New Delhi, March 14 – Barack Obama‘s foreign policy, like the main character in Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, reflects a moral duality that has befuddled friends and enemies alike and will complicate the evolving world order.
As Dr Barack, deeply influenced by the 20th century Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, he envisioned a world without nuclear weapons; promised to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp; and opposed “dumb” intervention wars to overthrow dictators that lacked international support.
Yet as President Obama, he promoted a $1 trillion proposal-the costliest post-Cold War plan-to upgrade nuclear weapons capability over three decades; failed to shut down the morally reprehensible Cuban camp and authorized a 10-fold increase in drone strikes; and, on the advice of the “responsibility to protect” brigade in his cabinet, undertook the calamitous intervention in Libya to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, which (along with the earlier disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003) in turn led to the rise of the Islamic State (IS).
However, unlike the tragic protagonist in Stevenson’s book, Obama has justified and managed these contradictions, apart from Libya, which he admits was a “mistake” and is a “mess”. In fact, Libya, more than any other foreign policy entanglement, not only reinforced Obama’s original beliefs but is one he is now using to redefine the US foreign policy priorities. In a comprehensive article in The Atlantic magazine by Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama outlined three principles of his doctrine.
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