U.S. raids in pursuit of two terrorists over the weekend threw a question surrounding President Obama into the spotlight: Does he have a guiding doctrine for foreign policy?
The operations in Somalia and Libya, only one of which went as planned, come after the Obama administration silenced its drumbeat toward a possible military attack on Syria.
Some analysts say the developments make Obama's "doctrine" more clear than ever. Others say what's more clear than ever is that this president doesn't have one -- which may, or may not, be a good thing.
Yes to special ops, no to conventional wars
"The two raids over the weekend show that President Obama remains very comfortable deploying special operations forces in countries the United States is not at war with as a means to combat terrorist groups, just as he is comfortable with the use of CIA drones for the same purpose in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen," says CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen.
"For the White House, part of the appeal of special operations and drones is that they do not, of course, consume anything like the blood and treasure that are expended on conventional military operations such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Sam Brannen, a Democrat who worked under Obama in the Defense Department until earlier this year, concurs.
"I think he's really fighting the long war ... where you're using a variety of low visibility forces and increasingly unmanned aerial vehicle assets around the planet. And fighting an enemy who has incredible geographic span and seems to pop up everywhere there's a new crisis," says Brannen, now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Key parts of Obama's doctrine, says Brannen, include: "Defeat al Qaeda, minimize weapons of mass destruction, don't get us entangled in another Middle East war."
'Lethal' Obama's al Qaeda doctrine: Kill
"Barack Obama has been a lethal president," says Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
"He has escalated the drone attacks against al Qaeda worldwide. He has basically given the CIA and the U.S. security forces a blank check to wage an all-out war, literally, against al Qaeda, using all elements of U.S. power."
"The Obama Doctrine, when it comes to al Qaeda and its extremist allies, is really a kill strategy," Gerges says.
The capture of alleged al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al Libi in Somalia over the weekend was a surprise, Gerges says. "Because the Obama Doctrine is to kill."
How Syria fits in
Both Gerges and Brannen believe President Obama was reluctant to take military action against Syria, even though he pushed reluctant lawmakers and the American public to support his call for strikes.
The president was under pressure from some in "the foreign policy establishment" and from certain U.S. allies including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Gerges argues.
And, he says, Obama boxed himself in by having warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that use of chemical weapons would be a "red line."
After a large-scale chemical attack which the U.S. blamed on al-Assad's regime, "it was all about the credibility of the president," Gerges says.
He and Brannen say they believe Obama was relieved when a Russian offer took hold.
"He was looking for any reason not to have to bomb Syria," Brannen says. "And he got it with the Russian deal."
No doctrine, no consistency
Danielle Pletka, vice president at the American Enterprise Institute, has a far less charitable view.
"In the sense that the word has typically been used to describe a president's vision for managing national security challenges around the world, I don't think Obama has a doctrine," says Pletka, who identifies herself as conservative.
"What I see are missteps and rhetorical policies that the administration either runs toward or away from."