The Sinatra Doctrine

Frank Sinatra 1959 "Come Dance With Me" Capitol Records © 1978 Sid Avery

Sadly, this one doesn’t include some rare live performance I found on YouTube. Instead, we have Gideon Rachman explaining spheres on influence and “the Sinatra doctrine.” Read:


As Moscow sees it [Beijing, too], America’s global military reach is so pervasive that Washington has got used to treating the whole world as its “sphere of influence”. There are US troops in Japan and South Korea, US naval and air force bases in Bahrain and Qatar, and Nato bases all over Europe – to name just a few of America’s most high-profile global commitments.

The American response is to point out that the US global military presence is built around alliances between willing partners. Indeed, in an effort to underline the idea that America now genuinely repudiates the idea of spheres of influence, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, even declared last year that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is dead”. Henceforth, it seems, America will endorse what a Soviet spokesman once called “the Sinatra doctrine” – the idea that all nations can do it their way.

It will not be hard for the governments in Moscow and Beijing to point to continuing inconsistencies in America’s rejection of spheres of influence. But the US argument still rests on a basic truth. There is a vast difference between a sphere of influence based on willing consent and one that is constructed around intimidation and force.


The other guys never had a chance, really. “They hate us for our freedom” isn’t just an empty phrase we uttered to comfort ourselves after 9/11; it’s a simple truth, as true in Moscow and Beijing as it is in the caves of Afghanistan or in the meeting rooms of Tehran. But our freedom is also why America is a magnet — for immigrants and for willing allies.

But liberty is a precious gift, easy to squander. The more we become like a regular country, the less like a magnet we’ll become, too. That’s good news for the bad guys and bad news for everyone else.

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