President Obama’s speech last night had a few media pundits talking about an “Obama Doctrine.” Below is an excerpt from The U.S. Role in a Changing World that helps students think about the role of presidential doctrines in U.S. history and what an Obama Doctrine might actually be.

Have students read the excerpt below and then watch the president’s speech.

  • Do students think the president established a doctrine? Or is this something less sweeping?

Presidential Doctrines (Excerpted from The U.S. Role in a Changing World)

Throughout history, U.S. presidents have had their names attached to the foreign policy doctrines they established. (A doctrine is a fundamental principle of a policy.) Below are a few examples of famous presidential doctrines.

The Monroe Doctrine: President James Monroe’s (1817-1825) stated that efforts by European nations to colonize or interfere in the Americas (North and South) would be considered as acts of aggression that demanded a U.S. response.

The Truman Doctrine: President Harry Truman (1945-1953) asserted that the United States would support democracy around the world and help states and peoples resist the spread of Soviet Communism.

The Carter Doctrine: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) warned that the United States would use force to protect the oil of the Persian Gulf region from the Soviet Union.

The Bush Doctrine: President George W. Bush (2001-2009) said that the United States would use military force preventively against perceived threats to the United States even if a threat was not immediate.

The Obama Doctrine?: President Barack Obama (2009- ) does not have a doctrine named after him—yet. Are there any clues about what an Obama Doctrine might be?