit from Ann Dunham’s uterus. He can’t be blamed for things that happened when he was a child; after all, how was he supposed to stop Bill Ayers from blowing things up, or JFK from botching the Bay of Pigs? He can’t even be blamed for subsidizing Ayers’ terrorist sympathizing or [Nicaragua’s Daniel] Ortega’s dictatorial ranting — after all, he can’t rewrite history, can he? Hence the Obama Doctrine: it wasn’t me. I’m busy junking America’s philosophical past, says Obama. Give me a few years to remake America. Then we’ll talk.

Obama seems to believe that if he just discards American history — if he apologizes for our actions in Europe, in Latin America, in the Muslim world — the rest of the world will offer America a clean slate. That demonstrates, first and foremost, a tremendous lack of pride in America’s legacy of freedom and liberty around the globe. America generally needs a clean slate far less than any other country on the face of the earth.

Secondly, the Obama Doctrine demonstrates Obama’s massively overweening sense of self-importance. Foreign leaders are not idiots — if they sense they can elicit concessions from America simply by inflating Obama’s confidence, they’ll do it. Even assuming Obama’s supposed international popularity, that popularity does not translate into a better international deal for America. Foreign leaders can stroke Obama’s ego while undermining America’s strength in the world. The world’s fawning patronage of Barack Obama does not mean the world will treat America as an ally.

That is because nations view each other historically, not based on what they’ve done the past few months. Viewing Germany as a peaceful socialistic country, ignoring its fascist past, would fail to explain their panoply of foreign and domestic policies. Viewing Russia as a corrupt mobocracy ignores its undercurrents of communistic thuggery, relics of the Soviet era.

Similarly, other nations identify America with the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the toleration for and bloody elimination of slavery, the liberation of Europe, and the fight against communism (all of which our enemies label racist imperialism). They identify America with a philosophy of private property and capitalistic entrepreneurship (all of which our enemies label greedy exploitation). They do not identify America with Barack Obama — hence their shock at America’s election of this “international man.”

The Obama Doctrine is Obama’s suggestion to the world that he is more representative of the New America than American history itself. The Obama Doctrine states that Obama’s election has completely redefined America. America’s philosophical roots have been hewn away, replaced with the more humble conciliation of Obamaism.

The international community couldn’t be happier. If Obama is right, they have decades of American surrender in store. And if Obama is wrong — if America comes to its senses and decides to stand up once again for its traditional philosophies — the international community will, at the very least, make hay while the sun shines.

The Obama Doctrine is a mea culpa for America from a self-obsessed president who puts himself before country. And it’s a godsend for America’s enemies.

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