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The Obama doctrine: Charm enemies, arm-twist friends

For a friendly foreign leader, a visit to the White House can be a visit to the woodshed.

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Leaders of three pivotal and US-friendly nations – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel – were summoned for visits to the Obama White House this week, with marching orders made clear.

And this comes soon after the new president made warm overtures to Iran, Syria, China, Cuba, and Venezuela.

See a pattern yet?

It could be this: The Obama doctrine in foreign policy is to squeeze friends into changing their ways and to disarm American adversaries with charm.

It is a long way from the Bush theme of squeezing enemies and largely ignoring friends. But then, President Bush basically wanted one certain result – no follow-up attack on the US by Al Qaeda. Over seven years, he was successful, although at a cost in lives, civil liberties, and America's reputation.


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