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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pragmatic cosmopolitanism?

Now that the US has intervened in Libya, many political analysts have speculated about an "Obama Doctrine." Last night on MSNBC's "Hardball," Andrea Mitchell identifed a doctrine in response to host Chris Matthews' question:
MATTHEWS: Is there a doctrine? In the first segment of the show tonight, we had McDonough on trying to find out if there is a doctrine. Is there a vision—what did G.W.‘s father call it, a vision thing? Is there a vision thing here?

MITCHELL: Well, I think there is a vision. It‘s emerging, and I think people have questioned whether there‘s a strategy.

The president tried to outline that in answers to our own Savannah Guthrie last night at the news conference in El Salvador. And basically what he says is, when you have a catastrophe that you can avert and the benefits outweigh the costs, and you have international or multilateral support, go for it...

You cannot stand idly by. That‘s what I would call the Obama doctrine.

MATTHEWS: It has conditions, too. We have to have friends who will join us, and we have to have an enemy who we can go after.

MITCHELL: Exactly.
Video here.

On Twitter earlier today (yes, I've just started tweeting), I labeled this "pragmatic cosmopolitianism."

There have been prior efforts to describe an Obama Doctrine, such as the one offered by Katrina vanden Heuvel, which focused on the President's major speeches of 2009 (arguably leading to the Nobel Prize):
support for diplomacy and the UN; commitment to a nuclear-free world; a belief that democracy is strengthened not through US intervention but when people win for themselves their rights and liberties; and engagement and cooperation with, rather than antagonism toward, the Muslim world.
In March 2008, Spencer Ackerman outlined something similar:
Ackerman describes how Obama and his advisors support a "human dignity" agenda that would -- contra the current policy approach -- seek to "fill stomachs, alleviate malaria, or protect neighborhoods from marauding bands of militiamen."
I think "pragmatic cosmopolitanism" still works to describe all these ideas.

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