This book seeks to uncover a clear picture of Barack Obama’s grand strategy, the overarching methods applied to identify and achieve national interests in a global setting. Pressed for an “Obama doctrine” during his final years in office, the President claimed a simple international relations approach: applying all tools at his disposal before resorting for military force. Critics, however, remain unimpressed. They charge the administration with strategic incoherence and weak leadership. Stepping away from ideological and theoretical commitments, Shively applies a simple framework for grand strategy, one that also deepens our systematic understanding. After untangling a complex history and narrating three cases of tumult in 2009, 2011, and 2014, Shively characterizes Obama’s grand strategy as “pragmatic internationalism” and argues that it was a promising but poorly implemented approach.
Jacob Shively is Assistant Professor of Government at the University of West Florida, USA. His current research examines grand strategy and US foreign policy, as well as security issues related to new technologies such as lethal drones and cyber security.