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Capsule Review

The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today

In This Review

The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today
The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today
By Colin Dueck
Oxford University Press, 2015 336 pp. Purchase

Dueck’s book, which should be required reading for 2016 presidential candidates and their staffs, offers a critique of U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, an overview of the state of the foreign policy debate among Republican voters, and some foreign policy prescriptions that Dueck believes would help the eventual GOP candidate unite the Republicans and reach out to independents and some Democrats. Dueck argues that Obama has sought to be a transformational president—but in domestic rather than foreign policy. Obama’s overriding goal has been to prevent foreign policy entanglements from splitting his electoral coalition and diverting economic resources away from the nation building that he believes the United States needs to do at home. As for the GOP, Dueck sees a party divided into three factions: libertarian neo-isolationists, conservative internationalists, and conservative nationalists. The three groups command roughly equal support in the party, Dueck maintains, but conservative nationalists may prove decisive in the 2016 primaries. Dueck advises the next administration to embrace “conservative American realism,” an approach that focuses more on conserving the foundations of U.S. primacy than on transforming the world in the United States’ image.

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