Gorbachev: the model for the Obama doctrine
In the first of a series of articles marking his first 100 days, Rupert Cornwell assesses his foreign policy
The Independent - 21 April 2009
Some already talk of an ‘Obama Doctrine’. Others, sensing that everything may end in tears, compare him to Mikhail Gorbachev, who set out to change the image of Communism and ended up by destroying Communism itself. One thing however is incontestable. Barack Obama has set a new imprint on his country’s foreign policy – and far more quickly than the last Soviet leader ever did.
Mr Gorbachev had been in power for 18 months before the “new thinking” and “perestroika” got under way in earnest in 1986. By contrast, Mr Obama still has a week left of his first 100 days in office, by which a new American president is judged, and his approach is visible everywhere.
The changes have been breathtaking in their speed and scope. He has signalled readiness to talk to those two longstanding foes of the US, Iran and Cuba. He has announced a “reset” of relations with Russia, launching a new round of nuclear arms negotiations and even offering to quietly drop plans to install missile defence units in central Europe, a plan Moscow detests, in return for Russian help in getting Iran to halt its uranium enrichment programme.