President Obama’s overriding goal was to rebalance and ultimately disengage the United States from the Middle East. He took a step back from old allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia in order to carve out some diplomatic flexibility, even going so far as to attempt a normalization with Iran. Above all, he was hesitant to brandish US military might and risk the kind of long-term entanglements that came to define the Bush presidency.
It’s still early days in the Trump administration, but from what we’ve seen so far – you might say that Trump Doctrine is Obama Doctrine in reverse.
So far, the major thrust of Trump Doctrine seems to be a renewed focus on conventional US allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, and a backpedaling on the modest progress made in US-Iran relations during the Obama administration. This may seem like a relatively minor pivot, but given the wider dynamics at play in the Middle East, it could well come to define US policy in the region for years to come.
As for the second element of Obama Doctrine – a deep aversion to putting the US military to use – on this only time will tell.