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Lexington : Togetherness in Libya

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Barack Obama’s awfully big change in America’s use of force

IT IS Pavlovian. As soon as a president does something new in foreign policy, the world wants to know whether he has invented a new “doctrine”. The short answer in the case of Libya is that Barack Obama has not invented a new doctrine so much as repudiated an old one. What he is also doing, however, is challenging an American habit of mind.

The doctrine Mr Obama has repudiated is the one attributed to Colin Powell, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and George W. Bush’s transparently miserable secretary of state when America invaded Iraq in 2003. That held, among other things, that America ought to go to war only when its vital interests are threatened, when the exit strategy is clear, and when it can apply overwhelming force to ensure that its aims are achieved. Nothing could be more different from the account Mr Obama gave Americans on March 28th of his reasons for using military force in Libya. He does not believe that America’s vital interests are at stake (though some “important” ones are); the exit strategy is not entirely clear (Colonel Qaddafi must go, but who knows when, and not as a direct result of American military action); and the force America is willing to apply (no boots on the ground) is strictly limited. ...

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作者: 未署名
发布者: yibei
 
创建时间: 2011-03-31
更新时间: 2011-04-01
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书集: The Economist: Full print edition
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