Monday, April 20, 2009

The Obama Doctrine

Recent activity on the foreign affairs front has led political scientists to begin piecing together the Obama Doctrine. Whether openly admitting America's undeniable responsibility in the escalating worldwide financial crisis, lifting travel restrictions on Cuban Americans wanting to return home, identifying America's unquenchable thirst for illegal drugs as a catalyst for Mexican border violence, or accepting reading material from the supposedly villainous Venezuelan leader, the United States President appears to be validating Qoheleth's observation that there is "a time to tear apart and a time to sew together" (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Of course, history will record whether Obama's mutuality (of respect, responsibility and resources) ultimately produces the desired cooperation and peace. Nevertheless, if Paul serves as any indication, the act of responsibly reaching out to all has a solid and optimistic biblical precedent: "Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously" (2 Corinthians 9:6).

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Bill Baar said...

Paul was crucified upside down in Rome at the hands of an insane Tyrant.

Let's hope the same fate doesn't befall the US. Obama's playing a dangerous game and I fear the end result will be a fearsome retaliation on his part when some tyrant takes advantage of his perceived weakness.

America will dither around until we can only fight the war of last resort and we fight those as wars of annihilation. No preventive war, not nation building... Obama will get us into Kerry's war of last resort and the Gods help the tyrant who doesn't understand that.

Erik Resly said...

You may indeed be right. In all fairness to proto-Christian history, however, we should not forgot Paul's marginal status vis-a-vis the Jerusalem-based Judaizing Christians (who resented his Gentile focus) and the socio-political context more generally (in which the Jesus movement represented but a tiny minority of the religious landscape). Obama, of course, finds himself in a position of great power with significant leverage. Paul's insight, I believe, speaks less to the fragmentary history of his own fate and more to the radical possibility that awaits Obama on the international scene. My hope is that he will continue to build partnerships with friend and foe alike; despite what popular imagination may record, even Paul relied on a handful of support - and while Christianity certainly has a record of ups-and-downs, the lasting ethical and spiritual impact remains undoubtedly profound.

I truly appreciate your poignant warning, though, Bill - let us both pray that God's grace and the moral virtue of human goodness (Emerson et al.) will get us all through hard times.