‘No boots on the ground’ proved effective in Libya. Now, Barack Obama has announced the full military withdrawal from Iraq, which lays to rest the horrible and costly war that a lying George Bush foisted on the American and Iraqi people nine years ago.
The sudden appearance of secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Kabul is another indication of tactical disengagement of what is now emerging as ‘the Obama doctrine’.
Clinton encouraged Afghani president Karsai to continue talks with the Taliban, in spite of the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of his government’s peace council. Clearly, the US is looking to find a short cut from the 10 year war in Afghanistan that in a way recalls the Vietnam quagmire.
The tough talks Clinton is having with Pakistan is a hook to engage a foot dragging ally to fight its own Taliban as well to collaboration with Pashtun Taliban in Afghanistan. The goal is clear: relieve the pressure of US and NATO troops so that they can if not defeat the Afghani Taliban, at least push them to negotiating a peace with Karsai to end the long war in Afghanistan.
In another hot spot, North Korea, the Obama administration is switching horse in midstream by replacing the stern Stephen Bosworth with Glyn Davies, US ambassador to IAEC in Vienna and a nuclear expert. This move points a finger at a possible delinking of US ROK hard line policy towards the DPRK. The White House is moving towards a resumption of the three year stalled six party talks in Beijing. The lack of progress on decommissioning North Korea’s nuclear programme has given Obama more wool than he needs to thread. ROK president Lee Myung bak is a lame duck, and the US bought him off with a FTA; not only that the Lee team is being hit with revelations of corruption, thereby rendering more a burden than an asset. And what’s more, Lee’s successor in the Blue House will be more flexible in reconnecting with Kim Jong il’s government.
Iran remains the fly in the ointment; an opening to Tehran would challenge, in a way, coordinated policy with Israel.
So what then is the Obama doctrine? Militarily speaking, it is a joint venture with other states to defeat an enemy who has taken up arms in hot spots deemed essential to maintain US hegemony. Diplomatically, it is a return to ‘soft power’ to quiet matters that do not require military solutions. In other words, Obama recognises the value of traditional diplomacy as a step before pursuing its with arms to paraphrase Clausewitz.
Anyhow, it is a doctrine in progress: strategically, it allows the US to pursue its ‘global’ interests without resorting to knee jerk responses that inspired George W. Bush.