Foreign Policy Watch

Geopolitical musings through a progressive lens …by Matt Eckel and Jeb Koogler

Poor Thought Process Mr. Huntsman

I’m still not entirely sure what path John Huntsman sees to the Republican nomination. After spending two years as the Obama-appointed ambassador to China, he’ll have to be pretty radioactive to most of the Republican base. That said, politics is strange, so why not? The Times has a short piece this morning profiling his initial run through New Hampshire. Huntsman does indeed project as an “adult,” which is nice, and he’s clearly aware that the deficit is going to be the issue to flog this election cycle. Still, this seems fairly bassackwards:

He rarely mentioned Mr. Obama’s name — and issued a call for civility — but he offered criticism of the president’s decision to intervene in Libya, saying that future military engagements should be carefully weighed based on their financial cost.

“It’s an affordability issue,” Mr. Huntsman said. “With all of our deployments and all of our engagements abroad, we need to ask a fundamental question: Can we afford to do this? That should be driven by the second point, which is whether or not it’s in our national security interest.”

No. Wrong. The first question you ask is whether a war is in our national security interest. Cost falls somewhere in that calculation, but myopic focus on cost is a terrible way to make foreign policy. Also, for what it’s worth, the Libya war hasn’t appeared to be much of a financial drain, especially since we’re sensibly allowing other NATO members to do some real heavy lifting. There’s plenty to criticize about Libya, but cost is pretty far down the list.

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  1. Yeah it would be nice to see a moderate Republican run for president, but to suggest that Obama's foreign policy is any different than GWB's second term (or any Repub platform) is really foolish. And as you point out, so is asking whether any particular action is in our national interests as a SECOND question.