Mitt Romney is back in the news with more than a little schadenfreude, talking about how he would be better not only to deal with sequestration but also with Iran. Or so he claims. But had he become president, it would have been interesting to see the Romney Doctrine in action—a foreign policy lodestar distinctly different from the Obama Doctrine.
Normally foreign policy experts talk in terms of grand strategies—sets of guiding principles for an administration’s foreign policy—but occasionally in the world of ideas a particular set of strategic principles gets defined as a doctrine. Here, for example, is something I published a couple of elections ago on the Palin Doctrine.
But in reality there is no clear process by which this occurs, nor any specific criteria that a certain set of principles must meet to get deemed a “doctrine.” A general rule of thumb holds that a leader’s strategic outlook must be a sizable departure from his or her predecessors’ and internally consistent. Once someone in the media uses a term like “the Bush Doctrine,” thereafter a tipping point may be reached in the public sphere when, voila, the world has a new doctrine on its hands.