The Obama Doctrine: Your A-Z Guide to Tonight's Debate

A four-year history of retreat, apology, genuflection and near-total failure, from A to Z:

Afghanistan: Obama delayed, then announced a “surge”--but also a timetable for withdrawal, making it clear to the Taliban we were not set on victory. There are more casualties under Obama than Bush--including “green-on-blue” Afghan attacks. CBS News reporter Lara Logan recently called out the Obama administration’s claims to have succeeded in war against, or diplomacy with, the emboldened Taliban.

Al Qaeda terror*: Obama authorized the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden but leaked operational details. He ended enhanced interrogation, wanted to prosecute intelligence officers, attempted to try terrorists in civilian courts, and tried to move the Guantánamo Bay prison to Illinois. Obama failed to deal with a resurgent Al Qaeda that backed attacks on U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East in September 2012.

Argentina: Obama backs Argentina’s claim that the Falkland Islands are still disputed, much to the chagrin of Great Britain, which fought a war to repel Argentinian invasion. Argentina’s failing state-centered economic model is a warning for America’s future.

Austria: While the Obama campaign and the mainstream media have mocked Mitt Romney for supposed foreign policy "gaffes"--which have all consisted of true statements--Romney's never said anything quite as bad as Obama claiming that Austrians speak "Austrian," which he did in April 2009.

Bahrain: The one example of a pro-American regime that Obama supported in the Arab Spring, with Saudi encouragement. Protests were suppressed. No one talks about it.

Bermuda: Obama transferred four detainees from Guantánamo Bay to Bermuda and offered them asylum there without warning British authorities, straining relations.

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro defeated Obama’s Chicago for the 2016 Olympics. Obama pledged to buy more Brazilian oil--even while discouraging production at home. 

Burma: The Obama administration has encouraged increased openness in Burma (Myanmar)--but has not dissuaded the regime from an interest in nuclear weapons.

Canada: Because Obama refused to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to go forward, Canada is turning to China as a market for its oil. In international forums, Canada is now assuming leadership in defending the free world in the way the U.S. did, pre-Obama.

Cayman Islands: Obama has attacked Mitt Romney for having offshore accounts in the Caymans--though he does also, through investments by the Illinois state pension fund.

Chile: The miraculous rescue of miners trapped underground in 2010 was not a triumph of government, as Obama suggested, but U.S. private industry drilling innovation.

China: Obama has failed to lead the U.S. to compete competitiveness against China, and openly admires the Chinese top-down, infrastructure-heavy economic model. China is now staking claims to the South China Sea, threatening U.S. interests and allies. And much of Obama’s soaring debt is held by China. Obama has blamed that fact for his administration’s reluctance to speak out against ongoing Chinese human rights abuses.

Colombia: Obama dragged his feet on moving forward with a free-trade agreement, bowing to leftist propaganda about the supposed persecution of unions. Weapons that the Obama administration smuggled in Operation Fast & Furious turned up there.

Cuba: Despite Obama’s soaring promises in his 2008 campaign, very little has changed in U.S. relations with Cuba in four years, as the Castro brothers maintain control.

Czech Republic: After promising not to abandon missile defense in April 2009, Obama abandoned missile defense in Sep. 2009, irking the Czechs and other regional allies.

Egypt: Obama invited the Muslim Brotherhood to his Cairo speech in 2009. In the Arab Spring, the administration first said Hosni Mubarak was not a dictator, then pulled the rug out from under him. Now Obama. is funding the Muslim Brotherhood government.

France: Obama was clearly elated at the victory of Socialist François Hollande, who enacted new tax hikes on the rich--who are now leaving a frustrated France behind.

Georgia: Having offered a weak defense of Georgia on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama has continued to allow Russia to dominate its small southern neighbor.

Germany: Despite Obama’s shared enthusiasm with Angela Merkel for saving the Euro, the two feuded publicly over the cost and extent of Obama’s stimulus policies, which are flooding the world with dollars. Germany’s conservative policies led to faster recovery. In a strange visit in 2009, Obama chose to tour the Buchenwald concentration camp--as well as the war-ravaged city of Dresden, giving credence to moral equivalence. 

Greece: The symbol of EU welfare-state profligacy became a warning for the U.S. as Obama continued adding trillions to the national debt with little economic growth.

Haiti: The Obama administration joined the world in earthquake relief efforts--but did not roll back U.S. farm subsidies that have contributed to Haiti’s poverty in recent decades.

Honduras: Obama backed Manuel Zelaya, an anti-Semitic would-be dictator and ally of Hugo Chavez, in his effort to stay in power despite being constitutionally removed from office. The Obama administration took drastic measures to isolate the new government, sending a signal to democrats in the region that they no longer had an ally in the U.S.

India: Despite superficial attempts to improve relations with state dinners and the like, Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world and focus on Pakistan allowed relations to drift.

Iran: Obama promised to meet with Iran’s leaders “without preconditions.” He continued to nurture the illusion of diplomacy even though the Iranian regime was not interested. He failed to come to the assistance of pro-democracy protestors in 2009, resisted new economic sanctions on Iran (and only signed them with waivers for China and Russia), and refused a “red line” on Iranian nuclear enrichment. Four years closer to a bomb.

Iraq: Though Obama says he kept a promise to “end the war in Iraq,” that war was ended on George W. Bush’s timetable, thanks to a surge that Obama opposed. Obama also botched negotiations with the Iraqi government to maintain a U.S. troop presence (as he had promised in 2008) to ensure stability, deter Iran, and act immediately against terror. Iraq today is less safe, less stable, and less friendly than it was four years ago.

Israel: Despite ongoing security cooperation, Obama has damaged relations with Israel more than any other U.S. President. He criticized Israel publicly; humiliated Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on several occasions; set terms for peace negotiations that favored--and exceeded--Palestinian demands; undermined joint efforts to counter the Iranian nuclear threat; and leaked information about Israeli defense plans.

Japan: Obama’s enduring gesture in Japan was to bow to the Japanese emperor. He had reportedly offered to apologize for Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the offer was refused.

North Korea: Obama failed to seize upon the unique opportunity offered by Kim Jong-Il’s death to use diplomacy or force to end the ongoing North Korean nuclear threat.

Lebanon: On Obama’s watch, Hezbollah expanded its influence, becoming part of the Lebanese government for the first time in 2011 and aiding crackdowns in Syria and Iran.

Libya: Obama went to war without authorization from Congress--something not even Bush had done--to carry out the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. But rebels also carried out atrocities, and former Gaddafi soldiers became a regional menace. The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a disaster, compounded by Obama’s attempt to cover up Al Qaeda’s role (and resurgence) by blaming a YouTube video.

Maldives: The island nation in the Indian Ocean is frequently cited as being in grave danger from rising sea levels and climate change. Yet despite great promises, Obama achieved little even after personal intervention in talks in Copenhagen in 2009, failing to deliver on what was a (dubious) campaign promise to stop the rise of the oceans.

Mali: The northern part of the country has become an Al Qaeda haven after soldiers from Gaddafi’s Libya aided a northern rebellion, provoking a coup in the south.

Mexico: Obama failed to secure the border against illegal immigration and smuggling--while “walking” guns to Mexico in Operation Fast and Furious that were used to kill U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, along with hundreds of Mexicans. In a bizarre diplomatic attack on a U.S. state, Obama and his Democrats applauded a speech in Congress by the Mexican president in which he attacked Arizona’s immigration law.

Nicaragua: Obama endured a rambling public anti-American lecture by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega in 2009 by meekly asking to be excused from misdeeds that occurred long before he was born--not by standing up for the U.S. against defamation.

Pakistan: Relations with Pakistan remain rocky, with the Obama administration still providing billions of dollars in aid to a government working partly in cahoots with Al Qaeda and other regional terror organizations. The raid on bin Laden’s compound with Abbottabad was daring--but the U.S. has yet to defend Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find bin Laden and is now rotting in a Pakistani prison.

Palestinian Authority**: The first leader Obama called upon taking office was Mahmoud Abbas. But Obama over-promised and under-delivered on peace, pushing both Israel and the Palestinian Authority further into entrenched bargaining positions.

Panama: Obama finally signed a free trade agreement, together with agreements with Colombia and South Korea, after allowing the deals to languish in Congress for years.

Philippines: The island nation faces new threats as China asserts its aims in the South China Sea while the U.S. fails to respond, despite claims of a “pivot” to the Pacific.

Poland: A contender for the title of nation treated worst by the Obama administration, Poland was abandoned on missile defense on Sep. 17, 2009--the 60th anniversary of the Soviet invasion in World War II. Obama also managed to insult the Polish people by describing “Polish death camps” in awarding a posthumous medal to resistance hero Jan Karski. Obama refused to allow former president Lech Walesa to collect the medal.

Russia: The Obama administration’s attempt to “reset” relations with Russia began with a gaffe (the “reset” button presented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually said “overchange” in Russian) and went downhill from there. Obama capitulated to Russia on missile defense and granted it favorable terms in a renewed START treaty, while Russia armed the Syrian regime and thwarted U.S. attempts to stop Iran’s nuclear aims.

Saudi Arabia: The Obama administration continued in a long bipartisan tradition of protecting the Saudi monarchy, and added an abject performance of submission when he bowed to the Saudi king (a gesture Obama’s aides later struggled, in vain, to deny).

South Korea: Having snubbed one of America’s best allies and trading partners for years, Obama finally signed a free trade agreement with South Korea in 2011.

Spain: Aside from being, like Greece, a warning against the possible effects of Obama’s policies, Spain is noteworthy for being the vacation destination of First Lady Michelle Obama and a generous entourage in 2009--in the middle of a deep recession.

Syria: Obama first tried appeasement, restoring diplomatic relations in 2009. As Syria cracked down on dissidents, the Obama administration still labeled Bashar al-Assad a “reformer.” It delayed involvement until far too late, preferring to let the hapless UN try to intervene, by which time Syria had descended into full-blown civil war, with Al Qaeda fighters rushing to participate in the rebellion and infest yet another failed state.

Taiwan: The faithful U.S. ally is more threatened than ever by Chinese ambitions in the western Pacific--ambitions that Obama, with a shrinking navy, has done little to counter.

Tunisia: The Arab Spring began here--and Obama was late to the cause of democracy in the Arab world, having cut funds to pro-democracy groups at the outset of his administration. He backed the Arab Spring only once pro-American governments were threatened--but failed to act against anti-American regimes such as Syria and Iran.

Turkey: Obama’s purported personal friendship with Turkey’s leader did not prevent it from moving into Iran’s orbit for a time, nor did it stop Turkey from adopting a radical anti-Israel stance that threatened one of the most crucial security alliances in the region.

Ukraine: With the Obama administration retreating from regional allies, the Ukrainian government is moving back, reluctantly, towards Vladimir Putin’s sphere of influence.

United Kingdom: Despite superficial friendliness towards Obama--expressed, most recently, in contempt for his Republican opponent--the British government has contempt for Obama, who has let the “special relationship” slide. Obama’s lack of support on the Falkland Islands, and reluctance to acknowledge British troops in Afghanistan, were more important than his bizarre “gift gaffes” or his attempt to return a bust of Churchill.

United Nations*: The Obama administration made the ill-advised decision to join the decrepit UN Human Rights Council, submitting U.S. human rights practices to the judgment of tyrants and granting undue legitimacy to what is essentially a body devoted to attacking Israel. Obama often failed to stand up for the U.S. and its allies at the UN, and even tried to breathe life into the discredited Durban racism conferences.

Venezuela: Obama greeted Hugo Chavez warmly in 2009, and though Chavez soured on the U.S. president, he supports Obama’s re-election. Chavez won his own recent re-election campaign, and remains as much in control of his failing nation as he ever was.

Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe’s continued domination of his nation is a symbol of the enduring fragility of African democracy, in which Obama has shown little interest.


* Global institution or organization

** Not recognized as a state


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