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Over the Horizon: In Libya, Mastering the Art of 'Muddling Through'

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

President Barack Obama's address explaining the reasons for the U.S. intervention in Libya has already generated a flurry of responses. Some have lauded the speech as setting forth a set of grand strategic principles that will guide the U.S. response to the "Arab Spring." Others have decried it as lacking sufficient grand strategic vision. In reality, grand strategic principles rarely dictate specific courses of action in complicated situations, and a coherent grand strategy absolves no one from the responsibility of "muddling through."

Even if there is an "Obama doctrine," it is unclear how that doctrine matters for Libya, or how the doctrine's principles will affect the administration's approach toward Syria, Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. The particular complications of each case make the application of a single grand strategy difficult, if not impossible. ...

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