The Magazine

The Doctrine that Failed

There’s a reason we get no respect in the Middle East.

Sep 24, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 02 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

In the space of three days, then, the administration had gone from seeking to distance the president from the embassy’s statement to embracing the heart of that message. And then it went further. The White House asked YouTube to review its policies to determine whether the offensive video might qualify for removal from the website. It didn’t.
In retrospect, the administration’s effort to hide behind the film should not be surprising.

Barack Obama campaigned as a leader who would bring respect to the United States from the Muslim world by the very fact of his presidency. He said his background—his experience growing up in Indonesia and traveling in Pakistan during college—gave him special insight into the way Muslims see the world.

Candidate Obama contrasted his foreign policy posture with that of the Bush administration by promising to bring a more conciliatory approach to America’s challenges in the region and to resolve our problems with “smart diplomacy.” As president he would renew American leadership in the world with a more humble approach—“leading from behind,” one of his advisers would famously call it.

These were the ideas that animated the Obama Doctrine. Just a few days before, the president had pointed to his approach as a reason for voters to keep him in office. “In a world of new threats and new challenges,” he said, “you can choose leadership that has been tested and proven.”

Tested and proven—to fail.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers