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The Solvency Doctrine

To restore American power, Obama needs a foreign policy that recognizes its limits


Hardline demonstrators burn posters of U.S. President Barack Obama, during a demonstration in support of the people of Gaza, in front of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, January 13, 2009.

When it comes to predicting a President's foreign policy, there are basically two ways to go: you can look at the guy, or you can look at the world. Perspective 1--which is part biography, part psychiatry--is more fun. The problem is that very often a President's past--and even his campaign rhetoric--is not prologue. In 1916, Woodrow Wilson pledged to keep the nation out of war; in 1940, Franklin Roosevelt promised to do the same. Richard Nixon spent his career as a die-hard anticommunist, but in the White House, he opened relations with China and ushered in d├ętente with the U.S.S.R. George...

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