Watching Obama's press conference at the Summit of the Americas discussing economics, narco-terrorism, and guns, the President showcased a new direction in American regional partnerships. The line that captured the essence of Obama's new approach: "other countries see that we are not dug in to policies created before I was born."
Though the president declined to define the Obama Doctrine, 4 themes emerged:
1. We the USA are a super power but not a singular power. There are not junior partners and senior partners on the world stage - other countries have good ideas too. We should listen to them.
2. The USA leads best by example. We have our democracy, freedom of religion and the press, a civil society where we pursue our dreams without interference from government. We show strength when we practice what we preach, confessing that sometimes we stray from our values.
3. We must put aside old debates. As Obama said, it is easier for our friends like Mexico and Columbia to work with us because their neighbors see us as a force for good... when "other countries see that we are not dug in to policies created before I was born." For example, the Cuban policy we had in place has not worked. The Cuban government could release political prisoners and reduce charges on remittances to family members as signals that they are pursuing change.
4. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And a handshake is just a handshake. And a gift book is just a gift book. Let's look at progress on economics, narcoterrorism, and guns to determine whether we are moving in the right direction.
This emerging Obama Doctrine is the change we voted for and the change he is beginning to deliver.