Obama's Foreign Policy: 'Don't Do Stupid Sh*t'

Uncouth doctrine intended to avoid wars

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 2, 2014 9:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – Obama has formulated his foreign policy doctrine down to one pithy, and for most newspapers unprintable, phrase: "Don't do stupid shit." White House aides have been dropping that bon mot in conversations with journalists over the past month or so, Politico observes, detailing a half-dozen news articles in which it's appeared—though usually in the more sanitized form, "Don't do stupid stuff."

In the past four days alone, it's thrice appeared in the New York Times. Here's the relevant quote, for example, from an article in yesterday's Times:

  • "In his second term, a time that presidents typically set about cementing their legacies as statesmen, Mr. Obama has instead settled on a minimalist foreign policy—one that he laid out at West Point and sums up with a saltier version of the phrase, 'don’t do stupid stuff.'"
As an earlier LA Times piece explained, Obama wants to avoid both a catch-all foreign policy prescription, as well as military quagmires like Iraq, which he once called a "dumb war." That philosophy was the guiding light, apparently, behind last week's major foreign policy speech.

President Barack Obama speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 30, 2014.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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