In his State of the Union address, President Obama declared that “America is back.” Examining Obama’s foreign policy efforts, however, this statement seems doubtful. To better understand Obama’s foreign policy, Heritage hosted a panel discussion with Kim Holmes, Mark Thiessen, and Clifford May.

As Holmes has previously written, Obama defines America as just another nation with no particular claim to greatness or exceptional responsibilities. As such, his foreign policy downplays the U.S. leadership role, defers to international organizations, and focuses on soft power strategies. Paying particular attention to the Arab Spring, counterterrorism, and the defense budget, the panel discussed how the Obama doctrine has created inconsistent policies and ignored long-term concerns.

In avoiding a leadership role, U.S. actions in the Middle East have become erratic. In Iran, America first tried conciliatory efforts; now, it is taking a harsher tone. In response to the Arab Spring, the U.S. has done nothing in Syria, sent troops into Libya, and made speeches about Egypt. There is no clear humanitarian, economic, or strategic rationale governing American actions. Instead, the Obama doctrine waits on the U.N. before making a stand for freedom and democracy.

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