Foreign policy expert Dueck (Policy, Government, and International Affairs/George Mason Univ.; Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II, 2010, etc.) explains how presidential doctrines are built and provides a primer on the methodology of establishing foreign policy.
President Barack Obama shapes his doctrine in close connection with his core advisers, with the final decisions always resting with the Oval Office. It is a centralized policy, purposely ambiguous and always with an ear to the ground on domestic issues. The president has said that this was the time for nation building at home, and his global nonintervention policy has allowed him to focus on that plan. While lauding him as one of the country’s great progressive presidents, the author feels that his disengagement, especially on nuclear issues and terrorists, is viewed as weakness throughout the world. Dueck acknowledges the president’s drive to achieve his domestic agenda but says little about how it affects the “Obama Doctrine.” In fact, in the chapter on domestic issues, the author focuses mostly on foreign policy. The book is as much about what is wrong with the administration as what goals they have achieved. It may be a useful study for Republican candidates in the 2016 campaigns, as he outlines how grand strategy should be directed and where we need to go to save America’s place as a top world power. In the final chapter, Dueck introduces as an alternative “Conservative American Realism,” which “would emphasize supporting American allies and resisting American adversaries internationally” as well as “strategic planning, bolstered deterrence, and presidential leadership on behalf of a genuinely prudent U.S. forward presence.”
Though Dueck can be wordy and repetitive, his ideas are clear, his arguments sound and his policy proposals professional. A good book for those who think the current policy just isn't doing its job.