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Obama’s Foreign Policy Doctrine: “Don’t Do Stupid Sh*t”

Written By : William Teach
June 2, 2014

This is not The Onion or other parody site


(Politico) Forget The New Yorker’s “leading from behind,” and even President Barack Obama’s own “singles … doubles.” The West Wing has a preferred, authorized distillation of the president’s foreign-policy doctrine: “Don’t do stupid sh—.”

The phrase has appeared in The New York Times three times in the past four days. So, if the White House’s aim was to get the phrase in circulation, mission accomplished!

The phrase – as “Don’t do stupid stuff,” with a demure disclaimer that the actual wording was saltier and spicier than “stuff” — appeared in the Los Angeles Times at the end of Obama’s Asia trip this spring, was reprised in the lead story of Thursday’s New York Times.

The phrase itself is coming not from the leftist media outlets, but from Obama aids and Obama himself

Christi Parsons, Kathleen Hennessey and Paul Richter in the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune of April 29: “The president’s aides have scrambled to put things in simpler terms. ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is the polite-company version of a phrase they use to describe the president’s foreign policy.”

Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey in the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune on May 25: “Privately, White House officials have described the working label for Obama’s doctrine as ‘Don’t do stupid stuff.’ Within the tight circle of foreign policy aides in the White House, the shorthand captured Obama’s resistance to a rigid catch-all doctrine, as well as his aversion to what he once called the ‘dumb war’ in Iraq.”

Mark Landler, in the lead story of Thursday’s New York Times: “In private conversations, the president has used a saltier variation of the phrase, ‘don’t do stupid stuff’ — brushing aside as reckless those who say the United States should consider enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria or supplying arms to Ukrainian troops.”

Let’s see

  • James Madison had The Monroe Doctrine, telling European Nations to keep out of the Americas
  • Theodore Roosevelt had the Big Stick diplomacy (walk softly and carry a big stick)
  • Harry Truman’s doctrine came down to “support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”
  • John F. Kennedy had an “us vs. them” mentality, calling on everyone to engage in “a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself”
  • The Reagan Doctrine was to knock down the Soviet Union, what he called the Evil Empire
  • George Bush’s doctrine was to “make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”
  • Barack Obama: Smart Power has become “don’t do stupid shit”

Unfortunately, Team Obama keeps doing “stupid shit”, and seems so focused on trying not to do stupid shit that they annoy our allies.

Yes, really.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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