Sarah Palin’s Foreign Policy Knowledge

Unsurprisingly is not deep.

To defend her (partially) for a second.

1)She should have never been picked and put in this situation. She’s in over her head, which [edit: ***see note below] I find normal given [edit] I think she is unqualified for the job. But I can’t blame her, who would turn down an undeserved promotion?

2)Her answer on Georgia/Russia:

When Gibson said if under the NATO treaty, the United States would have to go to war if Russia again invaded Georgia, Palin responded: “Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.

“And we’ve got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable,” she told Gibson.

The bit about Georgia and war with Russia is in fact correct–minus the Russia was unprovoked BS–if Georgia is in NATO then the basis of NATO and the only reason for it to exist is that every country promises to defend every other country in the alliance. Otherwise it’s meaningless. Hence if Georgia was attacked by Russia and in NATO, we would have to go to war with Russia. What that means–contra McCain, Palin, and sadly Obama–is that Georgia should not be in NATO. NEVER EVER. [Edit Update: I see Yglesias came to the same conclusion].

Far more damning is the fact that she doesn’t know what the Bush Doctrine is. And as Matt Yglesias notes what answer she eventually does give isn’t the Bush/McCain Doctrine–so perhaps she should be asked how her views differ from the President’s and Sen. McCain’s. If Palin’s “credible intelligence of an imminent threat” threshold for preventive/anticipatory attack were actually to hold and not merely some rhetorical gesture interpreted in so wide a manner as to be useless–simply a pro forma justification–then she’s actually correct whereas Bush and McCain are wrong. Hilzoy on the same point in greater depth.

Now to critique her. Cuz there are some doozies.

Most important and most damning and the most clear evidence (imo) of an individual who has never thought about what is going on in the world in the last seven years and will simply do and abide by and argue for whatever the neocon brain trust tells her to think (when she doesn’t get confused on the talking points that is)…She thinks Iraq had something to do with al-Qaeda and the attacks of September 11th (h/t TPM). From the WashingtonPost:

Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.”

Now under normal rational circumstances this would disqualify a human being from elected office much less Vice President of the United States. This is straight conspiracy mongering and shows no basic reflective thought on the matter. It’s can’t be underestimated how crackpot this idea is. Ask yourself whether you would vote for a candidate who believes that Zionists and the Freemasons control the world. Because that’s the level of nutjobbery professed in that statement.

This should be on the news every night–it won’t of course but there you go.

But this notion that all Muslim bad guys (by our definition), all Muslims dudes with guns essentially around the world are all part of some giant organization or some super monolithic evil force.  This is straight up wackadoodle.

2)On the answer where she clearly didn’t know the Bush Doctrine and had to be told what it was by Charlie Gibson (WTF?), this also is quite disturbing:

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation.

This is as stupid as when McCain said he was going to “defeat evil” in the forum with Rick Warren. You can no more rid the world of Islamic extremism or extremism of any kind as you can defeat evil or have a War on Terror (oh wait a second…). What you can do is attack, minimize, decimate, & otherwise annihilate specific terrorist cells who attempt to kill American (and Western) civilians. Like al-Qaeda.

Moreover as the Rand Study showed the way you do that is through (horror of horrors) the p–sy John Kerry method of “intelligence”, treating terrorists like criminals. i.e. Splitting off the reconcilables from the unreconcilables, offering political buy ins to the former, attacking the latter. Rather than say getting into a Cosmic War against Evil and Extremism.

Bonus: For the Facebookers out there, by having read this article (and possibly by just being a human being) you now qualify for the “I Have More Foreign Policy Experience Than Sarah Palin” Group.

Update I: Her national security credential is “energy independence.” But I thought the right-wing talking point was (actually correctly) that energy independence is nonsense and that it was an idea with zero merit. Until of course our gal is for it, then it’s golden. Sheesh. I believe James Poulous calls this petarded.

Update II: ***MD thinks I was begging the question by stating that she was unqualified for the job from the outset. I’ve amended the text to explicitly state that it is my view that she is unqualified. The major premise of the piece is that her foreign policy understanding is abysmally weak. And a number of points are raised to support that thesis. The point about her being unqualified is actually a side point so I’m not sure the question beginning charge is that on target given it’s not the thesis, but if I did beg the question, then I have made sufficiently clear that those views are my opinion and then I’m giving reasons as to why I hold that opinion.

I’m still however waiting for Matthew’s response to the prima facie incongruity between him saying that energy independence is an idea that has zero merit and Sarah Palin claiming her primary credential on security matters being her expertise in energy independence. Does her primary credential for national security then have zero merit? If so, then doesn’t that support my thesis her foreign policy knowledge is weak and therefore by extension she is unqualified? If not, how does he square that circle?

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It has gotten to the point where one only read the first line or two of your posts to find your illogic.

    “…given she is unqualified for the job. ”

    That is a logical fallacy called begging the question. You’ve put a contested conclusion as the premise for your thinking.

    My opinion is that she is more qualified for the job than any of the other three senators, since none of them have run or managed anything that can compare to what Palin has.

  2. James Fallows sums it up well:

    “Each of us has areas we care about, and areas we don’t. If we are interested in a topic, we follow its development over the years. And because we have followed its development, we’re able to talk and think about it in a “rounded” way…..What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the “Bush Doctrine” exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years.”

    I honestly can’t understand how anyone could possibly spin this interview in a positive way.

  3. MD,

    I’ve amended the text to make it clearly explicit that my opinion is she is unqualified. I’ve made arguments as to why I think that is the case elsewhere on this blog.

    I’ve even done the same within this post, which you neglect to mention. So just to tease it out and make clear if there is confusion:

    I hold a premise that someone who thinks Iraq had something to do with 9/11 is unqualified to be elected to federal executive office because they lack some basic understanding of how things work. e.g. The difference between a trans-national jihadist network organization and a national police-state dictatorship.

    That premise is based on the hypothesis that lack of understanding ends up leading to extremely bad policy because it’s based on incorrect facts/perception of the problem at hand (i.e. know your enemy). That hypothesis I assert was supported by Bush’s war in Iraq.

    Further, someone who thinks Iraq and 9/11 are related for me shows a basic lack of interest in foreign policy matters generally (see the James Fallows quotation from commenter muaddib1 above) and that basic neglect makes one in my mind unqualified.

    Unqualified for the VP slot that is. It doesn’t make her disqualified for say Gov. of Alaska per se because she wouldn’t have responsibility for national security & foreign policy matters in that role. But since she is running for a position which does involve these matters and shows by her ignorance on the subject (again by the train of thought outlined earlier) a lack of sustained reflective thought on the subject, then by the premises I laid out she is unqualified. Because if for no other reason, Sarah Palin thinks Iraq was involved in the Sept.11th attacks. That alone is sufficient in my book. There are more (see the post), but that would be sufficient.

    Of course then the disagreement is between our different conception of what qualifies/disqualifies a person for the office. My view on the executive experience question is that it is generally a good thing to have (like a bonus) but not necessarily so.

    We’ve had governors who were piss poor executives: George W. Bush comes to mind, Carter for example. Other Govs. who did reasonably well by my standards: Clinton, Reagan.

    So the historical record on your premise is at best mixed. I don’t see any automatic correlation between the two.

    The historical record on being ignorant of basic facts tends not to be so mixed.


  4. muaddib1,

    [nice name btw, I’m a big Dune-r myself].

    Yeah it was bad. But people will manage to spin it positively if they already are sold on her. I don’t know how well they will hold up. We’ll see. The unnerving part for me was the continual reference to “not blinking”–in other words, not giving a moment’s reflective thought to the matter at hand.

    She demonstrated a great grasp of truthiness if nothing else.


  5. It is not just that Palin was a governor. It is the rest of her executive experience that I refer to. Again, which none of the other three contenders have in any way, shape, or form.

    The importance of this is acknowledged, for example, by Obama supporter Gov. Blagojevich, as well as even by Obama, yesterday, when he praised mayors, and admitted that all senators do is “yak” (his word).

    The rest of your words simply fail to impress, are riddled with rationalized assumptions and more question begging, and I see no good reason to waste time on them.

    And as far as energy independence, check your sources. I didn’t say it has “zero merit”; someone else did, and I linked to it because, as GooseDrops makes clear, I thought it interesting and notable. Try reading a little closer, slower, and cautiously. I would ask you to ramp down your rhetoric (such as “neocon brain trust tells her to think”) to mere disagreement with Palin, but that, I know, would be asking too much of you. After all, you have web stats to increase, a reputation to build, and continued illogic to veil.

  6. Thanks as always for the personal attacks. It’s been awhile but you never fail to impress on that front. You are quite good at it, and I mean that sincerely. You really have a talent for it.

    Alright, so let’s play that game. Do you see any discrepancy between finding a view that states energy independence has zero merit to be one (in your own words) “interesting and notable” and Sarah Palin’s words which for the record were that her credential in national security involves her work on energy independence?

    Bonus points to you on how the “rationalized assumptions” works as an effective smokescreen for the fact that you think the most qualified person to be president currently running thinks Iraq had something to do with 9/11. Do you actually believe that?

    The neocon brain trust line of course refers to the well sourced reports that she is being schooled on foreign policy (ad hoc since she is not possessed of extensive knowledge on the subject) by Bush administration neocons, oh and Joe Lieberman too (a wait for it…foreign policy neocon). Hello Governor?

  7. Correctly assessing your steroided verbalism is not a “personal attack”. For all I know about you personally, you’d be a fine chap to share a cup of joe with. But I don’t, nor do I pretend to. Your words provide all the fodder and evidence required, and all the evidence I’m interested in for purposes of disagreement.

    Stossel’s view that energy independence is a misnomer with no merit is, in fact, interesting at least to me, which is why I linked to it. The term itself functions as a shorthand for several possible policy directions, which is how I took Palin’s reference to it, and any politicians reference to it. Still, that Stossel pointed out obvious problems with this term is notable, because I personally hadn’t seen others do that, though there may very well have been.

    Maybe a good question — not for you to ask, because thoughtful deliberation is not what you do — would be to present Palin with Stossel’s view and ask her to comment. I know doing just that would blow your doors off, but adults like to do that, if you care to know.

    But to play the literalist gotcha game as desire, yes wee Chris, there is a discrepancy there. Oops, recess just ended, time for you to go back to social studies class. Don’t forget to see the nurse for that little boo-boo on your face.

    As far as your “bonus points”. Honestly, I don’t read the quote from the Post quite as starkly as you do, or for that matter as the Post writer did. But there is plenty enough ambiguity in her statement — if it is accurately quoted (which I’m not sure given, for example, Charlie Gibson’s ham-handed attempts at gotcha regarding Palin’s statements about God) — to ask her to further clarify.

    People do make mistakes when they speak in public, you know. And normal people give public figures benefits of the doubt. Am I to think Obama actually think the USA has 57 states? No, well why not? He said it, after all, did he not?

    See, wee Chris, adults come to conclusions slowly, not instantaneously as people that play on your playground must.

    And, bonus points if you ever get through your little head that the entire enterprise of using now meaningless and abused term “neocon” is in and of itself demonstration of non-thinking. But certainly gains one esteem with lefty dittoheads seeking to build web stats. I’ll give you that.

  8. Bottom line:

    I think you are just here to troll. So I don’t respond to trolling because it’s a waste of my time. Totally fruitless.

    So I don’t comment on your site anymore. I’m not going to respond to this nonsense. You know my standards on commenting, so if you want feel free to blast away but I won’t respond. Obviously if you get into it with someone else, then I’ll have delete comments (which I don’t like to do but will if I think it’s necessary).

    [To anyone else reading, I wouldn’t engage.]

    Whatever reasoning you need to give yourself for why I’m doing this–I’m weak, you’ve snuffed me out as the fraud you think I am….whatever is, let that be true for you.

    I’m done.

  9. PS

    The Palin quotation about Iraq/9-11 was not in the Gibson ABC interview but was a public statement she made to US troops as the clipped graf from Wapo clearly articulates. Not exactly the same as a tired dude on a long campaign trail making an obvious slip up for which there is plenty of evidence to suggest he knows the number of states in the republic. To put it very mildly.

  10. I’m not here to troll. I’m here to strongly disagree with both the surface and depth of your entire enterprise. Sorry you can’t handle it. I’ve long contended your cognitive space is incredibly narrow (while you verbalist dictionary quite large) and your labeling of my comments as trolling is further proof of that.

    And, thanks bright eyes, I read that Iraq/911 thing from the original source, the Post, and indicated that. Another example of how you don’t read that closely, yet feel the odd inclination to attempt to come off as this incredibly intelligent, Barnett-like commentator.

    All I said, regarding that Palin quote from the Post, is that, essentially, I’ll reserve judgment — because a) that’s just the intelligent, normal-person thing to do, b) Palin has been misquoted many times already in the MSM.

    She could have meant what you rashly concluded. She may have meant something else. And, perhaps, some of the soldiers she addressed were headed to Afghanistan, where the connection between that and 9/11 is hardly tenuous.

    But no, none of this is for you. You just must “disqualify” her; you just must jump to the most politically advantageous conclusion.

    Because you aren’t interested in genuine thinking, is my guess. The alternative is simply too enticing.

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