Obama Defines the 'Obama Doctrine' in Foreign Policy: He 'Avoids Errors'

Obama Defines the 'Obama Doctrine' in Foreign Policy: He 'Avoids Errors'

President Barack Obama summarized his foreign policy doctrine in a press conference in Manilia, Philippines on Tuesday: he “avoids errors.” 

Obama was asked to define his doctrine by Ed Henry of Fox News. The president, after complaining about Fox News’ coverage of his policy, warned somewhat irritably that he could not encapsulate his entire doctrine in a single answer. Nevertheless, he said that his approach could be summarized as one that avoids mistakes: 

“You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run. But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world,” the president said. 

Others described the Obama approach less charitably. 

Mark Landler of the New York Times called the president’s defense of his foreign policy “[b]y turns angry and rueful,” and likened the Obama doctrine to “small ball.”

These descriptions align with earlier labels of Obama’s foreign policy approach. In 2011, as President Obama supported a European-led military effort against Muammar Gadhafi in Libya, an administration official described the White House’s method as “leading from behind.”

Obama said that his administration had made slow progress through initiatives such as his Asia trip–though he has made little progress on the free trade agreement that was meant to be the centerpiece of that trip, partly because of his reluctance to take on opposition in his own party.

Some of his critics on the Middle East and the Ukraine, Obama said, simply wanted to repeat the mistakes of the Iraq War.

His more measured approach, he said, “may not always be sexy…and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows. But it avoids errors.”

Meanwhile, at home, Secretary of State John Kerry faced mounting calls for his resignation after reports emerged that he had told a closed-door meeting last week that Israel could become “an apartheid state” if it did not reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.