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POLITICS: PennAve

Can you summarize Obama's foreign policy in a tweet?

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White House,The Pentagon,Barack Obama,Afghanistan,National Security,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Foreign Policy

Six years into the presidency, the Obama doctrine remains hard to put into words.

As President Obama once again seeks to spell out his approach to the world, both critics and supporters say it's difficult to characterize his views with the kind of pithy statements that worked for previous presidents.

Unlike George W. Bush's “freedom agenda” or Ronald Reagan's focus on the Cold War with the Soviet Union, Obama's time in office has come without a unifying theme.

At a speech Wednesday at West Point, Obama will articulate a “new stage” in America's relations with the world after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that includes a foreign policy vision aides say is both interventionist and internationalist, but not isolationist or unilateral.

The Washington Examiner asked foreign-policy experts and newsmakers across the political spectrum to try to summarize the Obama doctrine into a short tweet.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative-leaning think tank, was the most comprehensive in his response:

“Let allies bear more of the burden than in the past; careful, incremental approach; light military footprint (drones, Libya)”

The National Security Network, a liberal-leaning foreign policy non-profit, offered a more supportive take:

“#ObamaDoctrine is using diplomatic/economic tools over military might when possible to solve international issues”

Not surprisingly, critics found it easier to summarize the president’s approach in a few words.

Christian Whiton, a senior adviser at the State Department during the Bush administration, needed only half a tweet:

“Speak loudly and carry a small stick.”

And Edward Lucas, a well-known national security writer for the Economist, was even more harsh:

“#Obama 2 allies: we will shed ink 4 u.”

Ari Fleischer, a conservative commentator who served as Bush's press secretary, got at what he thinks the underlying sentiment is:

“Keep U.S. out. We only make things worse.”

Others wondered whether trying to put the president's foreign policy into an all-encompassing statement was a worthwhile exercise. Tony Fratto, who also worked as a spokesman for the Bush White House, put it simply:

“I don't think that's possible. I don't think an Obama Doctrine exists.”

CORRECTION: This story originally misspelled Daveed Gartenstein-Ross' name as David Gartenstein-Ross. The Washington Examiner regrets the error.

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