The Spectacle Blog

Huckabee’s ‘Clueless’ Foreign Policy

By on 12.15.07 | 3:40PM

By using the word "clueless," I refer not only to Michael D. Huckabee's understanding of international relations as outlined in his Foreign Affairs essay, but the 1995 Alicia Silverstone teen movie, which seems a surprisingly relevant comparison, given Huckabee's opening paragraph:

The United States, as the world's only superpower, is less vulnerable to military defeat. But it is more vulnerable to the animosity of other countries. Much like a top high school student, if it is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved. But if it attempts to dominate others, it is despised.

More than anything, Huckabee's essay is startling in its incoherence, and it has something within it to scare off any faction of the conservative movement. To those who remain supportive of President Bush and believe he has helped keep us safe since Sept. 11, Huckabee writes that "the Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad." He goes on to echo liberal talking points in criticizing Bush for his handling of Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Al Qaeda. For those conservatives who believe that Iran does not deserve to be awarded with diplomatic ties to the U.S. given its "a world without America" and "wipe Israel off the map" rhetoric-not to mention funding of terrorist activities directed at Americans in Iraq-Huckabee thinks we should talk with the Islamist government, because "When one stops talking to a parent or a friend, differences cannot be resolved and relationships cannot move forward. The same is true for countries." I'm sure there are some non-interventionist conservatives who may agree with Huckabee's criticisms of the Bush administration for being overly macho, and needlessly confrontational with Iran. Yet what they have to look forward to in a Huckabee administration would be continued U.S. presence in Iraq, possible air strikes on Pakistan, a larger military, and a foreign aid program that would make Lyndon Johnson's Great Society look like a trivial domestic initiative. "We must first destroy existing terrorist groups and then attack the underlying conditions that breed them: the lack of basic sanitation, health care, education, jobs, a free press, fair courts -- which all translates into a lack of opportunity and hope," Huckabee writes. "The United States' strategic interests as the world's most powerful country coincide with its moral obligations as the richest."

While Huckabee accuses President Bush of being arrogant, he doesn't seem to have any problem playing teacher to ignorant Americans:

The Bush administration has never adequately explained the theology and ideology behind Islamic terrorism or convinced us of its ruthless fanaticism. The first rule of war is "know your enemy," and most Americans do not know theirs. To grasp the magnitude of the threat, we first have to understand what makes Islamic terrorists tick.

And in case you're wondering, Huckabee understands the enemy, because he's heard of Sayyid Qutb.

Then there's the recurring "if only I had been president I would have made all the right decisions" theme.

On Iraq:

Unlike President George W. Bush, who marginalized General Eric Shinseki, the former army chief of staff, when he recommended sending several hundred thousand troops to Iraq, I would have met with Shinseki privately and carefully weighed his advice.

On Al Qaeda:
Despite the Bush administration's continued claims that the U.S. military will pursue "actionable targets," according to a July 2007 article in The New York Times based on interviews with a dozen current and former military and defense officials, a classified raid targeting bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Pakistan was aborted in early 2005. Then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called off the attack at the very last minute, as Navy Seals in parachutes were preparing in C-130s in Afghanistan, because he felt he needed Musharraf's permission to proceed. Why did Rumsfeld, instead of President Bush, call off the attack? Did he ask for Musharraf's permission or assume he would not get it? When I am president, I will make the final call on such actions.

Huckabee concludes his article by saying:
Our history, from the snows of Valley Forge to the flames of 9/11, has been one of perseverance. I understand the threats we face today. When I am president, America will look this evil in the eye, confront it, defeat it, and emerge stronger than ever. It is easy to be a peace lover; the challenging part is being a peacemaker.

As I wrote earlier this week, can we really afford to trust somebody with zero foreign policy experience who has a record of helping to release the most violent of criminals back into society, to stare down our enemies?

I totally understand that many social conservatives are rallying behind Huckabee, because they feel he is the only candidate who represents them. And I also understand that some Huckabee supporters feel as though us Northeastern conservatives are being condescending in our criticisms of Huckabee and his followers. But for those social conservatives who also view national security as important, I strongly advise taking a look at his Foreign Affairs article and examining his record as governor, and asking whether you seriously believe he is up to the task of being commander in chief during a time of war.

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