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A French Take On The “Obama Doctrine”

Barack Obama's discourse on military intervention in Libya has been seen as a blueprint for his new approach to U.S. decisions on war and peace. Le Figaro dissects the so-called “Obama doctrine,” and what it means for United States -- and the res

A French Take On The “Obama Doctrine”
Pierre Rousselin

Is there really an "Obama doctrine"? Every time the United States goes to war, its president addresses the nation to explain the reasons behind the military intervention, its goals, and its limits... and of course drum-up popular support for the war. In the case of Libya, the first act of foreign intervention initiated by the president, Barack Obama waited for ten days before subjecting himself to this ritual duty. In the meantime, he went off to the other end of the world, to Brazil, as if to show his detachment from the situation.

On Monday evening, the American president made a speech that was immediately hailed as an outline of an "Obama doctrine". This is a rather ambitious description for an address that was only trying to justify American military engagement in a country where the U.S. national interests are not really at stake.

In his speech, Barack Obama argued that the United States had a moral obligation to rescue the civil population threatened by Colonel Gaddafi. Does this mean that the United States will react in the same way in similar circumstances? The answer is no, so there is no "Obama doctrine" on this point. Since the uprising started in Libya, the White House has been asking Gaddafi "to go". But it took it a long time to rally behind the French-led movement in favor of military intervention.

So is Barack Obama for or against a regime change? In the president's words, "There is no question that Libya, and the world, would be better off with Gaddafi out of power. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." Translation: "Yes we need a regime change but I am not prepared to take on the responsibility." Does the fact that Obama is willing to go against the Pentagon to initiate a third round of military intervention in a Muslim country, when America elected him to put an end to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, make him an interventionist? His response: "We should not be afraid to act, but the burden of action should not be America's alone."

So the "Obama doctrine" may be expressed as follows: the leadership of an economically and diplomatically weakened America no longer consists of the taking the lead on military intervention around the world; but rather in ensuring that other countries carry the burden of multilateral actions supported by the United States.

This part of the "Obama doctrine" marks an important break from the American strategy since the Second World War. It opens the door to a growing role on the part of middle-powers such as France and Great Britain in circumstances where their interests are at stake. This does not mean that the United States will stop trying to control these interventions, especially through international organizations such as NATO.

Read the original article in French.

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Ideas

Iran: A Direct Link Between Killing Protesters And The Routine Of State Executions

Iran has long had a simple and prolific response to political opposition and the worst criminal offenses, namely death by shooting or hanging. Whether opening fire on the streets or leading the world in carrying out the death penalty, the regime insists that morality is on its side.

Protesters linked to the Iranian group Mojahedin-e Khalq demonstrate in Whitehall, London in 2018

Ahmad Ra'fat

-Editorial-

In early September, before Iran's latest bout of anti-government protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, there was another, quieter demonstration: Relatives of several prisoners sentenced to death staged a sit-in outside the judiciary headquarters in Tehran, urging the authorities to waive the sentences. The crowd, which doggedly refused to disperse, included the convicts' young children.

Executions have been a part and parcel of the Islamic Republic of Iran since its inception in 1979. The new authorities began shooting cadres of the fallen monarchy with unseemly zeal, usually after a summary trial. On Feb. 14, 1979, barely three days after the regime was installed, the first four of the Shah's generals were shot inside a secondary school in Tehran.

To this day, the regime continues to opt for death by firing squad for its political opponents; the execution method-of-choice for more socio-economic blights like drug trafficking has been death by hanging.

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