As President Obama spoke today about Libya, he also laid out the differences between his foreign policy and that of George W. Bush. Those differences are why Obama has been a success where Bush was a failure.
Here is the audio of Obama from MSNBC:
As we move forward, we should also recognize the extraordinary work that has already been done. To the American people, these events have particular resonance. Qaddafi’s regime has murdered scores of American citizens in acts of terror in the past. Today we remember the lives of those who were taken in those acts of terror and stand in solidarity with their families. We also pay tribute to Admiral Sam Locklear and all of the men and women in uniform who have saved so many lives over the last several months, including our brave pilots that have executed their mission with skill and extraordinary bravery. And all of this was done without putting a single U.S. troop on the ground.
To our friends and allies, the Libyan intervention demonstrates what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one — although the efforts in Libya are not yet over. NATO has once more proven that it is the most capable alliance in the world and that its strength comes from both its firepower and the power of our democratic ideals. And the Arab members of our coalition have stepped up and shown what can be achieved when we act together as equal partners. Their actions send a powerful message about the unity of our effort and our support for the future of Libya.
Since President Obama has taken office, there has been much written about the differences between the Bush and Obama doctrines. Libya is providing the starkest contrast yet between the two. The Bush mantra of spreading democracy through the barrel of a gun has been replaced by democracies of the world standing together to promote democratic values and encourage the organic popular spread of liberation from tyranny. Bush had all the rhetoric, but it has been Obama who has overseen the spread of democracy through the Arab world.
The Obama Doctrine is based on the idea that you can’t transplant democracy. It must be encouraged and grown organically. Obama’s views go against everything the neo-conservative right stands for, but his willingness to use force has also earned him the wrath of the some on the left.
As Sarah Jones wrote, “In Libya, Obama, refusing to call the intervention a war, provoked the far Left even though he had the support of allies, the UN Security Council and Arab League. Certainly the far Left has reason to be war-weary and intervention-hyper alert after Bush’s disastrous Iraq invasion, but while it’s easy to see current situations in light of the past, it isn’t always accurate. This is akin to judging your current partner based on what your last partner did to you (which most likely wasn’t good or they would be a current partner). As humans, we are all prone to this sort of pre-emptive fear, but in politics as in life, the current situation is not necessarily the same as the last.”
Obama could be accurately characterized as both pro-peace and pro-regime change. The Obama definition of regime change is different from the shudder inducing definition of the Bush years. It is not based on American politics, or feeding private contractors billions of dollars. Obama is an idealist who wants his country to work with other democracies to bring freedom to those oppressed by tyranny.
No, this isn’t weapons of mass destruction or yellow cake. This is about helping to make the world a better place even where America has no vested interests. Obama was willing to take his political lumps at home from his own base in order to do what he thought was right.
There are literally dozens of differences between the Obama and Bush doctrines, but the biggest difference of all is that the Obama Doctrine works.