December 15, 2007

Playground Diplomacy?

Mike Huckabee is taking shots from conservatives today after his explanation of his foreign policy, especially from Mitt Romney, who calls it "playground diplomacy". The substance of his foreign policy seems less at issue than in the way he introduces it. He castigates the Bush administration for conducting its policy with a high-school arrogance:

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.

American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States' main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists. At the same time, my administration will never surrender any of our sovereignty, which is why I was the first presidential candidate to oppose ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, which would endanger both our national security and our economic interests.

After this poor introduction, Huckabee makes some sense and argues points that many conservatives have made over the last few years. The Bush administration has not done a good job of explaining the fight against Islamist radicals, nor of communicating progress in it. Bush has also taken criticism from the Right for being too deferential to Islam, and Huckabee goes into detail in criticizing America's Muslim trading partners for not assisting in the fight against the radicals.

However, the essence of his overview seems to emphasize his departure from George Bush while maintaining most of his policies. He talks about engaging Iran with more diplomatic options, but then says he supports Bush's sanctions against Iran as a path to denuclearization. Huckabee doesn't credit Bush with the efforts made over the last four years to allow for any number of diplomatic options, including WTO membership and normalized relations through the EU-3 negotiations. It reads more like a Barack Obama speech than a policy statement from a Republican, at least in that sense.

That is also true in Pakistan. He says that he will attack al-Qaeda positions in Pakistan, and uses the Brer Rabbit analogy on Osama bin Laden. Like Barack Obama, whom he criticized for making this statement on my Heading Right Radio show in August, he telegraphs his intentions to strike over the objections of the Pakistani government, which at the moment is at least nominally allied with us.

There is much to commend Huckabee in this essay, but more that will cause Republicans to question his tone and his direction.


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» Huckabee: “American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude” from Wise Golden Retriever
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