If there's an Obama doctrine on foreign entanglements...
I've been thinking about what a single Obama doctrine must look like, one that makes sense of all our entanglements from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt, North Korea, Iran, Burma, and so on.
It's two-pronged. One is with soft power, and the other is hard power.
When it comes to soft power, the Obama administration sees engagement as preferable to isolation, as evidenced by his Cairo speech early on and the constant overtures towards Burma as well as the other ones to Egypt, and Iran.
But this is hardly revelatory; Obama's hardly the first to embrace it.
Where Obama I think really lays an interesting path is on his pluralistic embrace of hard power -- although I'd say this isn't really revelatory either since it largely follows in the steps of George Bush the first.
Conflicts or struggles against foreign nations do not have to be lead de facto by the United States, but instead should be lead and shaped by the nations closest to the conflict politically. In those cases, should the administration find their case compelling on some mishmash of humanitarian or profit-oriented grounds, American will provide logistics, support, and power where it needs be and is specified by those at the front of the conflict.
See: Libya, Iran, Syria, Yemen, and most recently the American support in the French intervention in Mali
In entanglements where there's no real opportunity for engagement, or any particular mood internationally, the administration either doesn't engage (the country's continued snubbing of North Korea and Cuba) or pulls out (Iraq and Afghanistan).
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule -- if we get a pure profit out of the deal, we're of course going unilateral, as we've continued to do in Bahrain and Kyrgyzstan, and to a lesser extent in Pakistan or Yemen.
But what this has done, is it has expanded American reach globally, cemented America as the arbiter of foreign engagement, and allowed for our influence to expand militarily without sparing much in the way of American lives.
I came across this thought today reading about the French intervention in Mali to expunge the country of the Islamic extremists who'd taken a huge portion of the country. It was an invasion of extremists that tormented the Malians, and threatened a ton of the natural resources there that France depends on. So France uses our ample military logistical power on the continent with their troops and Malian support to largely fight the radicals off. The whole thing played like a repeat of Libya: a successful intervention that was celebrated by the local population rather than reviled, and cost absolutely zero American lives.