In an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, President Barack Obama commented on his administration’s current foreign policy actions, specifically with easing regulations on Cuba and the potentially historic negotiations with Iran, and revealing what he believed to be the “Obama doctrine.”
Throughout the interview, Obama continually refers to American interests and exceptionalism, especially when discussing the process of “engagement” with nations such as Cuba and Iran, which the United States has held tensions with for decades.
“We are powerful enough to be able to test these propositions without putting ourselves at risk,” said the President. “And that’s the thing ... people don’t seem to understand.”
He continued: “You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition.”
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Obama also commented on Iran, which the United States has inched even closer to signing a new deal with the notoriously hostile nation over reducing their nuclear energy capabilities in exchange for the removal of sanctions which have crippled the country’s economy.
“The truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us,” said Obama, arguably promoting America’s superiority over other territories.
When questioned about his views over the Obama doctrine, or the term used to describe the current administration’s foreign policy views and actions, Obama simply stated, “The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
The President also defended the negotiations with Iran to Israeli citizens and leaders, who have voiced their skepticism and discomfort with the thought of the United States agreeing to loosen restrictions on Iran, a nation who has vowed to destroy the state of Israel in the past.
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“What I would say to the Israeli people is ... that there is no formula, there is no option, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon that will be more effective than the diplomatic initiative and framework that we put forward – and that’s demonstrable,” Obama said.
Obama was also asked about his belief in Congress’s role throughout the negotiating process, especially after the now infamous letter was signed by 47 U.S. Senators and sent to Iranian leaders, threatening to undo any negotiations once Obama leaves the White House.
“I felt that the letter that was sent to the supreme leader was inappropriate. I think that you will recall there were some deep disagreements with President Bush about the Iraq war, but the notion that you would have had a whole bunch of Democrats sending letters to leaders in the region or to European leaders ... trying to undermine the president’s policies I think is troubling,” he said.
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