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Rice Advances the Obama Doctrine

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This week, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice further developed the core principles of the emerging Obama doctrine, strands of which the president presented over the last several months in Prague, Cairo and Moscow.

The president himself is likely to elaborate his guiding principles further during his speech to the United Nations September 24 and his chairing of a special UN Security Council session on nuclear proliferation September 25.

Rice's analysis begins with an assessment of the global threats and the need for a united response.

We face an extraordinary array of global challenges: poorly guarded nuclear weapons and material, a global financial meltdown, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran and North Korea building their nuclear weapons capabilities, al-Qaeda and its affiliates, genocide and mass atrocities, cyber attacks on our digital infrastructure, international crime and drug trafficking, pandemics, and a climate that is warming by the day.

In a clear break with the failed unilateralism of the past, she says:

If ever there were a time for effective multilateral cooperation in pursuit of U.S. interests and a shared future of greater peace and prosperity, it is now. We stand at a true crossroads. We must move urgently to reinvigorate the basis for common action. The bedrock of that cooperation must be a community of states committed to solving collective problems and capable of meeting the responsibilities of effective sovereignty.

Rice's views complement those advanced by other members of the Obama national security team, particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's vision of new security partnerships and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' efforts to reorient America's armed forces to 21st century conflicts. (Other speeches in this series include Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Counter-terrorism chief John Brennan and National Security Advisor Jim Jones.)

As I have written on this site earlier, I believe the new Obama Doctrine is one guided by universal compliance with democratic norms and the rule of law; policies driven by the convergence of shared interests and responsibilities; and a statecraft that does not shirk from the application of military force when necessary but promotes America's interests with respect for other nations and the strength of joint enterprise.

This isn't naïve liberal internationalism. On the contrary, as Rice explains, respect for multilateral institutions strengthens America's ability to protect and pursue its own interests:

When the United States joins others to confront these challenges, it's not charity. It's not even barter. In today's world, more than ever, America's interests and our values converge. What is good for others is often good for us. When we manifest our commitment to tackling the threats that menace so many other nations; when we invest in protecting the lives of others; and when we recognize that national security is no longer a zero-sum game, then we increase other countries' will to cooperate on the issues most vital to us.

Her views are not new. They are the ones she personally held as a scholar, that she helped develop during the Obama campaign, and that she presented during her Senate confirmation hearing:

I believe we stand now at yet another defining moment - one in which the peoples and nations of the world must find both the will and more effective means to cooperate, if we are to counter the urgent global threats that face us all. Terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, civil conflict, climate change, genocide, extreme poverty, and deadly infectious disease are shared challenges that no single nation can defend against alone. They require common action based on a common purpose and vision of shared security. I welcome the challenge and am humbled by the opportunity to serve our country at the United Nations.

If I am confirmed, I will work to promote and implement President-elect Obama's commitment to "strengthening our common security by investing in our common humanity."

That is exactly what she is doing.