That Infamous Foreign Affairs Article
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in 2008 | Foreign Policy Knowledge | Mike Huckabee — Comments (40) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
So thus far, when I have critiqued Mike Huckabee's foreign policy views, I have done so by linking to others who have made their critiques and then offering my own commentary on the matter. To be sure, this has been necessary at times when news reports have brought the latest Huckabee gaffe on foreign affairs to public attention.
The most notable big, giant gaffe has been Huckabee's Foreign Affairs article. I have read it, as have a whole host of other people. The near-universal reaction amongst readers has been that they have been underwhelmed, to say the least. I have cited a number of the dismissive comments in the past, but I feel it is necessary to put myself on the record to explain just what it is about the Huckabee foreign policy platform that alarms me and causes me to believe that he is simply not ready for prime time.
And so I shall. Click "Read More" to, well, read more . . .
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.
Right away, the essay starts out badly. Comparing the United States to a successful high school student who might have a tendency to lord it over the dullards is simplistic, to say the least. There is, of course, no mention of specific examples in which the United States has sought "to dominate others." Politics ain't beanbag and international relations is even less beanbagesque than is the practice of domestic politics. As a superpower, the United States holds tremendous sway in diplomatic, military and financial circles and as a nation-state acting in conjunction with the expectations and predictions of realist theory, the United States will indeed seek to push for its preferred policies overseas--whether that occurs in bilateral or multilateral settings. As power is a zero sum game, it stands to reason that when the United States prevails in pushing for one particular position and another country--or a group of countries--fails in the advocacy of a competing position, there may be some hard feelings. But from the outset, Huckabee fails to give voice to the fact that America's allies feel an attachment to the United States and a need to keep up a friendship with the U.S. because of mutual interests in a whole host of areas. Moreover, Huckabee fails to take note of the fact that in Germany and France, anti-American governments have given way to significantly pro-American ones and that in Britain, Gordon Brown--whatever his other faults--has sought to keep the special relationship between Britain and the United States intact, going so far as to authorize his Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to smack down the insufferable Mark Malloch-Brown when the latter pompously declared earlier this year that Britain and America were no longer "joined at the hip."
Incidentally, is Huckabee unaware of the degree to which America is "generous in helping others"? Apparently so. His first paragraph implicitly suggests a false dichotomy; America has "attempt[ed] to dominate others" instead of being "generous in helping others." Er . . . no. Huckabee would have reassured at least a few people if he gave a nod to American efforts to lend support to international aid programs. Instead, he made it clear that he is unaware of the scope of American aid overseas.
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.
This paragraph is demagoguery in action, pure and simple. Talk about the Administration's "arrogant bunker mentality" is taken straight out of Democratic talking points and has about as much accuracy as do laser blasts from the guns of Imperial stormtroopers in the Star Wars saga. It is not an argument. It is, rather, a shibboleth, as is the discussion of pitting us against the terrorists instead of against the world. Would that the great Jeane Kirkpatrick were alive to comment on Huckabee's poorly aimed rhetoric, it might cause her to be reminded of a certain speech she gave about a group of people who may well have given Huckabee the inspiration he drew on in choosing his words. I realize that Presidential candidates need to write catchy lines to attract the attention of the public, but catchy lines need to have a semblance of truth about them. It is nice to see that Huckabee opposes the Law of the Sea Treaty. So do I. The difference between me and Huckabee is that I spelled out my opposition and the reasons for it. In his essay, Huckabee never does.
A more successful U.S. foreign policy needs to better explain Islamic jihadism to the American people. Given how Americans have thrived on diversity -- religious, ethnic, racial -- it takes an enormous leap of imagination to understand what Islamic terrorists are about, that they really do want to kill every last one of us and destroy civilization as we know it. If they are willing to kill their own children by letting them detonate suicide bombs, then they will also be willing to kill our children for their misguided cause. 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. Very few Americans are familiar with the writings of Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian radical executed in 1966, or the Muslim Brotherhood, whose call to active jihad influenced Osama bin Laden and the rise of al Qaeda. Qutb raged against the decadence and sin he saw around him and sought to restore the "pure" Islam of the seventh century through a theocratic caliphate without national borders. He saw nothing decadent or sinful in murdering in order to achieve that end. America's culture of life stands in stark contrast to the jihadists' culture of death.
I am pretty well prepared to predict that in the event that Mike Huckabee wins the Presidency (stop laughing), the White House Press Office in a Huckabee Administration will not devote oodles and oodles of time to discussing the writings of Sayyed Qutb. And indeed, if there is a problem in America with the understanding of the ideology behind radical Islamism, that problem lies with those who refuse to believe--despite the mounting evidence--that radical Islamism and its ideology are a clear and present danger to American interests and the interests of America's allies around the world. The fault for this lack of understanding does not lie with the Administration, which sought to move Heaven and Earth as early as September 20, 2001 to awaken the public to the danger:
Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking: Who attacked our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are the same murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.
Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world -- and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.
The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics -- a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children.
This group and its leader -- a person named Osama bin Laden -- are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.
The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan, we see al Qaeda's vision for the world.
Afghanistan's people have been brutalized -- many are starving and many have fled. Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.
This message has been repeated so many times in so many different fora that immediately upon its repetition, the Administration is attacked by its critics and the media (but I repeat myself) for "fearmongering." And yet, Mike Huckabee seems to think that the Administration has not said word one about radical Islamism. Has he been living in a cave for the past six years?
The United States' biggest challenge in the Arab and Muslim worlds is the lack of a viable moderate alternative to radicalism. On the one hand, there are radical Islamists willing to fight dictators with terrorist tactics that moderates are too humane to use. On the other, there are repressive regimes that stay in power by force and through the suppression of basic human rights -- many of which we support by buying oil, such as the Saudi government, or with foreign aid, such as the Egyptian government, our second-largest recipient of aid.
Although we cannot export democracy as if it were Coca-Cola or KFC, we can nurture moderate forces in places where al Qaeda is seeking to replace modern evil with medieval evil. Such moderation may not look or function like our system -- it may be a benevolent oligarchy or more tribal than individualistic -- but both for us and for the peoples of those countries, it will be better than the dictatorships they have now or the theocracy they would have under radical Islamists. The potential for such moderation to emerge is visible in the way that Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq have turned against al Qaeda to work with us; they could not stand the thought of living under such fundamentalism and brutality. The people of Afghanistan turned against the Taliban for the same reason. To know these extremists is not to love them.
As president, my goal in the Arab and Muslim worlds will be to calibrate a course between maintaining stability and promoting democracy. It is self-defeating to attempt too much too soon: doing so could mean holding elections that the extremists would win. But it is also self-defeating to do nothing. 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. The United States' strategic interests as the world's most powerful country coincide with its moral obligations as the richest. If we do not do the right thing to improve life in the Muslim world, the terrorists will step in and do the wrong thing.
All of this is lovely rhetoric. But how on Earth is Huckabee going to actually "calibrate a course between maintaining stability and promoting democracy"? What specific measures will he take. I suppose that the only way to find out what is behind Policy Door Number Three is to elect Mike Huckabee President (stop laughing), since he doesn't bother to spell out his policy proposals in any detail whatsoever in his essay. While the excitement associated with this devil-may-care attitude towards selecting the next Commander-in-Chief may be significantly more thrilling than your average night out on the big city, the actions of a responsible and sober polity it ain't.
For too long, we have been constrained because our dependence on imported oil has forced us to support repressive regimes and conduct our foreign policy with one hand tied behind our back. I will free that hand from its oil-soaked rope and reach out to moderates in the Arab and Muslim worlds with both. I want to treat Saudi Arabia the way we treat Sweden, and that will require the United States to be energy independent. The first thing I will do as president is send Congress my comprehensive plan for achieving energy independence within ten years of my inauguration. We will explore, we will conserve, and we will pursue all types of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, ethanol, hydrogen, clean coal, biomass, and biodiesel.
Promises of energy independence are preternaturally ridiculous. Huckabee has said that he wants America to rely on Saudi oil just as much as it relies on Saudi sand. The problem, of course, is that this grandiose promise makes no economic sense whatsoever, a fact that is readily recognized by those who have no incentive whatsoever to bamboozle the public when it comes to energy policy and associated national security concerns.
Supporting Islamic moderates and moving toward energy independence will not protect us from the terrorists who already exist. These enemies, who plot and train in small, scattered cells, can be tracked down and eliminated by the CIA, U.S. Special Forces, and the military forces of the coalition countries united to rid the world of this scourge. We can achieve a tremendous amount with swift and surgical air strikes and commando raids by our elite units. But these operations demand first-rate intelligence. When the Cold War ended, we cut back our human intelligence, just as we cut back our armed forces, and these reductions have come back to haunt us. I will strengthen both.
Great. How? And will Huckabee return to the past practice of the American intelligence community--most notably, that of the OSS--to recruit from the professional classes, including businessmen, bankers and lawyers who have distinct and well-defined skill sets to bring to the task of intelligence collection and analysis? Again, Huckabee doesn't spell anything out.
The "peace dividend" from the fall of the Soviet Union has become a war deficit with the rise of Islamic terrorism. We did not send enough troops to Iraq initially. We still do not have enough troops in Afghanistan and are losing hard-won gains there as foreign fighters pour in and the number of Iraq-style suicide attacks increases. Our current active armed forces simply are not large enough. We have relied far too heavily on the National Guard and the Reserves and worn them out.
The Bush administration plans to increase the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps by about 92,000 troops over the next five years. We can and must do this in two to three years. I recognize the challenges of increasing our enlistments without lowering standards and of expanding training facilities and personnel, and that is one of the reasons why we must increase our military budget. Right now, we spend about 3.9 percent of our GDP on defense, compared with about six percent in 1986, under President Ronald Reagan. We need to return to that six percent level. And we must stop using active-duty forces for nation building and return to our policy of using other government agencies to build schools, hospitals, roads, sewage treatment plants, water filtration systems, electrical facilities, and legal and banking systems. We must marshal the goodwill, ingenuity, and power of our governmental and nongovernmental organizations in coordinating and implementing these essential nonmilitary functions.
Again, all of this sounds wonderful. But where will Huckabee get the money to raise defense spending to 6% of GDP? In dollar terms, this represents an increase from nearly $500 billion in defense spending to $750 billion. My hawkish credentials take a backseat to no one's but where on Earth will we get the money to spend nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars on defense? I don't know. Neither do you. And for that matter, neither does Huckabee. If he does, he's keeping it a secret--he likes keeping policy secrets, it would appear.
If I ever have to undertake a large invasion, I will follow the Powell Doctrine and use overwhelming force. The notion of an occupation with a "light footprint," which was our model for Iraq, is a contradiction in terms. Liberating a country and occupying it are two different missions. Our invasion of Iraq went well militarily, but the occupation has destroyed the country politically, economically, and socially. In the former Yugoslavia, we sent 20 peacekeeping soldiers for every thousand civilians. In Iraq, an equivalent ratio would have meant sending a force of 450,000 U.S. troops. 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. Our generals must be independent advisers, always free to speak without fear of retribution or dismissal.
Oh, good grief. The Shinseki myth. I'm fine with the sentiment that more troops should have been sent for peacekeeping but Huckabee didn't have to rewrite history in order to make that claim.
As president, I will not withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq any faster than General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander there, recommends. I will bring our troops home based on the conditions on the ground, not the calendar on the wall. It is still too soon to reduce the U.S. counterterrorism mission and pass the torch of security to the Iraqis. If we do not preserve and expand population security, by maintaining the significant number of forces required, we risk losing all our hard-won gains. These are significant but tenuous.
Seeing Iraqi Sunnis in Anbar, Diyala, and parts of Baghdad reject al Qaeda and join our forces, often at tremendous risk to themselves, has been a truly extraordinary shift. Those who once embraced al Qaeda members as liberators now see them for what these radicals are: brutal oppressors who want to take Iraq back to the seventh century. And this development is serving as a model for turning Shiite tribes against their militants. Despite what the gloomy Democrats in the United States profess, reconciliation is happening in Iraq, only it is bottom up rather than top down, and since it comes directly from the people, it can end the violence faster. Benchmarks are being reached in fact, if not in law. As Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told Congress last September, oil revenues are being distributed, de-Baathification is being reversed, and the Shiite-dominated government is giving financial resources to the provinces, including Sunni areas.
Laudable rhetoric. Much better, in fact, than this:
"Congressman [referring to Ron Paul in a debate], whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion for historians, but we're there. We bought it because we broke it," [Huckabee] said.
And here I was, thinking that Iraq had been broken thanks to the rule of Saddam Hussein. Silly me. And yes, I am aware that the Pottery Barn Rule was cited by none other than former Secretary of State Colin Powell as well. It made no sense then, either.
Skipping a fair amount of anodyne commentary, we come to this:
Sun-tzu's ancient wisdom is relevant today: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Yet we have not had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost 30 years; the U.S. government usually communicates with the Iranian government through the Swiss embassy in Tehran. 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. The reestablishment of diplomatic ties will not occur automatically or without the Iranians' making concessions that serve to create a less hostile relationship.
Sun-tzu didn't say this. Michael Corleone did. On more substantive matters, it is sheer folly to compare relations between the United States and Iran to relations between estranged friends, or parents estranged from their children. This simply does not pass the smell test as we search for serious commentary concerning the future of Iranian-American relations. If Huckabee wants to conduct serious talks with Iran, that is a respectable position. But he needs a negotiating strategy. Here's mine. Where is Huckabee's?
Our experience in Iraq offers a valuable lesson for how to proceed in Iran. Since we overthrew Saddam, we have learned that we invaded an imaginary country, because we relied at the time on information that was out of date and on longtime exiles who exaggerated the good condition of Iraq's infrastructure, the strength of its middle class, and the secular nature of its society. We would have received better information if we had had our own ambassador in Baghdad. Before we put boots on the ground elsewhere, we had better have wingtips there first.
Whoever wrote this tripe ought to be fired. If Huckabee wrote it, he ought never to be hired for any political position in which he might have a hand in serious policymaking. Iraq is not and never was "an imaginary country." We didn't have relations with Iraq because they got broken off in 1990. They got broken off in 1990 because Iraq invaded Kuwait and after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Saddam threatened to execute American diplomats who refused to turn over non-diplomats who would have been hostages of Saddam's regime had they not been given refuge by the American embassy. After the Gulf War was successfully concluded and Saddam's forces were utterly and completely routed, Saddam regularly violated the cease-fire resolution that ended the war by firing on American planes patrolling the no-fly zones. I don't underestimate the importance of American diplomacy, but how precisely would it have improved the situation to "have [had] wingtips" in Iraq?
Many Iranians are well disposed toward us. On 9/11, there was dancing in the streets in parts of the Muslim world but candlelit vigils and mourning in Tehran. When we invaded Afghanistan, Iran helped us, especially in our dealings with the Northern Alliance. Hoping for better bilateral relations, Tehran wanted to join us against al Qaeda. The CIA and the State Department supported this partnership, but some in the White House and the Pentagon did not. After President Bush included Iran in the "axis of evil," everything went downhill fast.
A completely absurd statement, one that utterly and entirely ignores the history of Iranian-American relations since November 4, 1979. I agree that the Iranian populace is well-disposed to the United States and I am well-situated to state as much. But it is wrong, wrong, wrong to argue that the "axis of evil" statement was the catalyst for things to go "downhill fast" between Iran and the United States. If the viewpoint of the regime had matched that of the populace, there would have been no impetus whatsoever to give that speech.
When we let bin Laden escape at Tora Bora, a region along the Afghan-Pakistani border, in December 2001, we played Brer Fox to his Brer Rabbit. We threw him into the perfect briar patch, under the direct protection of tribal leaders who do not consider their land part of Pakistan and under the indirect protection of the Pakistani government, which believes that it is. On September 12, 2001, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf agreed to sever his relationship with the Taliban and let us fight al Qaeda inside Pakistan. But distracted by Iraq, we have since allowed him to go back on his word.
I am sure that the Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit talk is cute and all, but it fails to make a lick of sense. In addition, whatever the extent of Musharraf's backsliding on the issue of hunting down al Qaeda, that backsliding has not occurred because we were "distracted by Iraq"--a silly and uninformed statement that got picked straight out of the Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid School of Rhetorical Art. Blame should be placed on the Musharraf government for its agreement to the Waziristan Accords, as Bill Roggio points out. But the formulation and implementation of the Accords are not in the slightest associated with any "distraction" that is caused by the American presence in Iraq. It is one thing to blame the Musharraf government for not taking the appropriate measures against al Qaeda; the truth of that statement is so obvious as to be almost axiomatic. It is quite another altogether to argue that the Musharraf government would have been singing a different tune if only Americans were not in Iraq. And if the American presence in Iraq is indeed a "distraction," then pray tell, why does Huckabee not promise to withdraw instantly, instead of arguing that "Withdrawing from Iraq before the country is stable and secure would have serious strategic consequences for us and horrific humanitarian consequences for the Iraqis," and stating that any withdrawal timetable will coincide with the recommendations of General Petraeus? If the General promises to prolong the distraction--and he has repeatedly said that the current counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq is a long term project--why wouldn't a President Huckabee (stop laughing) overrule him and bring troops home faster than Dennis Kucinich could say "Saigon rooftop"?
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.
Um . . . what? Is there any evidence whatsoever that Secretary Rumsfeld committed an act of insubordination? If so, out with it. If not, what was the point of this passage? Incidentally, was Secretary Rumsfeld--assuming that what Huckabee writes is true--not correct in worrying that perhaps, just perhaps, invading Pakistan over Musharraf's objections might not be the savviest of moves when we consider long term interests and the future of Pakistani-American relations? If in the future, Musharraf does not give his consent to the parachuting of Navy Seals in his country, would a President Huckabee (stop laughing) actually invade Pakistan in direct contravention of Musharraf's stated objections? How would he know that Musharraf won't greet such an invasion by having the Pakistani military treat the presence of American military personnel as a threat, with corresponding actions to follow?
Rather than wait for the next strike, I prefer to cut to the chase by going after al Qaeda's safe havens in Pakistan. As commander in chief, the U.S. president must balance threats and risks in calculating how best to protect the American people. We are living on borrowed time. The threat of an attack on us is far graver than the risk that a quick and limited strike against al Qaeda would bring extremists to power in Pakistan.
No one wants to suffer another attack and Huckabee is right to view Pakistan as an area of deep concern to American policymakers and interests. Again, however, does he propose to engage in a unilateral assault on Pakistan? If so, don't we get back to that whole "if [America] attempts to dominate others, it is despised" rhetoric that Huckabee threw about at the beginning of his article, apparently not knowing that he would ignore his own warnings on the last page of that same article?
To be sure, Pakistan is an inherently unstable country that has never had a constitutional change of government in its 60 years of existence. It has alternated between military and civilian rule, punctuated by assassinations and coups. Even during times of nominal civilian rule, the army and its affiliated intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, were the country's most powerful institutions. But in the name of stability, the U.S. government has erred on the side of protecting Musharraf. We have an unfortunate tendency to confuse leaders with their countries and their citizens and to back them for too long, with too few questions asked and too few strings attached. As the Bush administration scrambled to cope with Musharraf's state of emergency last November, it became clear that we had no Pakistan policy, only a Musharraf policy.
So, who does Huckabee suggest as an alternative to Musharraf? We don't know--yet another policy surprise that will likely be sprung upon us once a President Huckabee (stop laughing) is safely inaugurated. Bhutto is dead. The Pakistan People's Party is currently bereft of a leader and hobbled by decades of dependence on the cult of personality that has traditionally dominated it and has emanated from the Bhutto family. Nawaz Sharif is best known for having conducted nuclear tests and having initiated the Kargil War against India, bringing international tensions to the brink in that fragile part of the world, not to mention efforts to promote shari'a in Pakistan. Is he the savior Huckabee would have to replace Musharraf?
Huckabee might have won some points by arguing for increased American assistance to organizations seeking to democratize Pakistan by stating that with democratization comes transparency (thus allowing other countries to better understand Pakistani intentions and thus calibrate their own actions more accurately in response) and intra-governmental redundancy (thus promulgating institutions that will serve as checks to the power wielded by someone like Musharraf and backup institutions in the event of a coup or other such governmental crisis in Pakistan, especially given the potentially fragile lack of command and control over nuclear weapons in such situations). Alas, none of this commentary is to be found in Huckabee's entirely shallow article.
This is a bad article. Truly awful. It is written in a slapdash manner and is ignorant of large scale trends and historical forces that have helped shape global events and the American reaction to those events over the past three decades. When confronted with his manifest lack experience and knowledge in foreign affairs, Mike Huckabee preferred to respond with a joke:
. . . People will say that people will say, "well, you are a governor, you don't have much foreign policy experience." Neither did Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan came as a governor, he had been an actor. But ten years after he was sworn into office, there wasn't a cold war, the Berlin wall was down, and there wasn't a Soviet Union. People considered that one of the most important times in American history in terms of our relationship with the world. Certainly governors have more experience than people realize because we do trade missions and we are involved in cultural exchanges, we deal with multinational corporations in bringing jobs, travel extensively. But more importantly, the role of foreign policy is one of character and understanding what your principles are and then surrounding yourself with good advice. And the ultimate thing is, I may not be the expert that some people are on foreign policy, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
The comparison with Reagan is laughable. Reagan spent years educating himself on foreign policy and the Cold War and entered the White House with a clearly defined set of beliefs and principles. His understanding and command of the details of the world situation were evident and apparent as early as May 15, 1967.
It is exceedingly doubtful that Mike Huckabee would have fared as well in a debate with Robert F. Kennedy. And all of the Holiday Inn Express stays in the world would not have helped matters.